Are you feeling busier and more overwhelmed by housework than ever? Do you wish you had more time and energy to organize your home the way you want to? Or maybe you’ve started a decluttering project, but you really wish your family would jump on board and help?
You’re not alone. In fact, getting kids to help with chores is a hot topic right now in Clutter Boss Academy.
What if I told you there’s a way to delegate your household chores AND give your kids the invaluable gift of learning life lessons?
Sounds too good to be true, right?!
The good news is, it’s not. Granted, it may not be easy at first as there will be some pushback from your kids if this is a new thing… but it’s OK. In fact, it’s completely normal.
I urge you to stay strong here. Teaching your kids to do consistent chores will not only help YOU get things done, it’ll also create some consistency, routine, and responsibility for your kids which is hugely important — especially this year with the scary unknowns in our lives today.
Why Should Kids Help With Chores?
As crazy as 2020 is, the truth is it’s never been a better year to teach your kids how to help with chores around the house. After all, they are spending a lot more time at home.
#1: Chores empower kids with real life skills.
Empowering our children with life skills sets them up for success. Imagine sending your child to college and how overwhelming that experience is — being away from home for the first time, making new friends, higher expectations from professors, and so on.
Imagine if, on top of these huge life changes, they don’t know how to do laundry, or cook a meal, or clean up at the end of the day. Your child shouldn’t have to learn these basic skills on top of having their world turned upside down living away from home.
Teaching our kids how to do basic household chores is truly a gift you can give them. So when they inevitably argue and fight back because they feel you are imposing on them more, remember it’s your job as a parent to teach them the life skills that they need when they leave your home.
This process may be frustrating and exhausting in the beginning, and it may feel easier to just give in and do the task yourself — but remember at the end of the day, you’re giving them an invaluable gift.
#2: We need more help now than ever.
Studies have shown that women are working more (as in, the workforce) AND are still juggling the majority of household tasks.
And we just can’t do it all ourselves.
Nor should we have to! It’s time that EVERYBODY helps out. Embrace the philosophy of “If you’re living in this house, you need to help out.” This is how families have been set up for all of humanity, and nothing should change now. In fact, we need to empower our children more and expand their skill set to help out around the house because parents (especially moms) are doing a lot more than ever before.
#3: Chores give kids a sense of purpose.
When children help with specific tasks and chores, it makes them feel like an important part of your family. It makes them feel valuable. This gives them purpose. When they have a purpose in your family, it’s a direct link to feeling their purpose in navigating social situations as they grow up.
For children, feeling like they are important at a very young age is critical to their mental stability. As they get older and deal with more complicated matters, as we’ve all done, they might begin to question everything — their purpose, their value, why they exist, why are they here? But as children grow into young adults, feeling like a valuable member of the family is a critical foundation to mental stability.
HOW Do You Get Kids to Help?
The details of this will vary depending on what works best for your family. But the formula is simple: set the expectation and then follow up to make sure it’s done.
Yes, there might be arguments in the beginning when you impose more expectations and more chores on your children. Maybe they’re not used to helping out, or having a higher expectation of them, so it’s natural for them to push back.
Make chores non-negotiable.
It’s important to make chores non-negotiable. Chores need to reach the state of “it’s just how it is” in your home.
For example, in my home my daughters have no access to their phones or technology until their chores are done. I also keep the chores written down so it’s clear for everyone.
“It’s just how it is” with chores in your home will remove the discussions, the arguments, and the negotiating surrounding them. Keep it simple: If you do this, then you get that.
Make the chores fun!
I know, I know. No one actually likes doing chores, right? But we all need to do them, so we might as well make it a good experience.
Here are a few things you can do:
Put on music while you work.
Remember that hours and hours of chores isn’t fun for anyone! Break them up into smaller, manageable, age-appropriate chunks.
Most importantly, YOUR attitude in the way you approach household work sets the tone for your kids. Lead by example. Do what you can to make this time a positive experience.
Be consistent and build chores into the routine.
The way you do chores is up to you and what works best for your family. But consistency is important. Stick to it a little each day, because once you break consistency it’s hard to rebuild it. Things that become a part of our routine are much easier to commit to and get done on a regular basis.
Start with chores that will make the biggest impact on your day.
What are the pain points in your house?
For example, is it frustrating waking up and seeing stuff everywhere? Then tackle this first. In this example, the first chore to establish is cleaning up and putting away at the end of each day.
In Clutter Bootcamp, one thing I preach is “Don’t let your drop zones become stay zones!” As a family, spend 20 minutes every night tackling those drop zones so that it’s taken care of for the next day. And if this is the one chore your kids help with at first, that’s great! Because it’s maximizing your ability to function the next day.
Figure out the biggest chore that’s holding you back the most and start there.
Done is better than perfect.
I see this in a lot of families — we tend to micromanage the things our children do. We want it done exactly this way, and it’s frustrating when our kids don’t seem to comply.
Embrace the mindset done is better than perfect. Learning how to do a new chore is a skill, and children are not going to get it perfect the first time. Or even the second or third time. And that’s OK! Because the goal here is to get your kids involved in household chores and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Be careful not to hurt this feeling with criticism, and focus on the bigger picture.
Which Chores Should Your Kids Help Out With?
The answer is… Everything!
Of course, certain tasks may need to be modified for age appropriateness. But ultimately, there’s not one task they can’t help with.
Let’s take a look at laundry, for example. Kids can start helping with laundry from the time they start walking!
First, teach them to pick up and put clothes in the hamper.
Then, when they’re a little older, teach them how to get dressed.
They need to learn: Where do my shirts live? Where are my socks? Shoes?
If they can dress themselves, that is awesome! And yes they may come up with their own questionable fashion looks here, but remember… done is better than perfect. The goal is to let them find the appropriate articles of clothing themselves.
Bring their hamper or clothing to the laundry room.
Learn how to put the clothing in the washer and dryer.
Lastly, folding and putting away.
Yes, young kids usually don’t fold things the way we do. But they can fold in their own way and put the clothing away. Remember, the goal is to have them put the clothing away, not to fold it perfectly. Done is better than perfect.
They’re establishing a good habit of putting away clothing when it’s clean. Be proud of them for getting it done!
Laundry is a great place to start with kids because the process of doing it is all baby steps (literally!). As soon as your child can physically do the next step, have them learn it!
Kids can even help you declutter! Help your kids understand how much space they actually have for their stuff, and how to prioritize what is most important to keep in that space.
Decluttering should be a continual process, not a once-a-year major job that your family hates to do. A main principle of Clutter Bootcamp is if you have stuff coming into your house, you need to have stuff going out of your house. The same thing applies to our kids: If kids have stuff going into their bedrooms, they need stuff coming out of their bedrooms. Get them used to doing this as part of a routine household task by building decluttering into your routine household chores.
NOW is the time to get your kids involved. It’s never too late to teach them. It’s never too late to start building a family culture of “everyone helps.” See how much easier YOUR life gets when your family is on board with household chores.
And remember, you’re giving your kids a gift. Don’t ever doubt that. You’re empowering your kids with skills that will last a lifetime. Stay strong, the reward is so worth it!
If you’re looking for a supportive, non-judgmental community to help you get your family involved with decluttering, I’d love to have you join Clutter Bootcamp and the Prioritize Your Sanity Facebook group!
Want more tips like this? Subscribe to my YouTube channel for my weekly podcast, “It’s All Clutter.”