People often comment on how tidy my son’s bedroom is when they come to visit. In truth, his bedroom is often much tidier than mine but this hasn’t happened by accident.
As a single mum running a full time business, time is precious. My son understands that if he wants me to watch something with him in the evening, go out at the weekend and generally not be a super grumpy mum, he needs to pull his weight around the house.
I’ve talked before about getting kids involved in housework but it’s so much more than that. I believe every member of the family is important and everyone pulls their weight, yes including kids.
Even younger children can help
Even really young children can quickly learn to do a few small jobs like dust, wipe the dining table down after a meal, set the table, make their bed, tidy toys…
Give older children more responsibility
I’m a firm believer in giving children and teens responsibility. I feel it helps them feel that they are important and a valuable member of the family.
I believe at the very minimum older children should be responsible for keeping their own room tidy, keeping their own things tidy and helping with basic things like clearing away after meals, helping prepare for meal times, even making some meals, making drinks, emptying bins, taking care of pets.
If your child is money minded, give them money for specific jobs.
My son likes video games and they don’t come cheap. He also loves the cinema and there are often several films out he wants to watch at the same time. Our rule is I pay for 1 film per school holiday and he pays for himself any other time out of his own money.
Here’s what works in our family
My son’s 13 now but we’ve followed this idea for several years now. I don’t believe he should get paid for all house jobs he does. I think basic things like keeping his room tidy, helping to tidy up, wash up etc are just part of being a family.
However, I want to give him the opportunity to earn some extra money and at the same time help me out.
Sunday is my day for planning.
I plan my business week, meals for the week, order my shopping…
It’s also the day I write down extra jobs that I want doing during the week. I do also add to this list if I want to throughout the week.
This is an idea of my list.
Tips for actually getting your kids to do extra jobs
- Keep each job specific.
- Add a mix of jobs that will only take a few minutes like tidying the drawers in the kitchen. Each drawer gets a reward, along with jobs that will take longer, like washing the car
- Give the list and let your child decide. They don’t get an option with the basic helping jobs, but they do with these.
- If they do the job reward it. If it’s done really well reward more than if it’s just okay. Reward the effort put in.
- If they don’t do any of the extra jobs they don’t get money. So when they ask for something that costs money they don’t get it.
My list goes up on a Sunday and my son has all week to do the jobs. Some jobs have a specific day they must be done by. For example, I may say the car needs cleaning by Wednesday. If my son hasn’t done it by Wednesday, I do it and he loses the opportunity to earn money.
Some jobs will get carried over to the next week if I think that’s okay.
Reward as they do the jobs.
Younger children especially like instant rewards. So rather than waiting until the end of the week, reward as you go or do what I do and every couple of days or so I’ll check which jobs have been done. My son will have already crossed the jobs he’s done off the list, so I’ll just put a smile next to that job to show it’s been paid. I’ll then put the money earned in his jar.
I used to give my son an amount for each job and this worked well in the early days, now he knows that the better he does the job the more I’ll reward him and I’ll be fair.
A few more tips to encourage children to help
- Always pay up
- Kids and teens love to see their money grow. Using a jar makes it easily accessible and they can see it building up
- Reward with praise too, this is equally important
- No nagging. Just stick to your guns and no money if they don’t do the jobs but leave the nagging out
- Make sure you’re adding some easy jobs as well as bigger jobs
- Accept that some weeks your child will do more than others. At the end of the day, it all helps
I’ve even paid my son to tidy my bedroom. In our house I often think it’s me who’s never grown out of being an untidy teenager. I trash my bedroom and hate tidying up. So more than once I’ve actually paid my son the clean and tidy my bedroom. I felt like I had my own personal cleaner. He gets a fairly decent payout and we’re both happy.
He always has the option to say no remember. I do this with the bathroom and other areas of the house too.
My final tip is Don’t Assume Your Kids Won’t Do it!
I’d love to hear what you think to my ideas. Let me know if you’ve found a way to get your kids to do jobs around the house.
This blog post is part of a series. To read the rest of my time-management tips, go to Time-Management
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