Let’s first understand two things. First, almost NO child loves doing chores — not even your sister’s perfect children. Second, it’s critical that we teach and train our children to work and contribute to the family. We’re just going to have to deal with children's reluctance to do chores.
Getting Kids to do Chores
How do we get kids to do chores? First, we demand it. We don’t have to be harsh or uber-controlling. However, we must expect that our children will contribute to the care and upkeep of the family and home. If we don’t, we will have spoiled, lazy kids who grow up to be spoiled, lazy adults. That’s not what we want.
Second, use lots of different methods. Let me ask you this: Do you serve the same meal day after day after day? Do you wear the same clothes day after day after day? Do you see the same movie week after week after week? Of course not. That would be — go ahead and say it — boring.
Exactly my point. To use the same method of chores and work assignments all the time is incredibly boring and dull. It’s no wonder kids lose interest. So, spice it up. Try new things. Switch it around after a few months. Use one way in the school year and something different in the summer. If something doesn’t work, chuck it and try something else.
Methods to encourage kids to do chores
Some of these ways will work at a certain age and won’t be as effective at a different age. Some will work well with older kids and bomb completely with younger ones. It’s important that you be flexible and try something new and NOT FEEL LIKE YOU FAILED. If a system does not work, please move on to another system. Keep searching and changing it.
Here are a variety of systems. You can pick and choose or create your own.
Each day, put in a couple of small daily chores such as vacuum one room, pray, straighten room, brush teeth, etc. As they complete them, move the card from the “to-do” pockets to the “done” pockets. This is an excellent system if you have young ones. It's also good for starting good daily habits.
The house is divided into zones and each person is responsible for keeping his zone clean and tidy all the time. Zones rotate monthly. This is a good plan for learning overall cleaning.
This is a rotating chore chart where every week the chores change. This is good if children are of similar abilities, plus it adds variety. Beware, if the kid does a lousy job the week before it falls on the next person. However, this can be a fun variety.
This is where kids choose each week in a random way. One mom blew up balloons with the chores written inside and had her kids pop them. Another used a dart board to choose chores (make sure to be cautious with this one in an all-male household). I’ve heard of lots of ways. This could be fun on occasion, but I’m not sure I could live with it more than that. This one requires lots of parental maintenance.
This system worked really well for us, especially as our kids got older. We rotate the chores monthly, rather than weekly. I found that if they have it monthly, they’re less likely to do a skim-type job because they know they’re the ones having to do it the next week. Plus, it gives them time to really learn to do the chore well and builds up skills. It also gives them some of the ownership present in the Zone Management system, which is good.
For the past few years, we’ve been using a monthly rotation with an A/B week. Now doesn’t that sound fancy! This is how it’s working. We have A-week chores that are household chores such as vacuuming, sweeping, bathrooms, etc. My kids learned all of these at young ages. B-week chores are outside chores. They may have one inside chore, but the other chores are weeding, fertilizing the yard, sweeping the outside, etc.
So, one week they do A-week chores. The next week they do B-week chores. This adds variety, and it gets the inside and outside work done. This also gives them crucial training and experience in lots of chores, not just house stuff. Each month, they switch to a new set of chores. The parent initials when the job is done.
Here are two more ideas for quick cleanup.
This is where the whole family pitches in and cleans the entire house in one time period. We use this method from time to time, but not terribly often. For example, when we have company coming we set the clock, pick a room and go. We put on some loud music and let ‘er rip. It’s fun.
Everyone goes to his room. We count out 60 seconds then see how fast they can clean. It’s amazing what they can get done in one minute.
These are just some ideas. Feel free to adapt and change as needed and feel good about it. What a wonderful, flexible parent you are.