It probably makes sense that if you live in a house of, say, 5 people and you are the only one who cleans while the other 4 members seem to be the ones who make messes, your house will always be messy, no matter how much housework you do! Everyone in the family needs to pitch in to do chores. How do you get this started?
1. Make it a family rule that NOBODY sits around and plays while other family members are cleaning. Cleaning time is now FAMILY time! Doing dishes together, folding laundry together — these are great opportunities to talk with your kids and spend some valuable face-time together while getting an otherwise boring task done.
2. Start when the kids are very young, even if the amount of work your toddler can do is more symbolic rather than productive. Have your toddler hand you the white clothes to put into the laundry. Have her pick out her clothes from the clean laundry pile and put them into a pile. Find ways she can contribute and watch her beam with pride at how she’s “helping mommy.”
3. Teach your child the chore thoroughly before expecting him to be able to do it on his own. Here is how you teach a child how to do a chore:
You tell him how to do the chore.
You show him how to do the chore.
You do the chore together.
He does the chore by himself while you supervise
He does the chore by himself with you checking in only occasionally.
4. Set a timer to go off in the morning to remind you to do morning chores. Set another timer to go off in the evening to do evening chores. Each morning and evening chore time should take about 10-20 minutes for kids.
5. Praise your children for their hard work! Don’t pay them for doing housework (doing chores is part of what it means to be a family. The payoff is that they get to live in a nice house where they can find their toys and have clean clothes to wear.) Let them overhear you “bragging” to their grandparents about what good helpers you have!
Start teaching your children to help you around the house and reap the benefits of a cleaner house, children who know how to contribute, and more time to spend together as a family.