I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I am working for my children! I mean really, they almost expect me to come running when they ring a bell! Okay, so maybe it’s not that bad, but sometimes it feels like that. A few months ago, after a particularly long and exhausting day of doing my list of monotonous chores I decided to take action. My children were certainly old enough to handle some day to day household work, and it would free up more of my time which I could use to spend with them. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt for them to get their hands dirty and start to understand how much mom really does during the day to keep everything running smoothly.
After some brainstorming, and of course some Pinterest searching, I combined all my favorite ideas into what I thought would work best for my family. There are so many ideas out there!! What did we do before the internet? Oh wait, maybe we got more housework done, oh well! Anyways, kids at any age are able to help out and contribute to the family, and encouraging them to do this helps to foster independence, creates a sense of family unity, and teaches valuable life skills.
Children thrive in a structured and routine environment. Routine helps children to know what comes next, thus helping them to feel safe and comforted. Morning and bedtime routines really help to make those stressful times of day more relaxing and happy. After having my first child, routines became a huge part of out day, and although the routine changed slightly with each child I had thereafter, there was still always a set routine each day. Where I failed in this at first, was not incorporating daily housework into the daily routine. Even children as young a 12 months can help out!
I set out to create a visual reminder of their daily routine. My kids happen to be very visual, so I created a fun chart with pictures which allows them to see what comes next, and also allows them to check it off each day when they complete their task. Before the chart, I would constantly be shouting out reminders of what needed to get done, so this chart has actually saved my voice and sanity in that aspect. Now I just point to the chart – the chart does not lie. The chart also added daily housework to their routine, which took them a few days to get used to, but they are actually having fun with it.
Each chart is different for each child, as some have homework to do, and some need reminders to go pee pee on the potty, but each child’s chart has a task of ‘Pick a Stick’, which means they pick a stick from the jar and complete the task written on that stick. The sticks are color coded for each child as the chores differ depending on the child’s age. Examples of tasks are, vacuum kitchen floor, sort your laundry, pick up bedroom, etc. They are required to complete this task before they can even ask to watch TV, play electronics or basically do anything fun.
So far this system has been working out great! The chores are easy enough that they are not overwhelmed doing them, and they are things that I do every day, so its been nice to have some help. But the biggest thing I have noticed, is that I find them helping out when not even asked. Since it is built into the daily routine, they have learned to just do things, when they see something that needs to be done. I have also seen some instances where once child will say to another, “don’t make a mess, I just cleaned that up” or “eat over the table, I just vacuumed” They are beginning to nag just like me, and I couldn’t be more proud!
In case you need some ideas, here are a few age appropriate household jobs kids can do.
1-2 Year Olds – Put toys away, put dirty clothes in the laundry hamper, sweep, dust (we put an old sock on their hands, and let them go to town)
3-5 Year Olds – Dust, Set table, Clean up Table after meals, sort laundry, sweep or vacuum, clean their bedroom, make their bed
School Age Kids – Can basically do anything an adult can do – with a little help sometimes.
To make the chart I used colored cardstock, glued on white paper for the labels and labeled with the appropriate chores, and then added self adhesive magnet strips, so that they could close the task once completed and “check” it off. The magnet strips I found at JoAnn Fabrics.