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I'm sick of being a slave & skivvy - how do you START to get the kids doing more chores?

(12 Posts)
Legacy Thu 04-Jun-09 11:11:08

DH & I are mugs. We've been running around after the kids for too long (now 9 & 6).
They hardly help at all, and when they do it's because I remind/nag/cagoule them...

DH has started getting angry at them 'swanning' around. Meanwhile I think it's really our fault for not putting proper systems/expectations in place.

So at the moment all they do is:

- get own drinks/snacks
- get own breakfast at weekends
- bring dirty laundry etc down each day (if reminded)

I think they should be doing ALL of the following as a minimum:

- packing their own school bags/ filling water bottle/ packing up musical instruments/gym kit etc
- tidying rooms
- putting clean laundry away
- loading dishwasher
- water plants outside
and more (what??)

I want to have a 'fresh start' as it were, and tell them what's expected, have some system of rewards/punishments and then stick to it.

But I have no idea really how to start.

Did you ever get to a point like this and instigate an overnight change?

LouLovesAeroplaneJelly Thu 04-Jun-09 11:30:53

I am a nanny for 4 kids and when I started they did nothing. I started a jobs chart. They got a sticker for each day if they did all thier chores. At the end of each fortnight the person who had the most stickers got a prize such as a pencil, sitting in the front seat of the car etc..

The kids are 6, 9, 13, 15

They all make thier own beds, get breakfast, stack and unload the dishwasher, tidy their rooms, strip and make their beds, empty bins, put bins outside, put clean clothes away, help make dinner, vacuum thier rooms etc

I just laid down the law. Said that things were going to change and if they did not like it too bad. They are old enough to take eresponsibility in the house. If they do not they will lose privilidges etc

Overmydeadbody Thu 04-Jun-09 11:42:06

I was going to say "start as you mean to go on"

But, it's better late than never, I think you can retrain your kids to pull their weight more. You are right, there is no point getting cross with them for swanning around if you haven't trained thm otherwise.

I tihnk your list of chores sounds fine, but I would also just have them help out more generally so they don't get into the habit of thinking that they only have to do 'their' chores and not help out with anything else.

DS is only 6, he does a lot of stuff around the house without having set jobs, but I would check things like his swimming kit etc after he's packed it himself to make sure he hasn't forgotten anything.

Get them to take their own plates to the sink after eating, help lay and clear the table, hoovering, dusting, loading washing, hanging wet washing on dryer, folding and putting away etc.

I would start slowly, just asking them to do stuff that is theirt at the time, rather than presenting them with a long list in the morning that they have to follow.

I don't think it needs any rewards or punishments, you just say "DS can you load the dishwasher now?" and he has to do it. Tere is no other option, BUT don't reward this behaviour.

Pulling their weight around the house doesn't require any sort of reward imo.

Overmydeadbody Thu 04-Jun-09 11:47:44

IMO if you want kids to help out and pull their weight you need to be prepared to give instructions, every day, until it becomes habit.

No point saying "right from now on you hasve to make your own beds" and then not remind then each and every morning. They will forget, they will ne distracted, and they will put it off.

Also, no point expecting them to suddenly be able to do something unless you have tought them how to do it. No point saying "make your beds" unless you also show them how to make their beds, one at a time, and then help them the first few times if they need help.

If you like certain things done a certain way, teach them that so they know (like where things go in the dishwasher etc.)

MrsMattie Thu 04-Jun-09 11:52:59

I agree with OverYourDeadBody.

My DS (only 4, so still early days!) does various chores, but he won't remember off his own back and has to be reminded and given very clear and simple instructions every day, and shown how to do things if necessary.

Eventually some things have become habit (taking his dinner plate to the sink, putting his dirty clothes in the laundry basket, hanging up his bath towel), but other things I always have to remind him to do.

Overmydeadbody Thu 04-Jun-09 11:53:00

Legacy het in the habit of asking your kids to do things (without saying "can you do suchandsuch for me" or "to help me") even if you could do it yourself. So when oyu are about to do something, aks yourself if one of the DSs could do it instead, and get them to do it. But they shouldn't feel like they are 'helping you' or doing you a favour, they aren't, they are pulling their weight and doing their fair share.

That's why you shouldn't reward it.

PMSLBrokeMN Thu 04-Jun-09 12:12:41

DD (now 11) was really bad about putting clothes in the wash bin. So now she washes her own, and if something's not clean, she can't wear it. Or if it's uniform, I guess she has to wear the dirty one. It hasn't taken too long (ok 18 months or so) for her to realise it's easy to put a load of washing on before bed, and that it won't kill her to do so.

