As a parent, I want nothing more than for my kids to be healthy, responsible, productive members of society. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that is true for you and most parents as well.

The trouble is it seems like it is getting harder and harder to raise respectful children. Let alone grateful children. Or heaven forbid helpful ones.

The Sad Truth

Most children we encounter nowadays are glued to a screen while their parents complain about their horrible attitudes. Moms fuss about how tired they are because they just cleaned the whole house (including their kid’s rooms) and did all the laundry. Where was Lil Timmy while mama was working herself into a conniption? Watching t.v or going poom  poom poom with his thumbs all day (I stole that line from my 9-year-old).

I REFUSE

The main reason my young children have chores is that I AM NOT A MAID. I may pride myself on being DOER of the Things but I refuse to do ALL the things while everyone in my house does no things.

I am a human being. I deserve respect and the occasional nap. God did not create me to clean up little boy pee forever. For a season maybe. But surely not forever. I don’t think we should let our children expect ‘mommy to clean it up’. One of my biggest pet peeves is when my children walk over trash on the floor because ‘they didn’t put it there’. Children are no less members of homes and families than parents are. They should be expected to behave as such (within reason folks).

How It Starts

Say what you want about it but my kids start cleaning when they start walking. NO EXCEPTIONS. I have a 17-month-old daughter right now who can wipe up a milk spill with the best of them. Mind you, if I don’t give her a napkin she’ll just rub the mess around with her hand. But the point is she already has the basic principle down. If I make a mess I am expected to clean it or at least help.

I start off walking them through chores as I hold their hands. At 18 months old I would hold my oldest son’s hand and sing the Barney clean up song as we cleaned his room together. It was painstaking. He would pick up one toy at a time with his free hand and I would cheer like a psychopath every time he dropped a toy in the right bin.

I have some OCD-ish tendencies so he learned sorting very early and til this very day they sort everything. Cars, blocks, action figures, etc. You get the gist. Eventually, I stopped holding his hand. I would just stand there singing that ridiculous song over and over again until he finished. Then one day I stopped singing. Finally, I stopped watching at all. I would say go pick up your toys and he would. By the time my 2nd son was born my oldest was 2 and a 1/2 and cleaning his room alone.

No Givesies Backsies

This is the method I use to teach them new chores even now. I show them how. I supervise. And then when I am confident that they are capable of doing it alone I leave them to it.

Once I hand a chore over I never take it back.  Occasionally, we will have to battle it out about a chore that they once did well and are now slacking on. But even then I will not take it back. I go back to the supervising stage. Somethings I give a once over occasionally. Every once in a while I scan their movie shelves to make sure they aren’t just throwing stuff anywhere (which they usually are). Every so often I dump all the toy boxes and have them properly sort things back into their specific bin (usually when I’m disinfecting them). When I can find a hazmat suit in my size I even deep clean their bathroom occasionally. But for the most part, I let them do it all themselves.

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This is the behavior chart I purchased. It is equally important that they do their chores with a good attitude as it is that they do them right. This is a good visual that helps them get themselves back on track. Click to purchase.

The Chore Wars

Do my kids fight about cleaning? Yes. Do they half clean stuff thinking I won’t notice? Yes. Does their bathroom (which the 3 boys share) smell like a gas station? Sometimes.

When it comes to chores I fight like a parent. If I say clean it and you don’t, you lose it. PERIOD. No exceptions. I locked our playroom many times when they wouldn’t clean it.

If one child cleans alone he is rewarded while the others lose toy privileges. When everyone refuses to clean we break out a trash bag and they get to give all the items they didn’t clean up to Goodwill.

When they refuse to clean (or clean properly) non-toy related chores they lose TV time and play time. They don’t get stars on their chore chart for things they didn’t do, or things they did extremely poorly. Missing out on stars is a big deal because it lessens their chance for rewards.

This is the chore chart we use. Click to purchase.

To Pay Or Not To Pay

I don’t pay for chores I feel like they should do. I’m not paying you to clean your room. Or pick up your toys. To clean your bathroom. Or to wash your clothes.

I’m not one for bribes per se, but I am an advocate of positive reinforcement.  I ordered a chore chart for the boys and it was probably the best thing I ever did in this area. Each boy has a star color and a number of stars they must earn by the end of the week to pull out of the treasure box. Yes, I have a real treasure box. Don’t judge me. It’s filled with toys, books, and movies. I basically throw anything I find on clearance in there.

The chore chart lists everything from personal hygiene to home care. I even threw book reading and school work on there. That physical reminder hanging on the wall helped motivate them without me being a constant nag monster. Sometimes they count their own stars and go complete tasks just to make sure they have enough to pull out the treasure box at the end of the week.

I do pay for extra chores though. If they help me do one of my chores, clean up after their sister or help outside they earn an ‘extra’ star. Each extra star is worth 50 cents and I pay out at the end of the week.

Chore List

My boys clean every area of the house they utilize.

Unpaid Chores

  • Their room is their sole responsibility.
  • They do their own laundry (thank God for Gain Flings).
  • They clean any area their toys occupy (currently the big living room and the back porch).
  • They clean their bathroom (Older kid sprays the cleaners).
  • They clean the table after they eat.

Paid Chores

  • Taking out the trash.
  • Cleaning up the yard.
  • Drying or bringing in laundry that was not theirs
  • Any random thing me or my husband comes up with.

The Pros

The biggest benefit of my young kids having regular chores is that it helps me in the here and now. It takes just enough off my plate that I don’t have nervous breakdowns regularly.

My favorite future benefit is that my sons will make a really helpful husband to someone one day.

When I’m sick, pregnant, post-natal, annoyed, tired, burn-out, or just plum crazy it helps that I have a husband who is willing to help with the domestic side of things. The plus is he actually knows how. He can cook, clean, do laundry, and most importantly he doesn’t mind doing it.

Before you start thinking he’s perfect let me say he’ll do all of that but he NEVER takes his belt off his pants. And he’s more likely to throw said pants on the floor or on top of his dresser than in the actual dirty clothes.

That perpetual source annoyment aside, he is helpful and I do appreciate it. I never get the “but you stay home all day speech”. If I need help he steps in (for the most part) and that’s the kind of men (and people but mostly men lol) I want to send out into the world.

To Each Their Own

You may or may not agree with me and that’s totally fine with me. If you are like me you’ve created a small beautiful army with your body. Use the army. It makes life a lot easier.  I figure it’s a lot easier to teach them at 2 than to start forcing them at 16. But that is just my opinion.

Do your young kids have chores? Do you pay for chores? Let me know in the comments.

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