Wash, dry, fold, cook, clean, vacuum, sweep, REPEAT.
Oh, the joys of home life.
If you’re like me, the repetition and monotony of performing the mundane tasks of keeping a home can make you feel frustrated and maybe even a bit trapped.
It’s an endless cycle, necessary, but with short-lasting rewards: There’s always something to be done. Every. Single. Day.
In my family, four children (and two grown-ups) proliferate the need for constant home upkeep and attention.
I could ramble endlessly about the amount of energy and work it takes to merely keep up, especially while working full-time, but that wouldn’t help anyone. The fact is, housework is just part of raising a family, and it just needs to be done.
But one thing I know for sure, is that I don’t have to do it all myself!
Now that the majority of our children are old enough to help with our day-to-day family chores in a meaningful way, my husband and I are enlisting their help. Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
Give clear guidance
It’s easy for everyone to get frustrated when expectations are unclear. Simply telling (or yelling at or nagging at) our children to clean their rooms, doesn’t always cut it. We may envision a bed that’s made and all their toys in their appropriate places, but in the mind of a 5-year-old, “Clean your room,” could mean something totally different — like shoving toys under the bed to clear a path.
We have to remember to give clear guidance to our children, often actually showing them how to perform a desired task, teaching and modeling our expectations. It takes some time at first, but it’s what they need to develop these life skills.
In a perfect world, my children would have matching socks every day. (Your kids might, but mine don’t.) Personally, I feel a sense of accomplishment getting all four kids out the door on time fully clothed each day!
My kids are old enough to get dressed themselves, and, for our family, this means our 3-year-old may sometimes go to daycare with his shirt on backwards, our 5-year-old might wear the same shirt to school twice in one week, and our 7-year-old might sometimes walk out the door with mismatched socks.
The same mindset applies when involving my children with chores around the house. If I ask my kids to sweep the floors, it may not be as thorough as if I were to do it myself, but they’re learning and making an effort to help. If there’s something that needs retouching, so be it. With continued practice and involvement, children can build independence.
Make it a part of life
Marty Rossman, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, studied a group of children throughout their early years and into young adulthood. Her findings showed that those who participated in chores as youngsters were more successful than those who didn’t. Chores teach responsibility, provide a sense of accomplishment and build a stronger family unit.
In our family, we have many conversations with our kids about responsibility and the importance of working together to get a job done. Every chore isn’t tied to some kind of a reward. Our children may not always be eager participants, but they understand the importance of their role.
Focus on fun
We can liven up our family routines by having some fun. Playing energizing music during chores or dinner cleanup time can be both fun and memorable. Trying out different organizational strategies like chore charts, or even apps like Chore Monster, can make a positive difference in the engagement and attitudes of children, too.
In our family, involving our children with household tasks hasn’t worked out perfectly — yet — but we’re making progress.