8 Top Tips for Getting Your Family to Do the Weekly Chores
It’s Saturday morning. Your crazy week is behind you and it’s the weekend!
Saturdays for me used to be kind of dreamy. They would start slowly. When I was a kid it was Saturday morning cartoons, which turned into Saturday morning sleep-ins, which turned into Saturday morning brunch dates or work-outs with friends at the gym.
Fast forward through Mommyhood when the days of the week all blur together and I now have the Saturday mornings of being the parent of two almost-teenage girls.
What does this mean? Sometimes it feels like I have turned into a drill sergeant when it comes to getting chores done.
Pick up your clothes!
Make your bed!
Clean the kitchen!
Take the dog for a walk!
But for those of you who know me – does that sound like me? Especially since becoming a coach, I’ve tried to be more motivational and inspirational about the whole housework thing. I try my best to inspire concepts of team and shared values.
I no longer tie chores to allowance and rewards and instead hope to inspire my girls to feel the deep inner joy of the satisfaction of a clean home.
How is that working for me you might ask?
It’s not. LOL
Well, not entirely, but we’re getting there.
Meanwhile, we often still have hiccups. Last weekend I asked my girls to bring their laundry to the laundry room and I offered that if it was there, I would wash it.
Well, neither girl’s laundry showed up.
So when the end of my day of doing laundry had come and I let the girls know they would have to do their own, all hell seemed to break loose with my 12-year-old and she promptly hid her laundry until the next time I decided to do laundry.
Yup, dirty underwear hiding in her room somewhere.
That was not the result I was hoping for.
Which got me to thinking:
How do busy parents motivate their children to help with the housework?
I put a call out to my social media community and I got a barrage of responses. Some of them were super funny.
Here are the top 8 tips (plus a bonus tip) I received to get your family to help with the household chores:
- Chore Charts
I was astounded by the number of friends who had elaborate chore charts and lists in their homes to get their children to dutifully complete their weekly tasks.
Colour-coded, incentivized and clearly laid out. They would put the most organized taskmaster to shame.
- Bribes and Threats
This was a very popular option and the number of bribes and threats different people offered was hilarious. My favourite was where one of my single Dad friends threatened to run away if his teenage boys didn’t clean the house. He returned home to discover they had been playing video games and whatever else all evening, so he promptly left!
The boys quickly tidied up and begged him to return home.
Many parents tie weekly chores to allowance or extra cash. This works for a whole lot of kids, but definitely not for everyone. When one of our daughters was very young we asked her what she wanted as her biggest reward if she had the right number of stars on her chore chart for the week.
Her biggest desire? To go to the swimming pool with her Dad. That seems so long ago now it breaks my heart. The point is, whatever motivates your child, go for it! It doesn’t have to be money.
- Team Spirit and Shared Values
Okay, this one is mine. And I won’t kid you it doesn’t always work and I will definitely defer back to bribes and threats in a pinch. The other thing is it has kind of backfired on me. I shared with my family how their messy bedrooms made me feel, and as I work from home and often meet clients in my home, it was important to me that their rooms were tidy.
This opened up a conversation about how they prefer to keep their rooms, and it turns out that I am the only person in the house who values a made bed! In fact, my eldest prefers a messy bed because she thinks it looks more inviting and if it’s made it’s too stuffy and organized for her. Go figure. I no longer insist she makes her bed, but she does do it more often without my asking. I see this as a step forward towards honouring both of our values.
- Encourage Your Teens to Have Friends Over The teens don’t seem to care about a tidy house until their new boyfriend or girlfriend is coming over for a visit. It works like a charm with every parent of a teenager I’ve spoken with. My daughter will even “declutter” our home before “certain” people come over – specifically removing photos of herself that are around the house. (insert eye roll here)
- Fines When bribes and threats weren’t working in my house I decided I needed to hit them where it hurt – the pocketbook. Instead of paying them to make their beds and pick up after themselves, I figured they should pay ME if they hadn’t done it and I ended up doing it. Wow. That went over like a lead balloon. But it worked! They realized that I was serious about the housework. They certainly didn’t want to pay me, so they started making their beds, miraculously, every morning!
- The Little House on the Prairie Effect
How many of you remember this series of books and television series about Laura Ingalls and her family and how willingly they seemed to do their daily chores. Not unlike this television show from the 1970s, many of my friends simply said that when they were kids, their parents asked them to clean their room and so they did; simple as that.
In all cases this obedience was self-reported so I’m wondering if the memory banks are skewed in terms of how willingly they really did their weekly household chores? Hmmm…
- Clear Expectations The biggest over-riding tip of all is to establish and maintain clear expectations in the home. My experience is that if the parents don’t enforce it, it doesn’t usually happen, and if we as parents slip up, the kids will slip up. Sad but true.
- BONUS TIP: When all else fails – hire a housekeeper! (or hire one anyway)
Good luck on establishing a family-centred cleaning routine in your home – whether you can afford to pay for some help or you need to bribe, threaten or run away yourself to let your kids know you’re serious – what I know for sure is that every year what motivates my children seems to change.
What are your best tips for encouraging all in your home to participate in the cleaning up and household chores? I’d love to hear! Please comment in the chat box below or send me a private email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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