Do you Herd Chipmunks at Chore Time?

Getting my kids to follow through on their jobs at home is a lot like herding chipmunks.  If that conjures up images of Disney's Chip and Dale cartoons you've just about got it right. Every day after school I do my best to run my 'lil punks through the job routine and it's exhausting!  Growing up we did Saturday jobs and answered to the wrath of my mother when our rooms were beyond compliance but we rarely did daily chores... now I understand why. It was easier for my mother to wake an hour earlier and get everything done instead of following 6 of us around to make sure we did our chores.  

Now after reaching the grand total of 6 myself I realize that my mother did me a slight disservice while preserving her sanity.  I never quite figured out how to finish a job right until I got to college. I vowed I'd teach my kids responsibility... and being responsible enough to follow through with my plan is kicking my butt right now but hey, my heads still above water and I'm paddling!

Here's a few tricks I've learned to get your kids to work- and I've got the scars to prove it!

  • Let them know what's expected.  Keep a chart, or schedule and be consistent with the chores that are on it.
  • Teach them how to do the job right.  This is huge. If your 10 year old doesn't know how to clean a bathroom correctly (like what accumulates on those little bolts that hold the toilet to the floor) it may be due to a lack of instruction.  Kids need to be shown, taught and then practice doing a job over and over before they master it.
  • Let them be accountable for their job.  When the job is completed the kids need to show accountability by crossing it of a list, or checking a box that it's complete.  This is your signal that the job needs final approval and a quick parent check.  Don't be afraid to tell your 'lil punky that it doesn't quite meet the expected standard you taught her and needs to be completed properly.
  • Assign specific jobs to a child until he/she master them.  Remember, we mums are teaching life skills and responsibility.  Learning to clean a toilet properly, setting the table correctly, doing the windows or feeding the dog are all skills that they need to learn.  You might even consider giving your 12 year old the job of checking your oil each week or making appointments for haircuts or Dr. visits.  Our kids need to be taught these skills sometime before they leave home and it OUR JOB to teach them!
  • Teach them they're a member of a family and have a responsibility to contribute.  This one is hard.  In the early days of children's chores, kids didn't have to be convinced that what they did was important.  If Johnny didn't milk the cow, the cow went crazy and the family had no milk.  If Joey didn't bring the wood, there might not be a fire for cooking supper.  If Emma didn't fetch water, well... you get the idea.  There were hard consequences for not doing your work... and that reality still exists in the world.  Life is so convenient now but the principle of responsibility remains and our kids need to contribute.  SOOOO... around this house it's not uncommon for a kid who skips jobs to skip dinner too!  If everyone is slacking... dinner isn't served until the work is complete.  Hard consequences, but they work!
  • Love them and Create memories.  My boys and girls don't forget how to clean a toilet because we laugh pretty good during the instruction process.  They know EXACTLY which gender pees where on the toilet seat.  The girls eeww and gross out when they see how boys don't aim, and the boys eeww and gross out when they see how much T.P. the girls use (because it clogs the toilet).  WELL!! It does!  We make instruction time fun... and memorable.
How are YOU herding your Chipmunks through Chore time?


Lauren said...

I've noticed that my 2 year old will pick up his toys much faster when he is working it with someone. So I give him a jump start and he will work pretty quickly! I agree with you about being instructed properly. I usually didn't know what I was doing and therefore didn't want to do it.

becca said...

Have you tried that Scott brand that quickly dissolves? That stuff has saved many a plunging... though I just googled it and read that Angel Soft dissolves just as fast without the added price... so I shall try that now.
I've yet to figure out a solution for pee on the walls/floor surrounding the toilet though... ugh. I remember when they were babies and someone said boys pee everywhere... I didn't believe it and thought it was SO GROSS. Now I'm living it... still think it is gross, but it is reality. Waiting for a boy to be old enough to clean the toilets/walls...

kari and kijsa said...

