The Neverending Story isn’t just a popular fantasy movie from the 1980s, it is also every parent’s experience when it comes to staying on to top of housework. No matter how hard you work, that pile of laundry, the dishes in the sink and the rubbish on the floor never seems to go away completely. Which is why it is vital to involve the children in the management of the family home – and that includes the chores.
Every parent knows what it is like to be met with resistance when the call goes out to put down the iPads and PlayStation controllers and pick up a vacuum cleaner. But getting the kids involved doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth.
With a few simple strategies you can get the young ones actively involved in the house and with minimal complaints.
Why It is Important to Get the Kids Involved in Cleaning?
Keeping the house clean and tidy isn’t the only benefit Aussie families will enjoy by getting the kids to help out. It will also teach them a range of life skills and behaviours that benefit them enormously as they grow.
Children will learn skills like cleaning, preparing and cooking meals, how to care for a lawn and garden and other skills that will enable them to be independent when the time comes to find their own homes. On top of that, children learn the values of teamwork, communication, co-operation and negotiation and they will feel pride, competence and responsibility when the job is done.
It has also been shown that families that work together on household chores work better as a team and there is less stress in the family environment, which is beneficial for everyone.
Make Your Children Feel Important
How often have you heard your children moan about being treated like slave labour in the home? It is melodramatic, sure, but it also shows there is a certain approach required to get the kids actively engaged in housework.
However, science has shown that giving your child an official title in the process, like being ‘Mummy’s Little Helper’ reinforces the fact that the child is good and doing a good job. They are going to enjoy this feeling and want to identify with it more, making them much more open to the idea of helping fold towels or giving dad a hand to wash the car.
Treating chores and responsibilities as a source of pride is much more effective than simply demanding the child’s help. It’s also a great way to get the young ones started on learning life skills they’ll definitely need as adults.
Create a Team Environment
Chore charts, bribery, rewards and even punishment can get the kids off the couch to a certain degree, but often with complaints and a slack attitude toward the task at hand. Instead, try creating a team environment where everyone pulls together to get the job done.
When a child has been taken away from their creature comforts and told to clean a messy area, the task looks enormous and they would rather be doing what they were doing. However if the whole family tackles the task, it is done quickly, effectively and everyone can have more time in the day.
For example, the kitchen. Get the kids on the dishes, mum can take the rubbish out, dad can sweep and mop the floors. Or any combination you like. But with everyone working together, many hands make light work.
Pick Your Battles
While mess around the house can be frustrating, kids will be kids and sometimes we need to cut them some slack.
After all, are you in the right mindset to launch into a complete spring clean after a 10 hour shift at work when the boss has yelled at you and somebody ate your lunch out of the fridge? Of course not – and kids are the same; they have their own stresses, worries and their self discipline skills are still developing.
Picking your battles also comes down to picking your moment. For example, choosing times when your child(ren) are happy, relaxed and engaged is going to reap more rewards than straight after a tough school day or when they have just finished their weekend sport. You can even identify these times during the week and allocate them as scheduled chore time.
Teach Them To Show Initiative
If children do not identify when somebody needs assistance at an early age, they are not going to do it when they are teenagers. While this can often be dismissed as teenagers being lazy, it is actually a cultural issue that stems from early childhood development.
Did you know attentive helping is a method Hispanic and Indigenous cultures have used for hundreds of years that teaches children to recognise when a task needs doing without being asked?
Getting kids to do chores without being asked is the Holy Grail, but it is possible with So in those early years, get your children to watch you complete chores, explain to them what you are doing and why it needs to be done. Make it an educational task, so use a calm voice rather than an impatient or scolding one.
Start with simple tasks like asking your toddler to bring their sippy cup to the fridge to be refilled. Young kids love to play fetch almost as much as the family puppy, so use that to your advantage.
Get them involved in shopping and dinner preparation. Here, stir this, hold this, carry this. Reward and encourage them at every opportunity.
By the time they reach teenage years it will be ingrained into them and they will complete these tasks without being ordered to.
Overall, getting the kids involved in chores should not be frustrating for anyone. Constantly nagging, yelling and reminding will only get you so far, along with bribery, chore charts and other common methods. The trick is to involve your children early and make house management part of the family culture. Everyone has a role to play and together great things can be achieved. There will be far less stress and you never know, that pile of laundry may disappear completely one day.