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How to Get Your Kids to Help Around the House

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by Jen Alexander (subscribe)
Taking you in and around Brisbane (and sometimes beyond)
Published May 20th 2014
Children love housework
Let me start by saying I have not mastered this by any means, but I am on a journey, to empower my children to be helpful around the home.

We have a large (ish) family and as the saying goes many hands make light work. As our children are getting older they are appreciating the value of the dollar a little more .... so here are four tips to getting your children to help out more around the house.

1. Set a Culture of Helping

That's right, as a family we help each other. You know how Mum and Dad help by cooking, washing, and checking homework, and playing taxi, counsellor, nurse etc, etc, etc. And we don't get paid for any of that work, well, so too should children help other members of the family.

This can be done in a few ways ....

Helping younger siblings with reading or homework, picking up after yourself, and helping others when they need it. Helping to dress toddlers, or iron school uniforms. Daily jobs that just help keep the household in some resemblance of order - packing and unpacking the dishwasher, clearing the table, wiping down the benches, hanging up towels, dirty clothes in laundry etc. These are the things that we do with no financial reward. These 'nice things to do' along with some daily jobs.

We have a roster for the dinner time jobs that rotates the duties (based on age) to eliminate arguing over whose turn it is to feed to the dog.

2. Make Chores Fun

HA! I hear you say. Okay, so not a totally simple task, but sometimes (when I feel like pulling my hair out) I give them a challenge:
See how much you can get done in ten minutes (and set a timer)
See which group of kids can collect the most, rubbish, washing, etc
Divide kids into groups and give them jobs to do, take before and after photos to see who did the best job.

Play (their) music really loud and let them go a little crazy.
Or even let them cook or bake as part of their jobs, kids seem to have fun with this!

age appropriate kids chores, children house work, pocketmoney
The Ten Minute Challenge Works Wonders!

3. Set Age Appropriate Tasks

There are loads of websites that talk about this. In our household everyone helps - oldest to youngest - jobs are just divvied out based on age. Make sure you don't set the jobs too difficult (or, too easy/unfair to the others).

Here are a list of a few you can try:

Free Printables
Age Appropriate Chores
List of Family Chores

You can do up charts, or lists, I have also heard of some people pulling jobs out of a hat! Whatever works for your family.

4. Reward and Recognise

Kids should not feel that they need to be rewarded for everything they do (see Step 1) - but there should be a balance between helping the family for the greater good, and being rewarded for their work.

A few points here:

Recognition: can be thank you, cuddles, dessert, favourite dinners etc, time on the computer, watching a movie, going to the park etc. Rewards: can be linked to pocket money (we have Friday afternoon 'clean the house jobs' where we all get in a do a full tidy. Pocket money is based on this for us). But you don't have to just reward with money. You could take the kids somewhere special, buy them a book, a trip to the library .... the list goes on. Get creative and even get them involved in thinking up new ideas.

As I said, we have not got this down to a fine art. And I still have to resist the temptation to just get in and do it myself. It's about helping to set good habits for your children (boys and girls) for later in life. Well, that's what I tell myself at least.

Leave comments below for any ideas you have found good (or not!)
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