How to make dcs responsible for more without making it feel like a bad thing for them?

(74 Posts)
YoureBeingASillyBilly Mon 30-Dec-13 16:46:46

Its long overdue and i hold my hands up and know i am entiry to blame for not dojng it all from the start but i decided that with the new year, as part of an entire life overhaul for me, this is one issue i want to finally deal with. This thread has been prompted by ds(8) whining that he is unable to put cereal and milk in a bowl for himself hmm (he can, he does it without thinking if he gets up before me).

So these are the things i would like my dcs to do. They are 8 and 4.

Make own beds, open curtains and window
Fold pjs an put under pillow
Bring dirty laundry down to wash basket
Get own breakfast things out in morning
Make 1 evening meal each per week (with 100% supervison from me and assistance where necessary)
Be involved in the weekly meal plan without everything having to be sausage and chips!
Put washing in machine and load powder/softener and turn on
Put clean laundry away
Check uniforms for dirty marks needing spotwashed
Spotwash dirty marks
Wash dishes after evening meals
Dust and hoover rooms once a week
Other random chores like emptying bins, changing loo roll holders, topping up dogs water as and when required.

It looks a lot but i dont think any of it is beyond their capabilities. Is it? Happy to be told i'm dreaming here grin

If all that is ok, how do i get them doing these things without them whingeing about it or feeling like theyre having to do something thats not their responsibility. If that makes sense?

lostdomain Wed 01-Jan-14 19:16:27

This thread is enlightening. Such young children being so capable. My two are three times the age of some of the children on here and don't do a quarter of what they do.

Time for some New Year's Resolutions.

dizzyday07 Wed 01-Jan-14 19:55:37

Never mind teenagers - my DH doesn't do most of this list!

YoureBeingASillyBilly Wed 01-Jan-14 20:05:33

Which is so depressing dizzy and why i'm starting young with my dcs so they learn that homecare is the whole family's responsibility an not just the one who gave birth!

nooka Wed 01-Jan-14 20:32:37

Well that's another issue entirely though isn't it? My dh has always done at least as much and often more than me, but I was expected to pull my weight at home, taught how to cook, iron, clean etc (although we did have a cleaner so I wasn't exactly put upon) whereas dh was pretty much left to his own devices. I'm not sure it's always that direct a relationship.

For me it's pretty straightforward, we want to share the load across the four of us rather than just dh and me, we want our children to appreciate the work that goes into running a home, and we want them to be competent and independent. I didn't worry about most of that when they were very small, they didn't get any formal chores until pretty much last year and it's not really been a problem getting them in gear now. They do think that having to do drudge work is a bad thing. So do I!

YoureBeingASillyBilly Wed 01-Jan-14 20:44:19

I think your dcs personality plays a big factor aswel though. I could wait til my dcs are 15 to get them pulling their weights but knowing ds1 as i do- he's even more bull headed now at 8 than i was at 15 and i remembe how 'put upon' i felt then when mum asked me to empty the dishwasher because it "wasnt my job" whereas if i'd been doing it all along it wouldnt have been a source of battle with an already stroppy teen. I'd rather battle it out with mine now and get these habits settled in than take him on at 15 when he could basically trample over me if he felt like it.

I think the list in the OP is a bit much to suddenly expect your DC to suddenly start doing. As others have said you have to start gradually.

I have 3 DC and expect them to work as part of the team (I know that sounds corny) that keeps the house running smoothly. DS1 loves helping and so he is a breeze. DS2 is less enthusiastic, but can be bribed encouraged. DD tends to follow DS1 as she wants to be a "big kid".

I expect them to:

DS1(11)
Keep his room tidy
Make his bed and open his curtains
Put his clean washing away
Put his dirty washing in the wash basket
Put a wash on (including measuring detergent and choosing cycle) when asked
Put the tumble dryer on and empty it and fold washing if asked
Wash up
Help with food preparation
Help to put the grocery shopping away
Empty bins (including kitchen bin) if asked
Tidy up anything he uses or plays with
Run the hoover around the living room if asked
Check calendar and pack school bag appropriately for that day's activities
Hang coat up and put shoes away when coming in from outside.

DS2(9)
Keep his room tidy
Make his bed and open his curtains
Put his clean washing away
Put his dirty washing in the wash basket
Empty tumble dryer and fold washing if asked
Help with food preparation
Set table and clear away dishes at the end of mealtimes
Empty waste paper bins if asked
Tidy up anything he uses or plays with
Run the hoover around the living room if asked
Check calendar and pack school bag appropriately for that day's activities
Hang coat up and put shoes away when coming in from outside.

DD(7)
Keep her room tidy
Make her bed and open her curtains
Put her clean washing away
Put her dirty washing in the wash basket
Pair up socks when they come out of the tumble dryer
Help with food preparation
Tidy up anything she uses or plays with
Check calendar and pack school bag appropriately for that day's activities
Hang coat up and put shoes away when coming in from outside

Written down they look like quite long lists, but they have evolved over time. Some days are better than others, sometimes I feel like I'm nagging and other days it all runs quite smoothly. They are going up to be quite independent though, they can all make themselves breakfast or a sandwich etc and the eldest can cook a meal by himself now.

I agree with starting them young, but you do need to do it gradually.

YoureBeingASillyBilly Wed 01-Jan-14 21:28:17

I agree jemima so im just starting with the morning stuff and little things like laying the table or feeding the dog.

Sorry, I missed the post that said you were starting with the morning stuff as I scrolled through (on my phone).

WantAnOrange Thu 02-Jan-14 07:01:42

I don't think the list is an unreasonable aim at all. I find it a little sad how children are viewed as so incapable in our society. HOWEVER, I wouldn't introduce everything at once, maybe one new habit a week?

I would expect 8 year to have the same list as 4 year old but the 4 year old to need more support, whereas the 8 year old could do more independently. Don't let your 8 yo convince you he doesn't understand this! He may not like it, but he can understand it, and well, that's life isn't it?!

The only thing on the list I wouldn't have as a responsibility is cooking. DS (7) adores cooking and this is a fun activity we do on Saturday afternoons, rather than something he has to be responsible for. We got him Jamie's 15 minute meals book for his birthday (takes an hour for DS mind you!)

My mum did everything for us around the house. I am grateful for how much she did but I would have appreciated it more in the long run if I had learned these skills before I had a child of my own and got my own home. It's a lot to learn all at once and it's the hard way to do things. It is also the only cause of arguments between DH and I. I don't want that for my children.

BobCrotchstitch Thu 02-Jan-14 07:39:11

DS is 9 and has a friend who does nothing, literally nothing round the house. He is really hard work when he comes round as he just expects food to automatically appear, along with cutlery, drinks, sauces etc. He doesn't even carry his own bags which makes me gnash my teeth when I see it
In comparison DS is expected to:
Put washing in basket
Put clean laundry away
Empty lunchbox and water bottle
Lay table for dinner and clear plates to the kitchen after.
Check planner and make sure bags and kits are ready for the following day
Clean shoes on a Sunday
Sort recycling and put outside fortnightly. DH often helps him put the box out but he brings it back in after.
Then random as and when jobs like hoovering his room, putting shopping away, filling the dogs water etc.
His pocket money is dependent on these jobs but generally he is quite amenable as he has been expected to chip in since he was very young so it's just second nature to him now smile

3bunnies Thu 02-Jan-14 07:59:32

I would like to be able to make jobs linked to pocket money they currently don't have any but dh thinks they should just do the jobs anyway because they are part of the family. Interestingly in his family his mother did absolutely everything until she died quite young. My mother did most things. I think he still would rather I did everything but we're gradually finding compromises.

I do use bribery when it comes to tidying up which everyone hates - if they help tidy then they can have friends around to play.

BobCrotchstitch Thu 02-Jan-14 08:10:53

3bunnies we tend to pay full pocket money for a good all round attitude over the week rather than an amount per job IYSWIM?
DS also gets 30 minutes on his iPad on week nights once everything has been done properly. TBH the iPad time is more precious to him at the moment rather than the pocket money but I'm really not bothered either way. It's a reward for being organised, playing his part and having a good attitude <blanks out early memories of swearing I would never use blackmail>

RRudolphR Thu 02-Jan-14 08:18:47

Introduce one thing at a time and devote the time to show them how to do it properly.
Perhaps they could each have one thing for this week?

Next week swap the jobs over and get them to show each other how to do it.

Different jobs the week after etc etc.

Procrastreation Thu 02-Jan-14 08:30:16

I don't understand why you've been critisised. My older kids are a 9 yo, a (just) 7 yo and a 5 yo. We live in a shit-tip - but they do do chores. (in fact - the two statements are related - since ime part of getting kids started on chores is not getting hung up on everything being done to adult standards).

Fold pjs an put under pillow no - but they are able to each locate their own at bed time

Bring dirty laundry down to wash basket * they can and do all do it - but do need prompting)*

Get own breakfast things out in morning Yes. They have a low accessible cupboard with unbreakable bowls & cereal. 5 yo has lots of splats - think filling bowl to the top with cereal - then sloshing a tsunami of milk. When that happens, he is directed to where the cloths are kept - but otherwise it's not treated dramatically

Make 1 evening meal each per week (with 100% supervison from me and assistance where necessary) mine don't do it every week - but I support you in this. I contrast to posters upthread - my 5 yo has been the chef of the gang for a long time. His star dish is a whole 'poached' salmon. Recipe: go to shop & pick shiniest whole fish. Mum puts it in dish & provides saucer with portioned out seasonings (eg salt, parsley, lemon slices, bay leaves, pepper). DS2 applies seasoning to fish. DS2 then wraps the dish losely in foil. At serving time (this is a go-to party dish) - DS2 trots around promoting his fish dish & is generally very proud. DD1 - the eldest - is squeamish - but I've been teaching her the operation of kitchen appliances by letting her fix tinned soups, chips, nuggets etc. In fact - I refuse to actually cook any of the above - since I don't like them. Hence - when that is on the menu - it is totally up to DD to fix it - and I make sure the boys direct their junk-food gratitiude vocally to DD1. DS1 (age 7) is my slow cooker king. He can read a recipe, load a cold crock pot (he doesn't have the upper body strength for a can opener - but I do let him rough slice veggies) and then turn it on.

Be involved in the weekly meal plan without everything having to be sausage and chips! I totally do this! In fact I think this is very important to negotiating the line between 'you're part of this family' and 'eat what you're given'. My 7 yo is the expert at this. He surveys the rest of the family for dishes they'd like, consults kids cook books, and takes into account constraints I set like 'only one junk food day a week'. It's kids meal plan week only once every couple of months - but they take pride in it,

Put washing in machine and load powder/softener and turn on no to powder. IMO chemicals is really not a great idea, because you can't be relaxed about them being a bit random. But everyone can load the machine as part of a weekend clean . It is actually the speciality of my 2 yo - with whom it turns into a long process of 'daddy's green sock; DS1s Tshirt...'

