Getting Kids to Do Chores

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I’ve made two blog posts about chores, recently:

The Chore of Chores discusses the importance of getting our kids to do chores. Chore List lists guidelines for deciding which chore a child can do.

The fact remains, however, that kids don’t like to do chores. So how do you get them to cooperate?

Do chores together. Everything is more fun with a partner. Work side by side with your child. Have your child clear the table while you wash the dishes. One of you vacuum while the other folds laundry. (Pick up those feet!) One take things off the shelves while the other dusts and wipes down the whole piece of furniture. Buy two rakes. Have a race and clean out two kitchen cabinets. See who can match the most socks. Chop vegetables together. Your child can pick up toys while you get out spring clothes.

You can also do unrelated chores – you pay bills while your child cleans the kitchen. It’s the companionship – and the oversight – that matters the most. And when possible, make a point to have a positive conversation going on.

Put on some music. Flylady is a great advocate of putting on some loud and happy music while doing chores. It’s hard to go slow or be lazy while listening to “I’m So Excited” by the Pointer Sisters. And yes, I just dated myself.

Time limit. Break out that timer and fire it up. “Ten minutes to put up the groceries, Ash!” Or, offer an incentive. “Clean the bathroom mirror well in under five minutes and I’ll swab the toilet.”

Lower your standards. I gave up long ago on trying to keep the kitchen towels separate from the kitchen rags. Now they just go in one drawer, and I know which is which. And that beautifully ornate toothbrush holder that never got clean? I ditched it for one that can be easily rinsed. Don’t match your socks – just throw them in one basket. Don’t use top sheets on your beds, just use a comforter. There are some things in your house that aren’t worth the bother it takes teaching your kids to maintain them. You know the ones that are the most important to you – the ones truly worth the trouble.

There are other standards that may need to go. Don’t require a perfectly made bed. (I am embarrassed to say that I still don’t require a made bed at all…) Don’t make your kids hang up the towels perfectly. I’m not saying to let your child do things halfway. But there is a happy medium. You just have to find it.

Bribe. Not really. I once read that a bribe was a payment for doing something bad. Any payment for doing something good was called a paycheck. Consider paying your child – in cash or in privileges – for some chores.

About Kayla

Kayla Fay is a freelance writer and the mother of four boys, three of whom have been formally diagnosed with the inattentive type of ADHD. When she started “Who Put the Ketchup in the Medicine Cabinet?” in 2002, her sons were ages 8 through 14, when her life was a “progression of dirty laundry, lost homework, misunderstood Algebra, and a whole lot of love and fun”.

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