This post is a summary of a Parents’ Talk about Kids’ Chore System I had the pleasure to give a couple of weeks ago at my kids’ school here in Dublin. If you’d like to watch the presentation, it’s over here. (14 min.)
Do you know that one woman created a list of 149 real-life skills we should teach our kids from age 2 to age 18? From “help empty dishwasher” at age 4 (“Yeah, my kids do this one!!”) to “Check and fill all car fluids” at age 16 (“OMG I didn’t think about that one!”) my enthusiasm began to melt away as the list went on and on… until I reached the end of the list and was completely overwhelmed.
I don’t know for you, but without getting this far, I think the author has a point. Beside developing real life skills – yes, “putting dirty socks in the hamper” IS a real-life skill if you ask me 😉 – I can think of a least 5 good reasons our kids should contribute more at home:
- To assert the value of hard work,
- To reinforce the family as a team,
- To help our kids become team players,
- To help us around the house
- But mostly to improve their independence and self-sufficiency on the long run.
So why do you think so few families actually share the household chores with their kids on a daily basis?
Are we lazy? I don’t think so.
Are we unaware of the benefits of our kids doing their chores at home? Of course, we’re not.
The reason is that we don’t know HOW or where to begin. We may have tried one system that did not work and then gave up the whole thing. Or found that the kids (or our husband!) were definitely not on board… and we didn’t want to fight this chores-battle alone.
This is why I think we need a step-by-step plan. If you’re like me, you wanna know:
- Where to begin
- Which system will work for your family’ specific needs and schedule
- How to make it work on the long run
Where to begin?
First I’d like to make a point that kids’ contribution at home is certainly a must — but is also just a part of a larger family set-up.
In my experience, a happier family life has a LOT of components, but 3 of them are:
- Family Rules,
- Family Meetings,
- and Kids’ Chore Systems.
Family Rules are fundamental because when you as a family have a rule about kids contributing to the household, kids simply won’t fuss over the « Why do I have to do that ? »…. and that’s one fight you won’t be missing a lot 🙂
Kids’ Chore Systems are the day-to-day incentives that help the kids to actually do their chores.
Family Meetings are the magic wand that keeps the system moving and improving. Family Meetings involve the whole family as a team working together for one same goal: a simpler and happier family life.
So if you’d like to implement something that will work, you’ll have to address Family Rules first. Only then you can work on Kids’ Chore Systems and Family Meetings.
How to define your Family Rules would require a long post of its own. But without getting too deep in this, I’ll tell you the most important part of it: which is to include one specific rule about “sharing the good times and the hard work together as a family”. Because when kids’ contribution is set as a rule with your family, then everyone has to share the load!
Which system will work for you?
In the vast galaxy of parenting tools, I’m sure you’ve heard of Star charts or Sticker Charts or Reward Charts… Maybe you saw your kids’ teacher using a Behavior Chart in your kids’ classroom. In some families, pocket money is also used as a reward for specific jobs or behaviors.
So which system will you choose? Which one works best? Which one should you go with, for a pre-teen that will hate you if you’re even trying to implement a good old “Star Chart”?
The only answer to all these questions is: take some time to brainstorm YOUR specific needs and your family specific schedule.
Only you know what will fly and what will fail in your home. Creating your own version of a kids’ chore system is the only guarantee that you’re not losing your time for an umpteenth parenting tool that won’t fit your family.
First, you’ll need to choose the jobs or contribution that will be included in the kids’ chore system. Using an Age-Appropriate Chore list seems a good start here. Then, you’ll have to define a Point System: how many stars for each specific job? Finally, you’ll have to choose the kind of rewards you’ll use: Quality-time rewards, Pocket Money, Technology Time Vouchers are good ideas, to begin with.
Yes, as you can see, I can not say it’s going to be a plug-and-play-easy-peasy process… But keep reading, the good news is coming 😉
How to make it work in the long run?
I’d like you to picture a Kids’ Chore System as a keystone in one building. A keystone is a central piece, it’s key, but it will NOT stand by itself.
This is what happens with any Kids’ Chore System. If tomorrow you implement only a Star Chart – and not the whole family set-up with Family Rules and Family Meetings- it will require tons of time and energy from you… and as soon as you turn your back and you’re not micro-managing your kids, their chores will not get done.
In a couple of weeks, the star chart will be abandoned: the Keystone could not stand by itself, without true reinforcing stones all around it. This is why I strongly encourage you to work FIRST on your Family Rules (your true reinforcing stones!) then work on creating your own Family Meetings… finally being able to use these meetings to brainstorm your own Kids’ Chore System with the whole family.
Sounds a lot of work, right?
For those of you who need guidance and an easy step-by-step plan to define Family Rules, implement Family Meetings and create Kids’ Chore Systems that will rock and will perfectly fit your family specific needs and schedule, I’m working on a workbook specifically dedicated to that:
Because in my world, each family deserves to experience the amazing benefits of an organized family set-up. My vision, my dream, and my plan are that the FAMILY FIRST Workbook will help you:
- Get more help from your kids with the household chores
- Teach them self-reliance and responsibilities
- Teach them real-life skills AND get you a tidier house at the same time
But even more:
- Help you engage in essential and deep conversations with your kids and spouse
- Help you enjoy more meaningful and fun-packed family moments, more often
- Create family memories and family traditions for years to come
I’m creating this “toolbox” for busy families who have strong family values but not a lot of time! The workbook will be set up to help you create Family Rules, Family Meetings and your own Kids’Chore System in just 5 days.
My ebook can already be bought in my Etsy Shop but I can’t resist the pleasure to give you a sneak peak here.
And of course, as usual, I’m more than happy to share a free resource that I’m sure you’ll find useful:
which of course is included in the FAMILY FIRST Workbook.
Hope you’ll like it! Happy organizing!
PS: And if you want you can also watch the presentation: