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From early childhood, learning how to develop a work ethic is an important life skill. When I was growing up, my parents were worker bees, and chores were introduced when I was about four. Some of my chores included clearing the table after dinner, cleaning up my toys, and distributing toilet paper to each bathroom.
When I was eight I had endless energy, which all came crashing down as soon as my mom said “Please, take out the trash” or, “Can you empty the dishwasher?” As I rolled my eyes it felt like what she asked me to do was the end of the world. Though these small tasks, when incorporated into my daily life, allowed me to become more responsible and to my surprise, aware that having order in the house made me feel better.
Teaching children to do chores helps them become more independent, and can give them an understanding of how much work and energy it takes to run a household. Enforcing basic daily tasks, such as making their beds, cleaning up after oneself, and cleaning their bedroom can help to teach organization skills, time management, and self-reliance. Some kids need structure in their day, and by giving them a regular chore routine can help them feel more secure.
Other chores can be introduced as needed, or weekly and represented as a way of gaining respect for others and themselves. Some examples are caring for younger siblings, making sure the dog gets walked, the fish tank is cleaned, or helping a busy parent prepare dinner.
These are not needed all the time but helps keep the house in tip-top shape while teaching familial responsibilities. This helps build a sense of teamwork and allows more space for your child to feel more involved in the family household as a contributing member.
Chores, while building responsibility, also help with time management and work ethic. Say your tween wants to go to the park with their friends but they have to do their chores first. If they knew about the chores ahead of time they could manage out their time to complete these tasks before they leave. Completing chores in a timely manner and to the expectations of parents builds work ethic which comes in good use down the road. Jobs like babysitting, pet sitting, or helping to prepare for house guests, allow them to learn skills that they will need for a lifetime. When taking on responsibilities for younger children, for example, it helps them with planning, organizational, and problem-solving skills.
Parents questioned what is familial responsibilities and which should be paid chores. How do I keep them motivated? What if they argue about the type of and amount of chores? How do I know if there is a good balance of chores and free time? How do I know what tasks are good for them? These can be nagging questions that affect expectations between parent and child. Perhaps, a parent’s expectations can be discussed between parent and child which allows for a better understanding of the chores to be done and when the chore is sufficiently completed, create trust on both sides.
This is what my husband and I decided to do: We did not pay our kids for their daily tasks and responsibilities like feeding the dog, cleaning their room, or clearing the table. But, we did create a chart of extra tasks they could complete for money, like mowing the lawn or vacuuming the house or helping clean out the refrigerator. We would also assign some tasks per week like taking out the garbage or sweeping up the dog hair from the hardwood floors. As they grew older, I assigned things like helping clean out the garage or vacuuming out the cars. As they started getting their own part-time jobs, their chore responsibilities decreased at home due to time constraints. I was okay with that. That was one of our goals as parents to make sure they were mature, responsible, and caring young adults who can take on a task or tasks and could complete it in a timely manner with the expectation that it was done correctly.
There needs to be a good balance of responsibilities and free time and to give them enough time to do both. Teaching them early helps prepare them for the work and accountability that are needed when their boss is no longer a parent.
Preparations don't have to be time-consuming and dull, it can be fun and energizing- make chores into a game or a “give and take” challenge. It worked wonders.
Ultimately, as parents, we should strive to prepare them for the responsibilities of the “real world” but let them be children too. These chores are meant to benefit your child’s future by teaching them respect, teamwork, time management, work ethic, and more! Chores can be a great tool in a parent’s toolbox if they know how to use them.