I can clearly remember the days where all I wanted to do was 'help' my mom or dad when I was little. Looking back, I count myself pretty lucky that I had two parents, as well as grandparents who loved to let me help them with tasks. Helping out in the kitchen gave me a heart for cooking for my family. Helping with chores gave me a sense of responsibility and how to care for a house. Helping to take care of a family pet gave me a broader sense of responsibility and painted a clear picture of what it's like to have someone depend on you for basic needs.
I have my own two little helpers, both different in the ways they offer their help. My three-year-old loves to help with things like vacuuming, enjoying 'scrubbing,' loves to 'cut up veggies,' and make peanut butter sandwiches on her own. My eight-year-old enjoys helping to dust the house, set the table, helping his dad wash the cars, and even enjoys helping me sort laundry and match socks. Both of my kids love to help in the garden and flower beds around the house and enjoy watering the flowers.
A night out at a live family show in Charlotte was a great treat for the kids after a couple of weeks of staying on track with responsibilities at home and at school.
Giving kids age-appropriate tasks helps them learn responsibility at an early age- a skill very-much needed to succeed as they grow up and through adulthood.
'Let kids be kids,' a phrase we hear all the time is one that grates on me. While I'm all for not forcing kids into growing up too quickly, I'm also all for giving them simple tasks and responsibilities which will help them gain an understanding and appreciation for things that are often taken for granted. A little elbow grease never hurt anyone, am I right? So, how do you know what responsibility should look like for your child? When I was growing up, chores were just part of the day to day responsibilities of every member of my household. My sister and I knew what was expected of us, therefore, there was never really a gray area when it came to the things we were responsible for. Finding age-appropriate tasks for your kids is the first step in setting up a chore chart or schedule. MBP Contributor Lindsey wrote a great piece a while back about appropriate chores for kids ages 5-8.
Chores don't have to extend to kids 5+, only. Even my three-year-old has daily chores. Every morning, both of my kids straighten their beds, put their jammies in their PJ drawer, and place any dirty laundry in the bathroom hamper. My son pours his own drink for breakfast and is responsible for getting dressed before the morning timer goes off, which signals that it's time for him to brush his teeth, get his shoes on, and get his backpack so he can head out the door. Weekend chores usually include some of the tasks I mentioned above and more. He's a champ at wiping down baseboards, putting his own laundry away, and helping to keep his room tidy.
Have a hand-vac? Let your little one look for things to vacuum up around the house. Beanie loves to help me vacuum at home.
My preschooler loves to help in any way that is safe for her to do so. She helps with light cooking, loves to help pack lunchboxes, and is an awesome helper when it comes to picking up books and toys. I keep a fairly tidy house, and my kids know that if they get something out to play with or to create art with, it has to be put away before they can take something else out. This teaches them the 'clean as you go' method (and in my opinion, this makes life much easier!).
Both kids help with dishes- the youngest helps me unload (unbreakable) dishes and cups and put them where they belong. My oldest helps load dirty dishes into the dishwasher and is always responsible for placing any soiled dishes into the kitchen sink. Easy peasy- even my three-year-old is starting to put her own dirty dishes in the sink.
Should you pay your kids to do chores?
Ooo, this is a toughie. Well, I'd have to say that it's up to you. If you want to implement a reward system to give your kids an incentive to help more, that's your prerogative. Personally, I don't believe in paying my kids to help out around our house. Pitching in is an expectation of mine because we all live in and make messes in our home, therefore, we all work together as we're able to keep it a clean and healthy living space for the family and our guests.
I do like to keep track of the progress my kiddos are making daily in their efforts to help with things around the house. I don't assign tasks, but again, this type of system does work better for some families. There are tons of adorable printable chore charts and reward charts, which are free to download and use at home. If you are looking for an easy way to introduce your kids to chores, starting with a daily responsibility chart might be the right move for you.
I don't assign chores to my kids, and I like to let them jump in and help with things (again, if it's safe for them) when they express an interest. It gives them the sense of 'oh, this is how we do things around here,' and feels more like a part of their normal homelife routine rather than a chore, which can have a negative connotation and feel more like a punishment. As for rewards? Sure, Sacha and I do reward our kids for staying on track with responsibilities, and completing what's expected of them with good attitudes. As for paying them- they are allowed to offer time to family members (such as grandparents) to help them with chores around their homes, and they are given the chance to go above and beyond with extra tasks at home to earn piggy bank money.
'Just because' treats really are special to my kids when they're true 'treats' and are completely unexpected.
I used to take my kids out to eat or buy them treats or toys nearly every time we stepped foot in a store... for no reason. My husband would shake his head at me, telling me that they would come to expect it, have less respect for me, and those 'treats' would become highly disposable. I shrugged the comments off and went on doing these things, and quickly learned that he was right all along. As soon as my eight-year-old's attitude and tone of voice took a major dive, I put a stop to all of it and learned to say 'no.' It was hard for me at first, but now, it's almost as easy as saying 'hello' to someone.
I was taught to have respect for my home and my belongings at an early age, which helped me learn to appreciate the things I had and to take pride in my home. This is something I hope to instill in my kids. I hope and pray that they take note of how hard their parents work to give them the things they do have and to treat those things with care. In turn, when they become young adults, I hope to see them use those skills to work hard for the things they want.
As much as I want to do every little thing for my kids (it's a parental instinct, isn't it?), or give them the sun, moon, and stars, I know that it's an irresponsible way for me to raise them. I have no problem reminding my kids that while I love them with everything I have within, it's my job to raise them to be responsible, respectful, and kind kids, so that when they're on their own one day, they will be kind, responsible, self-sufficient, respectful, respectable, successful adults.
A parent can only hope.
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