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I get asked a lot about getting kids on board. Helping them not to see chores as a means to an end (i.e. do chores, get computer time) but rather as something that builds the family up, that we do because we are unified in our love for our family, etc.
1. Spread housework and other tasks around so that they are shared work, not “mom’s.”
2. Have children see that working at home is not something they “have” to do but rather something that we do for our family—so that we can succeed in our family goals.
3. Teach children to “see a need and meet it.” Maximum efforts and help rather than minimal needed to get by.
4. Teach children to take full responsibility for tasks—not just when asked or not just partial responsibility.
5. Have a working family who gets things done so that we can all pursue our other things—and so that we have more time together.
General Starting Point Tips
1. Change your vocabulary. Unless you are a full time homemaker with no small children, no outside job at all, and no children at home to homeschool (in which case you would be the unheard of full-time homemaker, and you probably should do the bulk of the housework since that is your “job”), the work at home is not yours. It is everybody’s.
a. Not Mom’s work
b. Not adult work
c. Not paid work (more on that later)
2. Consider how much household help the adults/parents will do and how much needs to be done by children (for completion sake, not necessarily for character training sake).
3. Have a plan before presenting it to children. (More later in post…)
Older Kids/Kids Not Used to Much Work Around Home Right Now
a. If you have let them down by not emphasizing family unity through working together.
b. If you have let them down by not expecting anything of them, thus, not character training in diligence, responsibility, thoroughness, etc.
c. If you have let them down by not preparing them for their future (both skill-wise and character training-wise)
2. Brainstorm with them—what do they think is appropriate work for teens with jobs, homeschooling, sports, etc.? How would they like to divide work?
3. Have a tentative plan in place (don’t go into family meeting unprepared!).
a. Start with personal spaces—that each person, without pay or reward, is responsible for their own spaces and belongings.
b. Move to daily, regular, measurable, must-be-done to function on a day-by-day basis type of chores.
c. Plan for time to work together
i. Finding joy in working together
ii. Work times that are convenient for everybody
iii. Harder projects together (teaching opportunities, skill building, etc.)
4. Appeal to them in love
a. New Living Translation: “But because of our love, I prefer simply to ask you.”
b. New American Standard Version: “Yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you.”
c. King James: “Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee,”
5. It might be a little late for them to see the full benefit of this new approach (and see their work as part of a great family thing). If that is the case, for their character training and your sanity, put SOMETHING in place, get unified as parents, implement a visible plan, and do it anyway.
Younger Kids (the Younger, the Better)
1. Start out with a family mentality—we have the best family, our family works together, we love to help and support each other
2. Start out with a positive mentality about work
a. Work gets things done
b. Getting work done gives us more time together and more time for other things
c. Working hard is a good trait to have; it is sought after; praise hard work
3. Start out with the concept that work at home is everybody’s work—we all dirty the dishes, we all soil the clothes, we all eat the food: While Mom and Dad are in charge, we all need to do our part to to keep the home running.
4. Have work sessions together with the reward at the end of the family doing something fun together
5. Model how fast something can be done
6. Show them the math on how “many hands make light the work”
7. Have daily work spread out and show how it helps the entire family function
8. Expectation Explanations—CLEAR—chore chart, etc.
9. Talk about/approach chores from a family unity standpoint and not from a “must do” or “nagging” view
10. Make everybody’s work a part of your life just like their grooming, etc.
11. Make work fun—museum trips, ice cream….reward family work with family things
12. Help children see that they are gaining skills—praise their skill building and diligence
13. Bible/character training—diligence, responsibility, resourcefulness, thoroughness, etc.:
a. Great family devo/character training site (also good for Sunday school, children’s church, etc.)
b. Twenty-four character qualities with their definitions, verses to study, Bible characters who demonstrated it, animals, etc., to use for family character studies…click here.
14. Praise for skill building and character in work
15. Home improvement, kitchen, and cleaning purchases as a family when appropriate
16. Time management