Many of us will soon be headed back to school. Some of us may still be virtual learning or doing half and half. Whatever we are doing this month, prioritizing a schedule for our kids is so important. Many have not been in a school building since March, so keeping home a place of consistency and “knowing what to expect” will be an imperative piece for easing this transition.
Last month, we talked about setting up a wake and bedtime routine as the bookends for the schedule. This month we are going to focus on why adding chores to the schedule is important and how to do that. Chores are the way in which everyone contributes to the success of the family. Unless we have hired help, everyone should pitch in on keeping the house in order. The phrase, “many hands makes light work” applies here. Chores are a way we can teach our children not only responsibility, but a positive work ethic and necessary life-skills.
First, something to remember; chores are not a punishment. Children should do chores regardless of their behavior. In fact, they should be able to have fun while doing their chores, provided they are able to complete them in a timely fashion and to your satisfaction. On that note, chores should also be able to be completed in a relatively short amount of time.
Chores should also consist of necessary tasks that relate directly to the child and are age appropriate. For example, their own laundry, cleaning their room, cleaning the bathroom they use (or splitting this among siblings) and helping clean the common areas of the house. Remember, try to keep the chores evenly distributed among siblings if their age allows, or rotate the chores among siblings. I know some families rotate washing dishes and drying and putting away, either weekly or daily. I knew one mom of 11, who kept a chore chart up on the wall and would just weekly rotate the laminated kids names. It was a very effective tool for them.
Make sure that you decide in advance what your expectations of each chore are. In other words, how will your kids know when the chore is done correctly? Remember to keep these expectations age appropriate. For example, you can only expect 5 year old quality work from a 5 year old. I cleaned the bathroom with my boys the first couple of times to show them not only how to do it, but to show them what I expected it to look like when the job was done. Be prepared to explain things more than once. Putting instructions in writing also helps with bigger kids.
Since we are utilizing the schedule, set specific times when the chore should be started and finished. Resist the temptation to continually remind the child how much time is left. For example, my sons know when they get up, the very first thing they do is get dressed and make their bed. They then know they are to head to the kitchen to unload the dish washer. The first few mornings, well weeks, I had them come check the schedule to help them remember what came next. It is now routine, and they do it automatically.
Remember, practice makes perfect. We as parents don’t always get things right the first time so we need to have that expectation for our kids. We need to be patient, especially when learning something new, and cheer like crazy when they get it. Utilizing this simple parenting tool, the schedule, can be a game changer for helping everything run smoothly.
Visit parentingonpurpose.org for more advice from Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts.