How to Share the chores: This article is about kids and when to get them in on the act. This is only a brief section because though I’ve brought up two lovely kids myself, I’m not a child-psychologist and I’m certainly not advocating any right or wrong ways of doing things. These are just a few little extra tips to help get you thinking.
Many moms ask me this, but the short answer is – it depends on the child.
In my opinion, get them started as soon as they are able. This can usually be 4-7 years old, but remember, all kids develop at their own rate, so really it’s when they are ready, and not when you think they should be.
Be aware of any danger the task may ensure because the last thing you want them to do is to break something or injure themselves in any way. Always, always make their safety your first priority!
At around 4-5 years old, start your children on some very simple “fun” things that are not a priority to you. In that way your kids feel they’re contributing but aren’t a hindrance if they do something wrong.
Remember, always try to be patient with them because they are only kids after all, and are bound to make mistakes.
Do, however, encourage them to tidy their room as soon as they are able. Focus especially on getting your kids to put things away. This not only teaches responsibility, but it also establishes good habits at an early age. Strangely, when my son was little he was much tidier than my daughter at that age, but as soon as he reached 10 – it was as if he’d been possessed by the Tasmanian Devil!
At a later stage, say 7-9 years old, start to give them some regular little jobs around the house that are actually useful, such as taking out some of the trash or helping with the washing up. Obviously , keep an eye on them but encourage your kids to do these unattended. Try to make them feel it is an ‘honor’ to do these tasks.
Once they reach 11 years, try to make the kids’ bedrooms their own personal responsibility. Get them to routinely make their beds and change the bedding (supplied by you), and try to get them into the habit of sorting their washing before giving it to you. Also get your kids to occasionally vacuum around the living room or give their dad a hand in the garden. Try to make them feel more part of a “cleaning team”, rather than simply someone to be catered for.
The kitchen timer method explained in the previous chapter can go a long way in hopefully making this fun as well as motivating for the kids. Give it a try sometime and see what the results can be!
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