A couple days ago I tried an experiment, and I went live on Facebook while the kids took care of their “contributions.”
That’s what I try to call them rather than calling them chores.
Because it sounds a little bit less negative or like a punishment that way.
Plus, I am trying to teach the kids that when you are part of a household, everyone contributes.
I want both the girls and the boys to know that nothing is just a woman’s job, and nothing is solely reserved for men.
Everyone does everything.
I hadn’t given them any warning about this. I randomly called everyone into the dining room to let them know what my plan was, and then while they did their stuff, I sat in my office and hung out live on Facebook.
My goal in doing this was to show that your kids CAN have responsibilities around the house and do them consistently and without nagging, yelling, threatening and completely losing your sh*t.
There were a few issues, unsurprisingly.
There was a missing toilet brush. The vacuum didn’t work initially. One of the kids had legitimately been sick for three days and wasn’t feeling well and just disappeared into bed, leaving three responsibilities completely neglected. There was some arguing in the background at first.
But I had never done anything like this before.
I had never even done a Facebook live ever with all the kids at home before, let alone done one while I asked the kids to spend 30 minutes cleaning up around the house in the middle of a Friday which was also the seventh day of Christmas vacation.
So I was pretty pleased with how it went for an experiment where I just kind of winged it.
My kids are very good about contributing, and 90% of the time, they do it without having to ask more than once, and without having to ask them to redo a job.
This has taken a huge load off of my shoulders, and it has absolutely allowed me to keep the house much neater than it has ever been.
But this has been a work in progress.
It has taken us a few years to get to where we are now.
If I had been more consistent a couple years ago, I could have gotten to this point a lot earlier!
But you live and learn.
How did we get to this point?
By doing the following things:
1. I took responsibility for the problem.
I sat everyone down and had a family meeting.
I told the kids that I had not done my job as their mother to teach them to be responsible around the house. I put the ownership on me. Because ultimately, I was the one who had set up the routine. Which was the routine of the kids not helping out and me doing way too much for them.
2. We started small.
You can’t go from zero to sixty in one day. You need to introduce this stuff gradually. Because it can be overwhelming for the kids, and it will for sure be overwhelming for you.
3. I devoted lots of time for training.
I showed the kids how to load and operate the dishwasher. I taught them how to operate the washing machine and the dryer and how to assemble and disassemble all the parts of the vacuum. I showed them how to clean the toilets and the sinks in the bathroom. I showed them how to replace the liner in the garbage can. I did all of these things more than once. And when one kid really got the hang of it, I let them be the teacher to the other kids.
4. We came up with the jobs together.
We talked about what things are important to keeping the house running. We talked about the things that bother them or stress them out at home when they aren’t done.
We started with one job a day for each kid, and then we worked our way up to four jobs for each of the kids (Number 1 and 2 aren’t at home, so they aren’t on the list).
5. I rotated the jobs.
I didn’t want any of the kids to feel like they got stuck with the “bad” or “hard” jobs, so we rotated through them. And every day I shifted everyone down one job.
That way, everyone did everything.
6. I cleaned with the kids.
When you are contributing at the same time as the kids, you are modeling and leading by example. There is no resentment. There is no “Why do we have to do this and you don’t?” This also left me available to help out with problems that inevitably arise (like the vacuum getting clogged).
7. I stayed consistent.
I finally realized that feeling sorry for the kids and letting them have days (which turned into weeks) where the kids didn’t have to contribute led not only to me feeling super frustrated, but to them being really confused. I really wasn’t doing them (or myself) any favors by letting them do nothing to contribute.
And now life is much better here in our house.
Everything on this chart takes the kids a total of thirty minutes a day, at the most, to complete.
Like I said, it has taken us a while to get to this point.
But it has been a life changer.
People often say to me, I don’t know how you do it.
Well, this is how.
I have taught my kids that everyone contributes.
No matter what your kids’ ages are, they can also contribute.
And they should.
Contributing to the household teaches your kids how much goes into running a house. When your kids are cleaning up a room, they are way more invested in keeping it neat because they know what goes into cleaning it.
Your kids are empowered and self-confident and that much closer to independence, which is the ultimate goal.
And ultimately, it makes your job as a parent a little bit easier.
So it’s a win for everyone.
You are a rockstar! Thank you for this. I’m going to start training them in all the areas of cleaning the house. What better time than summer break?! I get, “you don’t do anything for us” more often than I care to admit.
Love this idea, what do the numbers on your chart mean? Also what ideas do you have for children with developmental disabilities. Our youngest of 4 is differently abled and it is really tough to constantly hear, why doesn’t she have to do jobs.
Thank you- Bridget
not your average mom says
When I first started the blog, it was recommended that I didn’t use the kids actual names. So I called them all by number kind of as a joke, not thinking it would have any level of success. So the kids are Number 1, Number 2, Number 3, etc. (Number 1 and 2 are in their 20’s and don’t live at home anymore). So 3,4, 5, 6, and 7 are the five youngest kids. As far as developmental disabilities, that’s tough to say without knowing what they are. Does she go to school?
My son is has down syndrome and is autistic. I give him assistant jobs like a spray bottle with water and a rag to wipe down table and cabinets. He loves to hold the dustpan while we sweep. And has gotten excellent at toy sorting and putting them away. I took pictures of what goes into each bin and taped them to the outside so he could see what goes where. He is great at putting clothes into the washer and taking them out of the dryer into the basket. He the official assistant for jobs around the house. He feels proud to have the title (you can make a badge or special hat to help encourage) and the other kids see him contribute.
Sandy Theriux says
Love this. I’m 77 now but my kids were taught to keep their rooms cleaned, out everything back where it belonged, vacuum daily and all the other tasks that keep a household running smoothly. I also taught by example. I NEED order in my life to function. If more parents did this their lives would be so much easier. Rock on mom!
not your average mom says
Thanks Sandy! It can for sure be tough to stay consistent, but it’s so much better for all of us when I do!
Anthony (tony) Saracino says
AHHH…. consistencey……..& too many think its their #1 goal to be their offsrings F R I E N D & dont do their job as a parent..TY
Shirley Thiele says
We started this when our grandson was a little guy.
I think he was two….which meant we cleaned together for two minutes.
When he was three….three minutes.
If I was working on something, say dusting and vacuuming. If he wanted to play together, than he could wait or he could help.
He just learned to take care of everyone, as they did him.
What we ask kids to do today takes very little time per day
(Which is great because they have a lot of responsibility with school, sports and all their other activities..
You will be tempted to let them off the hook because they are busy….DON’T.
Life is always busy.
They will be leaving you….to go to college, or to live on their own with full time jobs.
They need to learn to juggle everything. It’s real life.
PS Noah’s list would usually take him 15-20 minutes top now at 16.