You don't have to do it all (aka housework) when you have children in the house. If you want to raise self-sufficient, capable young people, create an easy-to-follow chore system. Sure, growing up you hated chores yourself but now you have a completely different perspective. You have goals like finding more time for you. Here's how your chore system can become the greatest time management tool.
At first, you may think it's just easier if you do everything yourself. You may cringe at the slow pace! But in the long run, you will appreciate having children who contribute to running an organized household and who take their share of responsibility. Working parents need every extra hand to keep their work-life balance reasonably sane.
Introduce Your Chore System
Rather than announcing new chores, get your kids to brainstorm about what they'd like to learn. If they can't think of anything, show them a list of age-appropriate chores to choose from. Next, teach them the chores until they master them. You don't want to set them up for failure or have them feel incompetent. Your children want to make you happy (most of the time) to give them the tools to do just that before allowing them to be completely independent with their new jobs.
Research suggests that chores give children a wonderful sense of accomplishment. They're even shown to reduce stress and increase well-being in adults because you can finish the task and feel that you've succeeded. (As opposed to the many other unending to-do lists in your life.) It's important to stay positive, resist criticizing, and let your children do chores imperfectly, even if you can do it better. Otherwise, how will they learn?
Pick Developmentally Appropriate Chores
If the brainstorming session didn't go over well set your chore system up for success and pick the right level of difficulty for your child's age. If you choose a job that is too hard for your child, it will be discouraging and demoralizing for them. If you aim too low, they may get bored.
Your chore list should consist of jobs that a child can do that contributes to the entire family, not just themselves. Children should increasingly take responsibility for their self-care, and not consider those activities as a "chore." Putting away their belongings, dressing themselves, brushing teeth, and the like are not truly chores.
Feel free to add your own suggestions and ideas to the list of chores that kids can do! Every home and every child is different. Your child may be ready to learn a certain task earlier or later than these guidelines and not every home needs some of these suggestions done. If you get stumped, make a list of the chores you do regularly and delegate appropriately.
Create a Chore Board
Once the list is made, post it where they can view it. There are many chore boards you can purchase with magnets or you can simply print out your list and leave a pen nearby. Regardless of how you set up the list, you must have the list up somewhere for the kids to see.
With this chore board, everyone knows what needs to get one, what's left to do, and who should be doing it. This sets expectations and gives your kids a sense of accomplishment.
Get Into a Chore Routine
When getting your children in the routine of doing chores, think about how their daycare center or elementary school reinforces new routines and skills. Every single morning, the children enter the classroom, hang up coats, put away backpacks, and contribute to the orderly functioning of the group. It probably takes the teacher a half-dozen repetitions to teach the fastest children in the class and maybe a couple of dozen times to train the children who are a bit slower.
Teach your children that doing chores doesn't take long. The more they do it, the better they will get at it. This chore system will teach them persistence and teamwork. Say this mantra often to them, "Many hands make light work".
Practice Patience and Avoid Constant Criticism
You are going to have to be extremely patient to implement this system. For the next month be prepared that your house won't be as clean as you'd like it. Expect a few disagreements between you and the kids and between the kids themselves. Take this opportunity to teach your kids that change can be a challenge and that everyone needs to be patient. It will all be worth it in the end.
If you overly criticize your kid's efforts, your chore system is doomed. No one will want to participate if chores are one more thing that can get them in trouble. So the first few times they do it on their own you can make suggestions like "I wonder what would happen if you pulled the sheet a little tighter" or "Would you like to hear a trick I know about making the bed?"
Keep Chores Fun by Changing Them Monthly
During your brainstorming, you'll think of a ton of chores you want to delegate. Of course, you can't make your kids do them all, but you can stage them out by month. Keeping things fresh like this keeps chores fun. You could use their input when changing the chores or use a chore wheel or a jar of jobs (Pinterest always has a bunch of ideas for this!).
Children also deserve a little variety in the chores they do each day. Some experts recommend rotating chores every week so that nobody is stuck with something they hate for too long. Over time you'll see what works best for your family.
When your kids start to complain that the chores are boring, that's often a sign that they need a bigger challenge. Instead of letting them pour water into plastic cups, give them a pitcher of juice and real glasses. Or when they've mastered peanut butter on toast for breakfast, let them graduate to scrambled eggs and bacon. A bit of danger makes it fun for the kids. (Just make sure to supervise!)
You'll love your chore system for so many reasons. You'll discover what your children are truly capable of and feel proud of them. That will result in them being proud of themselves! They'll notice how happy you are because they are helping out and the house is cleaner. You'll also enjoy the extra time you'll have which you can use to spend quality time with your family.
Give your chore system a few months to settle in and stick with it! You need this and so don't your kids. Plus it's a great way to keep your kids off their screens (and you, too!)