I'm all for it! Not the making iPhones and cheap trinkets kind, I'm talking about the not-playing-video games-all-day or thinking-mom's-a-live-in-maid kind. The kind where kids, even little kids, do actual work. My parents made my brother and me work (me totally more than my brother, I swear) and Sam (who's three) has chores that he's supposed to do every morning (doesn't always happen, I assure you). I even have little chores for Vivi. Do you make your kids work? What sorts of jobs do you give them? Here are my favorite kid-friendly jobs.
Sam's morning chores:
- pick up his room (if it wasn't straightened the night before, which he's supposed to do before bed)
- shake the Ficus tree and pick up any yellow leaves that fall and throw them away
- straighten the shoes on the shoe tray
- wipe down the lower kitchen cupboards with a damp rag
- dust the main floor furniture with his little lambswool duster
Other random jobs:
- helping set and clear the table
- picking up
- putting away his laundry
- putting books on the shelves neatly with the spines facing out
- putting dirty laundry down the laundry chute
- carrying in (light) groceries
- sweeping up his craft messes with the broom (or at least holding the dustpan while I sweep)
- wiping the baseboards
Now before you think I'm a slave driver, realize that these things generally don't all happen in one day! In fact, I really struggle with getting him to just do his basic chores consistently. That's the hardest part about teaching kids to work, that it's WAY more work than just doing it yourself! And he has picked up on this little fact and often uses it to his advantage!
A few things that I've found that help make it less work for me are implementing the use of a timer, working alongside him, even if it's on a different task, singing, and consistency (isn't that pretty much the key to every parenting challenge?). I set a timer for a reasonable amount of time and tell him that if the chores aren't done in time I'll add an extra chore and start the timer over again. This tends to work most of the time. But the best motivation is when we're all working and singing together. Then there's no need to hassle him into hurrying up. It's just fun and the work gets done quickly. I also notice that if I get lazy and don't enforce doing chores (which totally happens because it's sometimes just so much easier not to!) that the next day it's even harder.
Do you have little tricks for motivating your kids? I'd love to hear them! I'm also curious about what chores other kids do (and their ages). Am I mean mom? Should my kids be doing more? It's fun to know what other families are doing. I think about kids back in the day and think how good it must have been for them to work so hard and have so much responsibility at such a young age. It's funny how we sort of have to invent work for our kids because of the lack of a natural need for their labor in our post-industrial age. I was complaining to Clay that Sam just needs a herd of cows to be responsible for and to have to get up and milk at 5am and muck out their stalls. Then he wouldn't be underfoot, whining about being bored. He'd be outside herding cows!!
PS These pictures are all from For Small Hands. They're not a sponsor, but I love their stuff, especially for making cleaning easier for kids. It helps to have the right size tools:)