You have the highest hopes when you launch your new chore chart system to your kids, but what happens when the system totally fails? If Chore Charts aren’t working for your family, don’t stress! There are other successful ways to get your kids on board with helping out around the house!
How to get your kids to clean up after themselves and to share household responsibilities without resorting to a chore chart.
Messy bedrooms, towels on the floor, toys everywhere… UGH. Having kids of my own, and working with children, there are constantly messes being made all day long. After a day of crafting, playing, exploring and experimenting, our home and yard can look like a cyclone hit.
Once up on a time, I thought I’d come up with the perfect system to get these sweet children to clean up after themselves without resistance or nagging or getting frustrated.
You see, I’d created these adorable little chore charts. When the kids completed a chore, they would earn a ticket which could be redeemed for privileges. What a system! My kids would obviously want privileges, so my house would be spotless without me having to hound everyone about cleaning up. It was a win-win.
Except it wasn’t.
Not even close.
That chore chart/no nagging dream crashed and burned in under a week. I took a break from the charts, tweaked them a little, and gave them a another shot a few weeks later, hoping they might work the second time around.
But they didn’t.
Within days, I found myself begging, pleading, and nagging again.
Apparently, getting kids to clean up after themselves is not as easy as whipping up a Pinterest-pretty chore chart.
Can you relate?
If it’s a struggle to get your kids to help around the house and chore charts never work, don’t worry. There are other ways to get your kids to clean up after themselves and help with household responsibilities.
What to do When Chore Charts Don’t Work:
Set Realistic Expectations when asking kids to clean up
As much as you might wish for that magazine-perfect home with pristine furniture and floors, it’s just unrealistic to expect that kids to help you keep your house looking picture-perfect. When you have kids, you have adjust your definition of clean and tidy a little. Expecting kids to clean up like they’re Molly Maid will overwhelm them, and you’ll all be frustrated and disappointed.
There will still be smudges of fingerprints here and there.
There may still be a few toys or puzzle pieces on the floor.
Things won’t be as pristine as they are in the magazine pictures.
But, on the plus side, your kids will be learning how to help.
Prepare to Repeat Yourself
You can have the best chore system in the world, and your kids will still need reminders, and you’ll still need to repeat yourself and remind them to do their chores.
As one friend said, “We live in a time when we feel we should say something once and it will be done with forever, but children don’t subscribe to that paradigm.” So, prepare to repeat yourself, but try to avoid nagging.
Check-lists work well. Give each child a “To-Do” list, and keep it posted on the fridge or in their room. They can check off their assigned tasks as they complete them.
Make Cleaning Up a Game
Instead of associating chores with rewards, make tidying up a game. Set a timer and try to have everything cleaned up before the bell dings. Play some music, and aim to have the room clean by the time the music ends. Nothing motivates a kid more than a race or a challenge. Cheer each other on while you’re tidying.
Sing the clean up song while you’re all pitching in. For me, this is the best motivator for getting young children to clean up their toys. They all sing along, and we don’t stop singing until the toys are all picked up and put away where they belong.
When someone mentioned that I should remove distractions before asking the kids to clean-up, it was like a lightbulb went off for me.
How often do I get distracted mid-task if Facebook notifications and emails are battling for my attention. Shut off all electronics: turn off the t.v., put the tablets away, and then start cleaning up. It’s made such a difference, and I’ve noticed that my kids are quicker and more diligent about cleaning than ever before.
Keep the Chores Age-Appropriate
It may sound obvious not to assign “unload the dishwasher” to the 18-month old, but it’s equally as important to make sure you’re assigning appropriate chores to the older children too.
There are plenty of age appropriate chore lists online but it’s important to consider each child’s physical abilities when assigning these chores. An older child may be capable of putting out the trash, but think about your child’s height and weight when you’re choosing chores for him. If he’s not strong enough to pull the heavy trash cans by himself, that’s not going to be a task that’s appropriate for him.
We’re All In This Together
Stress that it’s your family home, and therefore, everyone in the family has an obligation to pitch in and take care of it. Explaining that you operates as a team makes it easier to sell the idea of family clean-up time, and it effectively prevents someone from saying “but, I didn’t make this mess” or asking “why do I have to help?”
While you might know what you mean when you say “clean your room,” those words can be too general for a child. Not knowing where to start can be totally overwhelming. Instead of issuing a blanket statement be specific about what you want done. “Pick up the blocks and put them in the block bin” is a lot easier for a child to understand and do because it’s much more specific. Break the task down into bite-sized pieces, and your child will be able to understand and manage the task.
It’s not easy, but it IS worth it.
It’s not always easy to get kids in the habit of helping with household chores and responsibilities, but once you get them there, your efforts will have been worth it, and you can ditch the chore charts. The earlier you start, the sooner your kids will learn what’s expected of them. Their chores will become a regular part of their daily or weekly routine, and they’ll be less likely to question or resist taking on bigger responsibilities as they get older.
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.