I do find that as they get older (youngest is 7) they start volunteering to help, and so far I've never said no! So we don't have a list of chores as such, they just help out where they can - for example DS helped DH the other day by strimming the lawn edges, he's really good with manual things! Or he might help me by peeling & chopping veg. It just depends what needs doing. I'd much rather they got to like 'chores', I know there are some things everyone hates but the way we do it seems to make them less of a battleground!

Legacy Thu 04-Jun-09 12:16:18

Thanks - this is exactly the sort of help I needed!

DH seems to think if he 'tells' them one day to do something then they will then do it the next day - it doesn't work for me with him hmm, so why should it for the kids?

I'm really worried about creating some over-complicated 'rewards' system which falls apart because we're too busy to fill it in. Also I agree with the fact that they shouldn't be 'rewarded' for just doing general 'family' chores - I don't get rewarded!

Lou - I just can't imagine older children being motivated by a sticker system? DS1 (9) already doesn't seem to care if I threaten to dock his pocket money....

Should I be 'witholding' treats until chores are done i.e. 'once you've stacked the dishwasher then you can watch some TV..'

I think part of the problem up until now is that the kids doing stuff has ended up causing more trouble/mess for me in the end e.g.

- DS2 loads dishwasher and gets tomato sauce all over white T-shirt
- DS1 makes school snacks and water bottles leak all over bags/ books
- DS2 puts laundry away in heap in drawers and it all ends up creased

I need to lower my standards, invest time in training, and be more patient don't I? blush

LouLovesAeroplaneJelly Thu 04-Jun-09 12:32:05

Oh it was more of a competitition to see if they could beat each other. The prizes were just tokens really. I did have to remind them a lot too. Repetition repitition repitition....
I give them all three warnings/reminders. If it is not done then they lose something eg tv time, the computer

girlywhirly Thu 04-Jun-09 14:10:36

Legacy, at least DS2's laundry made it to the drawers instead of being dumped on the floor, trodden on etc. You can show him how to put it in nicely, or put up with him looking rumpled!

My friend has been trying to sort out her family by not nagging, but letting them see the natural consequences of their actions. The 10yo boy hadn't done his homework last night to be handed in this morning, because he spent too long on the computer playing games. She pointed out either he got up early to do it before school, or didn't do it and suffer the consequences at school. He got up early to do it. No laundry brought down=no clean uniform/p.e.kit/best top to wear to a party etc. No clean dishes=no tea until washed.

I think witholding T.V. and computer time until tasks are completed is entirely reasonable.

Could they help clean the car? Only fair if they get driven about in it. Seasonal jobs like raking up leaves in Autumn. I remember when I was 9, my uncle showed me how to mow his lawn using a manual 'push' mower, I thought I was really grown up! It was great to be trusted to do something like that. (Of course don't let them use electric or petrol mowers!) Children who are given more responsibility for themselves are more capable and independent, better able to organise themselves, and usually more appreciative of what is done for them. But it should get so that you only need to ask once or twice at most to get a response without constant nagging. Most kids zone out and stop listening if the nagging is ongoing.

You won't change things overnight, but start with a couple of things and add new jobs at suitable intervals. Check up on things like leaky bottles, and whether they have what they need for school. Getting messy when loading dishwasher; kids need to make mistakes in order to learn from them i.e. be more careful next time! Practice really does make perfect.

slightlyonedgemum Thu 04-Jun-09 14:22:26

When DH and I got married and I became a Mum to DS, he was 7 and had been brought up in a house where Nanny did everything whilst he was at school and he dumped things everywhere.

I started with telling him to put his coat, bag and shoes away after school then have worked up. He likes helping (he's an only child so in some ways it's less boring, plus he's not a tv/computer type of child) as it makes him feel more grown up. He gets praised when he does well.

He now often helps when I haven't asked, helps lay the table, get drinks etc and takes things back to the kitchen. We do still sometimes have to remind him but it's not as bad as at the beginning when he told me he had a horrible life as he had to hang his coat up.

So, my main advice is, stick with it, it does get better!!

Overmydeadbody Thu 04-Jun-09 14:58:51

Yes withhold tv etc until the job is done.

You do need to lower your standards, be very patient and dedicate lots of time to training them in the begining though grin

Things that we do naturally when doing chores they need to learn (just like we did), like checking mugs are empty before tipping them into the dishwasher etc. so it really helps if you are there at first supervising and mentioning the possible pitfalls and how to avoid them (rather than getting cross when they get it wrong etc.)

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