Friday, September 10, 2010

more about chores and other stuff

If there's one thing I'm lazy about, it's chores. And no, I don't mean doing them myself (although I can be lazy about that too), I mean getting the kids to do them. It's always easier to do them myself, especially when I'm busy and tired.

Last week, I shared my chores chart. You might also remember last year's discussion about kids and chores which I wrapped up here. So where are we at, 16 months later?

Well, I'm still not incredibly consistent about chores, but our kids are learning to do them, and they're even learning to do them cheerfully. Which can only be a good thing. Here's what I've learned about chores this year:

  • There are "just because you're in the family" chores, and organised chores. The first are spontaneous chores everyone has to do (like helping get ready for visitors). The second are an area of responsibility you give a certain child (like vacuuming or weeding). It's good to have both kinds.
  • There are chores kids like, and chores kids hate. Lizzy loves cooking and hates messy dishes: she has to help with both. Ben loves reading to his little brother and hates putting out the compost: he has to do both. Good preparation for life!
  • Some chores are about your stuff ("Put away your clothes") and others are about other people's stuff ("Put away your little brother's toys"). "It's not mine" is not a valid excuse.
  • It's hard to get chores going at first (expect lots of complaining if your kids are anything like mine!) but it gets easier as they get used to doing them. It's worth working through the pain.
  • I've asked around, and what's struck me is how different families do chores in very different ways. Some are highly organised, some haphazard; some depend on parental requests, others on kids remembering; some reward chores with pocket money, others with time to play; some do chores independently, others as a family. I'm not sure it matters, as long as kids are learning to help out around the house.
  • Different methods have different advantages. It's better to do something which works for you than to aim for perfection and do nothing.
  • The more experienced a parent you are, the more deaf you become to complaining and excuses. Bring it on!

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