Put clean laundry away
* Clean laundry is sorted into personal trugs immediately as it comes out of the machine. When the trug is full, it's owner is asked to empty it into drawers & return the trug. They all do it - though obv the 5 yo has been known to shove the lot under his bed & hope for the best! *

Check uniforms for dirty marks needing spotwashed
Spotwash dirty marks
no chance! they just don't see the marks! And unless you're happy for them to go to school looking like Oliver Twist, you'll end up stressing & re-doing their work - which will make for a bad atmosphere

Wash dishes after evening meals
* a lot of these things fall in the camp of 'persevere for good habits, even though in the short term it's more work for the kids to 'help''. Washing up by an 8 year old would be << but with bells on! They'd be happy enough to do it - but the quality would never be that great, then you'd need to surepticiously re-wash, then a glass would smash in the bowl.... Really not worth the hassle IMO. However - the bigs load their own plates into the dishwasher wonky *

Dust and hoover rooms once a week
* Dusting has been DS2s speciality since he was three. I put damp socks on his hands & tell him to wipe everything that is hard & not electric. DS1 loves to hover. I also ask them to mop & sweep kitchen when we have big weekend cleaning blitzes*

jellyandcake Thu 02-Jan-14 08:37:28

Wrt early responsibility leading to more capable and responsible adults - my parents assigned us similar chores and all I learned was to bitterly despise and resent housework, do a grudging and crappy job of it and gleefully live like a pig for years after leaving home. I still hate all housework with a ferocious passion but am forcing myself to learn now that I have my own home and children. I can't remember any particular skills I learned doing this stuff as a child, I think I deliberately didn't let it sink in!

Also linking it to financial reward didn't work once I was old enough for a Saturday job and I just did that instead.

I definitely would introduce tasks gradually and I think the laundry based ones are a bit much for their ages at the moment.

Procrastreation Thu 02-Jan-14 08:38:11

A lot of the above is done via the FLYLady home blessing hour system. This is basically 6 jobs in 60 minutes. I have a list of what needs doing - and they each pick a job & work at it for 10 mins, then come back for a new job.

This system works for us because:
- the DC can 'specialise' & always choose their individual favourite jobs
- it doesn't require ongoing nagging. IME expecting kids to remember much more tha on brushing their own teeth is a bust.
- you can get a nice atmosphere going eg with music and high energy OTT cheerleading of their achievements. We also tend to round off with a family treat, like ice cream sundaes.
- I treat the time as 'teach DC to housework. I give my undivided attention to flitting between them supporting & firefighting. This works better than expecting them to 'just do it' and then being disappointed in the result
- by the end of the hour, the house is appreciably nicer, so they get job satisfaction & pride in their work.

WhoKnowsWhereTheMistletoes Thu 02-Jan-14 08:48:03

I keep money out of it too, otherwise I suspect they might call my bluff and say they just don't want the money sometimes. They can earn a bit more than their regular money by doing extras though.

Mine are scrupulous about fairness, trying to get them to pick jobs off a list or do different things tends to lead to arguments, so we have to say you hoover one room you hoover the other etc. Mine are pretty close capability wise, despite 2 year age gap (9 and 7).

YoureBeingASillyBilly Thu 02-Jan-14 12:09:51

Thank you all for comments, i am nodding in agreement with lots of it- have to head out now but will post a proper response later of what ive decided on. Thanks all.

I keep money out of it as I want them to understand that they do chores as they are part of the team that keeps the house running smoothly.

Mind you, if someone would like to give me pocket money for doing chores I'd be very grateful! wink

Stillcomingtoterms Fri 03-Jan-14 01:24:19

My dd9 and ds7 do various things, mainly because I don't want two incapable teenagers.
I originally started off with a tick list and for each job they did they got 20p. Ds had easier tasks than dd or tasks I knew one of them liked. However after a few weeks dd decided it wasn't worth the money and ds was Bribing me into paying for every task. Ie he would offer to help me weed the garden and then say 'that's £2 please' which frankly is over inflated and also he hadn't learnt to negotiate before the jobsmile
However what doing this showed was that both are capable of more than I originally thought.

