For most families, getting your kids to help out around the house is a major battle. But before you throw in the duster, here’s some tried and tested tips to encourage your kids to get involved, and maybe even enjoy, a spot of housework.
Build housework into the family day
Most children do like structure, so asking them to do chores at times when they were expecting to be able to relax is a recipe for disaster. Instead, try to build chores into logical parts of the day. For example, asking them to wash up in the evening after dinner, load clothes into the washing machine in the morning or tidy their rooms on a Saturday morning. Once routines are in place, they will be much harder to break.
Make chores reasonable and manageable
Make sure that you pitch tasks at the right level. It is no use asking a four-year old, for example, to put away his or her toys if he doesn’t know where they are kept and crucially, why he is being asked to do it. Take the time to show your children how things are done and make sure that any equipment they need – whether it’s toy boxes, laundry baskets or vacuum cleaners – are accessible and familiar. If you’re looking for a new vacuum cleaner Tesco have a guide which will help you make the right choice.
Operate a reward or points scheme
It may be contentious, but from past experience, reward schemes are a very good way to encourage children to do things they may not want to do. This doesn’t necessarily mean doling out lots of extra pocket-money; you could consider allowing your children to stay up 15 minutes later, for example, for doing the hoovering, or offer to cook their favourite dinner if they make their bed for a week. Some families operate a points system. Pin a chart to your fridge and give each family member (including the adults!) points for doing tasks, recording them on the chart as you go. At the end of each week the person with the most points gets to decide on a family activity, such as a visit to the park or a film to watch.
Above all, treat your children with respect by explaining why you are asking them to help out. You might want to let your children know that these jobs help to keep the family home neat and tidy, for everyone to enjoy. Don’t use chores as punishments, instead encourage your kids to see them as a necessary part of living as a family.
Of course, there will always be times when they would rather play, watch TV or see their friends than do chores. Don’t despair, this doesn’t mean you have failed. Be firm but fair, and try to be consistent. One other word of caution – they may not always do jobs to your standard! It’s not so much the job itself here, but the getting there that counts.