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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?

noblegiraffe Mon 30-Dec-13 18:27:48

I'd go for 'now you are big enough you will be allowed to help with the cooking/laundry/bin emptying. DS is too young/small/incompetent to be trusted with heat/electronics/heavy stuff' ?

addictedtosugar Mon 30-Dec-13 18:37:03

Noble do you have a massive qualification is child psychology? Thats ingenious.

BertieBowtiesAreCool Mon 30-Dec-13 18:51:01

See I would disagree Bonsoir. I think that cooking a meal for the family can be introduced as a very fun and responsible activity, there is a sense of pride when people eat something you've cooked etc.

Although I think once a week is too much, especially for a 4 year old. Once a week is teenager territory really, introduced from about 10/12yo. Starts off very supervised and then letting them have more control. Maybe once a month the 8yo could help out or something like that and the 4yo just as and when, if he's in an amenable mood kind of thing.

3bunnies Mon 30-Dec-13 18:52:37

You don't necessarily need to introduce things at the same age - when ds1 is 10 he probably won't remember that he was 8 not 6 when he started doing things. We made a bigger deal about being 4 because younger than that we didn't want them making a mess. It also works if you just say that they can do it when they are older without specifying an age, for example I think that dd2 will probably be able to bake alone earlier than dd1 - more due to me being more comfortable than her being more able.

nooka Mon 30-Dec-13 19:08:48

I'd really caution against a big bang approach because it's highly likely that it won't happen. Better to introduce a few tasks and follow through. Also they don't need to be the same tasks for each child, the 'fairness' comes from both having something on the list, not so much what the task actually is. I have a 13 and a 14 year old, and they are totally responsible for their own laundry and for the state of their bedrooms and they are expected to help with house cleaning and cooking (which they do with varying degree of complaint, but it gets done and done well). Most of this has been in the last couple of years - you don't have to start very young in order to turn out competent teens!

So think about tasks they can perform well where you won't have to be on top of them all the time, and where the consequences of not doing them affects the child rather than you, or where they will feel feel pride in their accomplishments.

I'd also avoid trying to sell the new regime as being some sort of good thing for them. I think most children see through that sort of scam fairly quickly (maybe I just have cynics!)

3bunnies Mon 30-Dec-13 19:20:50

I also tell them scare stories about people starting uni who couldn't even cook baked beans and tell them that if they can cook other students (and boyfriends/girlfriends) will want to be invited. I also tell them about the time I was hospitalised due to food in halls. They are all desperate to be able to cook their favourite meals for future flatmates.

YoureBeingASillyBilly Mon 30-Dec-13 20:11:23

Thank you all- was dealing with dinner/bedtime.

I think i'll start with just the morning stuff for now and see how we get on with that.

YoureBeingASillyBilly Mon 30-Dec-13 20:15:57

Also 3bunnies

"If they can cook other students" shock grin

I thought you were about to share the recipes for cooling students!

3bunnies Mon 30-Dec-13 20:26:37

Well by the time my lot get there student finances might be such that cannibalism is the only way to afford meat as a student smile

YoureBeingASillyBilly Mon 30-Dec-13 20:31:27


lostdomain Mon 30-Dec-13 20:34:42

OP, it depends on your DC but I find that giving them a specific job, without any preamble works best. I just shove a hoover at them and say 'Please hoover your room' or 'please mop this floor' and they do it. I never suggest it's a chore, never criticise imperfect work and they are fine with it. It's not a routine but it gets them used to mucking in.

For stuff they should do regularly such as their own rooms, I broke down the jobs. Never said 'tidy your room' but 'put all your books away, then put all your laundry away' and so on until the room was clean and then made a big fuss about how lovely it looks now it's tidy.

Four is too young for most of what you are suggesting imho. But you can get them in the spirit by asking them to put 5 toys away or plump up cushions. Make it fun.

BobCrotchstitch Mon 30-Dec-13 20:41:08

I would give DS1 more pocket money based on his greater responsibility. This is clearly bribery but works well in our house smile

WhoKnowsWhereTheMistletoes Mon 30-Dec-13 20:50:12

I go for the line that there are 4 people in the house each has a quarter of the jobs to do but as you are still little will help you with yours till you are old enough to manage by yourself.

Mine are 9 and 7 and do the same as each other on the whole (7yo is more mature for age than 9yo so capable of similar).

Make beds (loosely enforced)
Put away clean laundry (with help if necessary)
Put dirty laundry in basket (struggle to get this done reliably)
Unload DW together (one does top rack, the other bottom, first to start chooses). Weekdays only at the moment.
Wash up lunchboxes and waterbottles (one washes, one dries, again first to start chooses)
Feed cats (DS in the morning, DD in the evening)
Put out clothes for next day (school days/early starts only)
Help with supermarket shopping, unloading (ad-hoc)
Help with cooking (DD loves to cook, DS not so keen but helps a bit)
Help doing laundry occasionally.