We ahve many chipmunks here! Kari assigns tasks and times to complete them- Kijsa has smaller chores (younger children!) but is still trying to work on this one!! Loved that kari had her oldest plump the couch pillows and spray with febreeze every morning- what a crisp look to greet each day!
kari & kijsa

Lady Farmer said...

Wish you would have been my mom! My life would have been alot easier having learned these life skills when I was young. The only chipmunks I chase now are the ones the cats bring into the house.
Thanks for the lesson.

Tangee said...

We all do our chores at the same time. When everyone is dressed and has eaten breakfast it's time to get to our chores. I totally know what you mean about doing chores on a daily basis. It can get a little hard when you are the one herding them all. I've got 4 and it seems to be working for us though.

Wendy @ The Shabby Nest said...

I always love your posts. Such good info, but entertaining as well. I think I have a bit of your mother's syndrome. I always vow to be better about getting the kids to do their chores, but it is hard, because it is definitely easier to do it myself. sigh.

simplyposies said...

I just love your posts... Thank you so much for them! So in looking at your chart, I noticed on the right side is the room, up top is the task/fix/check/done, and the other sticky notes... do they represent the child and specific task? How do you divide the tasks? I would love more details. The last couple of weeks, we've been slacking on the jobs around here. And I love your system. Thanks again.

Debbie @ Cheaper by the Bakers Dozen said...

You are very smart for a youngun'.
I guess six kids will do that for you. (Just think how smart you'll be by the time you have 12! :)

If I could underline something in your post it would be about assigning a chore to a child until there is Mastery...and Beyond (like Buzz Lightyear :)
Changing chores too often is not only hard on the mom, but you miss a great opportunity to teach perseverance, contentment, second-mile service, etc.

great post (not as good as the toile post..., but right up there!)

Riley said...

Did you write this just for me?! Probably :o) You have the best ideas and I know I need to be better at the follow-through-praise-and-repremand stages if I want to see improvement and/or any kind of progress. You're awesome, Mrs. P.O.P.! Keep at it!

Jody said...

I'm sure you've already figured this out, but that WAS NOT my daughter who left the previous post! :o)

Carla said...

I have to tell you ,because my 11 year old son I needed to tell someone on the internet because if he had to indure this other kids should have to also :)
So I will tell you since you got me hooked on the totally organized book. This week I started the 8:00 pick up. Where at 8:00 am and 8:00 pm that I go around and gather all things out and put it in a basket, those things are mine until they do a job to get them back. I have a container full of quick jobs to do that they draw from most of them take 5-10 min to do. So if it so there shoes in there they need for school they will have time to earn them back before school. Then on Sat they have to earn all things in the basket back weather they want it or not.I have had to make a couple changes on this so far. I have added a 5:00 pm pickup to get the after school mess picked up before dad gets home , I didn't like having to wait tell 8:00 to pick it up. And if my basket get full before Sat then we have to earn everything back early. I didn't want to have to keep having a bigger and bigger pile. I am hoping this accomplishes a couple things in time. They will learn to self police them selves, I want to stop telling to pick stuff up I just give a reminder before bed and that is it .And They have to do extra work since they left a mess out. I hope this works. So far its went well. allot of stuff out but the system seems to be working with my 6 chipmunks.

Jenna said...

I needed this post this week. My boys are trying to earn the family life merit badge for Boy Scouts & I realized that they do not have five jobs each. Time to start cracking the figurative whip around this place. My oldest has to unload the DW which he frequently claims he doesn't have time for - we added a consequence of unloading, loading, & washing all of the remaining dishes for not having time to unload & he's become a remarkable time manager.

A book that I read last year talked about teaching kids life skills - the goal is to have independent adults. The book listed skills & ages - The Parenting Breakthrough maybe? Sorry to ramble on - great post.

Kira said...

Our mama's did the best they could :) Much too Lee's dissapointment I still don't make the bed because my Mom always did it for me (how long can I blame my mama for this?!?). Don't worry Lee's mama didn't make his bed so he is a pro :)

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