Most of what now gets done is normally me asking ie can someone lay the table, pick up shoes etc.
Without asking They both feed the cat when they notice her bowl is empty,they make they're own cereal every morning, get their own uniforms out and dressed and get their own school stuff ready. They can both also make their own sandwiches and packed lunches if I'm busy doing something else.
Dd has also recently learnt how to make a cup of tea and make herself some beans on toast. I've noticed if we have friends kids round they get horrified when I ask them to clear away the toys so I think maybe I get mine to do more than others.

As for your list

From your list mine do
Make own beds, open curtains and window - yes but generally only if their on best behaviour for something
Fold pjs an put under pillow - not something I can be bothered to get them to do
Bring dirty laundry down to wash basket - they did this but I had to stop them as dd was putting things she had only just put on in there and my washing grew.
Get own breakfast things out in morning - started when I felt they could manage the milk, dd at 6 and she made ds until he was 6
Make 1 evening meal each per week (with 100% supervison from me and assistance where necessary) - no I do the cooking and if one of thems bored I'll get them to help out
Be involved in the weekly meal plan without everything having to be sausage and chips! - We food shop together
Put washing in machine and load powder/softener and turn on - they both can do and will occasionally but it's more faffing than it's worth at the moment.
Put clean laundry away - will put draw stuff away
Check uniforms for dirty marks needing spotwashed - impossible, they never see any dirt
Wash dishes after evening meals - no, they put things in the dishwasher but hand washing made too much of a mess
Dust and hoover rooms once a week - ds can now he's 7 up until then the Hoover was too big. They do need to be told when to do this though as again they always think they're rooms are clean!

Mellowandfruitful Fri 03-Jan-14 01:33:34

Really interesting stuff here. The Flylady approach for kids is very good - not that I have properly implemented it... I think for me I wouldn't have the 4 yo interacting with machinery, so the 8 yo could be expected to put a wash on but I would only expect the 4yo to bring down dirty washing and put clean away. Plus also consider height - this got mentioned with the bins but depending on how tall your 4 yo is, and how accessible all your surfaces are, some of this just might not be possible.

Fantail Sun 05-Jan-14 09:41:53

DDis 2.9. She can (with assistance/prompting) - put dirty washing in laundry, put clean clothes away, help unload dishwasher, help set table, help dust and clean windows, help tidy her toys.

Turning on the washing machine is a huge reward for her. grin

We cook and bake a lot. Her achievement over the Christmas holidays is that she can with my help make a peanut butter sandwich.

Timetoask Sun 05-Jan-14 09:51:53

I am thinking of teaching my 9year old (with special needs) and almost 7 (nt) how to clean toilets. They still make a huge mess!
Is it too ambitious? Will obviously explain that they need to wash their hands extra well!

My almost 9 year old with special needs loves helping around the house it's the nt one that is more of a struggle (he prefers to play)

Mikkii Sun 05-Jan-14 10:26:11

We have DS (9), DD1 (6) and DD2 (3).

They are all expected to put dirty washing in the basket, but not if clean enough to wear again. DD2 has also been trained (by DH) to come into our room, collect his laundry and put it into the basket.

The older 2 have to make their beds, lay the table at weekends. All take plates to kitchen after meals (although with DD2 it is dependent on how much is left on plate and how messy spills might be!)

DS will make tea/coffee, hot chocolate for youngest also he can scramble eggs. Older 2 can make toast or a sandwich, get cereal ready (although kept in a high cupboard so DD tends not to).

DS will feed dogs, he can't empty bin as the bag is too heavy for him (he's quite petite). All expected to hang coats (DD 3 is expected to pass her coat to DS or mummy for hanging) and put shoes in their room.

DS likes to cook and helps regularly.

All expected to tidy playroom. They are currently banned from playroom as they didn't tidy it up. As a result they are not getting to watch much of their tv as I have got used to not watching kids tv all the time.

DS is currently working off a debt. He wanted a new club penguin membership but he asked for it after Christmas. He is earning about 50p a day, sometimes a £1 for extra chores, above what I would normally ask for. Such as making my coffee this morning using the Dolce Gusto machine.

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