FairyTrain Mon 30-Dec-13 21:06:07

OP, we started getting the DCs (5 &3.5) to do more a month ago (coincided with chocolate advent calendars which were a real motivator ) taking baby steps and making them more responsible. They now clear away all the dishes etc from tea, make their beds in the morning, put PJs under pillows, open curtains, dress themselves completely (clothes laid out by me but if I forget they now get their own) self bath/ shower put dirty clothes in laundry/ clean clothes on spare bed for next day, dry themselves after bath, PJs on themselves, brush teeth then they can come downstairs and switch on cBeebies. It is amazing the difference in a month! Be consistent (it was all DHs idea as DC3 due soon and I couldn't be doing so much running around for them) they don't Hoover (but neither do I wink) but they enjoy dusting and tidy up their toys (with the odd threat of said toys being sent to boys and girls who do tidy up!) they help me feed & clean out the pets etc too. I don't think your being too ambitious, just take it slowly and consistently and before you know it, it will be automatic for them. Can't believe some posters suggested waiting til they are at senior school.... confused

Bonsoir Tue 31-Dec-13 07:54:25

I am truly sceptical of the wisdom of leaving very young DC to wash themselves and clean their own teeth. IME DC who are left to their own devices don't learn how to wash thoroughly and get very smelly and disgusting when puberty hits. And it is much harder to teach and enforce basic thorough washing skills at 10/11 than at 6/7...

FairyPenguin Tue 31-Dec-13 08:25:08

In our household the DC (6 and 4) do the following:

Get breakfast things out ready for me to pour (bowls, spoons, choose cereal, get milk out) - they spend an age deciding which cereal they want otherwise
Lay the table
Clear their plates off table and put next to sink
Help empty dishwasher (6yo)
Put their dirty washing into one pile so I can sort it out in one place
Pair clean socks up (4yo finds them and 6yo pairs them)
Put their clean washing away (underwear and pyjamas only for 4yo, stuff which can be wrinkled and it really doesn't matter)
Empty school/nursery bags, put lunchbox rubbish in bin, water bottles and lunch boxes next to sink
Sweep up any crumbs they have dropped after meals

All of these are usually done without too much fuss.

Bakerof3pudsxx Tue 31-Dec-13 08:29:37

My elder two are 4 and nearly 6

They -
Put all rubbish in the bin
Scrape any left over food into the bin
Put dishes in the sink
Put clothes in the washing machine
Empty and load the dryer when asked
Take responsibility for their room and toys
Put away clothes that live in drawers but not wardrobes
Empty their lunch boxes on school days

Bakerof3pudsxx Tue 31-Dec-13 08:29:59

I have just started getting them to get cutlery set up at meal times

FairyPenguin Tue 31-Dec-13 08:32:51

I meant to add: most of these things are related to their own belongings so they have an incentive to help, e.g. If they don't get breakfast stuff out, then won't get breakfast! If they don't clear their plates, nothing else will go down on the table for pudding as there won't be room. It helps that DS is a bit of a clean freak so if I say his clothes won't get clean if he leaves them on the floor, he rushes to put them in the washing pile.

If I am really struggling to get them to do stuff, then I give them an incentive, eg if they tidy the playroom within 20 mins then we can all sit down and play 2 games, each DC chooses one, because they will have cleared floor space to do it. They also know that tidying playroom is something that has to be done every evening so if they are slow then it's eating into bedtime story time and sometimes (rarely) there is no story as they've been so slow (with warning, of course).

Sometimes it backfires when they say they don't want to play anyway, but it works more often than not.

FairyPenguin Tue 31-Dec-13 08:39:21

I haven't asked them to do anything involving cooking or washing machine/dishwasher/dryer related as I'm too wary of them feeling overconfident with the appliances if I am not around. I don't know if this is being overprotective. I have only recently asked DD to help empty the dishwasher and this is with the proviso that I am always there and I do the sharp knives and the heavy stuff (pots and pans, baking trays).

WhoKnowsWhereTheMistletoes Tue 31-Dec-13 09:17:51

We oversee dishwasher emptying for the DCs, partly because of sharps, partly because a lot of stuff lives in high cupboards and we put it up once they have stacked it on the counters. They'll have to grow quite a bit before they can manage all of it.

Bonsoir Tue 31-Dec-13 10:02:44

Agree - I never want young DC near dishwashers. Far too many dangers.

HappyMummyOfOne Wed 01-Jan-14 14:04:39

Wow, thats a whole lot of chores for children. When do they get to be just children?

I will happily admit that all i expect DS to do is to clean his things away after use. He likes occasionally to help with cooking but does so by choice. He is a child and should enjoy his childhood, he has a whole life of household things once he is an adult so why not have fun whilst he can. He can do lots of things so wont go out into the world with no skills.

WhoKnowsWhereTheMistletoes Wed 01-Jan-14 14:20:30

That's what my parents did with me. We just had to do a couple of token chores on a Sunday night and mum did the rest while we were at school. So while I left home knowing how to dust, vacuum, iron, operate a washing machine etc, I had no idea how often any of it needed doing or of the extra jobs that make a house run smoothly. She didn't do me any favours really. That's why I want my DCs involved every day, and doing all sorts of jobs. None of it takes long if done frequently.

YoureBeingASillyBilly Wed 01-Jan-14 14:42:56

Happymum it looks like a lot written down but when you thjnk of how long it takes for each to be done its really very little time.

Making bed, window curtains for example, umm thats a ten second job (if even!)

Hoovering their rooms once a week= their rooms are small so 2 minutes max a week- thats really not a lot of their weekend taken up is it?

Bringing washing down and putting im basket= they'll be coming downstairs for breakfast anyway and the basket is in the way

Spotwashing their clothes= a few minutes each afternoon if necessary before snack and homework.

Its really not a lot of time. Plenty of time to be children

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