I started this year thinking that now that Taylor was 8, I wanted to focus on building her personal responsibility. She’s always had some level of responsibility in the home. When she was 3-4 she could put the shoes away and pick up after herself to a degree. When she was 5 and 6, the expectations for cleaning her room were raised. Taylor was also responsible for sorting laundry and we’d rotate other chores in as needed… Sometimes I’d have her sweep the porch or walk the dog, other times she could vacuum or sweep. She even scrubbed the bathtub once which ended up being more fun for her than a chore. (It’s amazing that bubbles make everything fun!)
Each year we’ve added more age-appropriate chores. We want her to know how to do laundry, dishes, and clean a bathroom when she’s grown. But, more often than not, the chores were met with resistance, or we’d forget that we were supposed to have her do chores that day. (Life was busy at that point, so some days the only time we were home was for snuggles and
bedtime.) It wasn’t what I wanted.
For a big chunk of the year Taylor was 7, we tried this “7-Minute Clean-Up.” The idea is that you do 7 FOCUSED minutes on cleaning and then you’re done. I had to explain the focused part each time to make sure we were on the same page. I’d usually do it with Taylor… I’d set the timer and work on the my own chores. Sometimes it worked really well and sometimes it ended up being “16 Minute Nag- You- To- Focus Time.” Ugh.
Then I tried the “Let her room get SO messy she goes crazy and cleans it herself” method. Yeah, no surprise there. Didn’t work. There were no guidelines for success there, no wonder.
I remembered my childhood. My parents started a cleaning business (which I now maintain) and it was a family effort. From the age of 12, I knew how to professionally clean a home or business. I learned professionalism and hard work early. At home, we had chores too. As I got to my early teens and my mom went back to college, everyone took on more household responsibilities. I remember making plans and having my parents say “Make sure the dishes are done first.” and it made me so mad. The reason? “I’ve been doing dishes for years! Don’t they know that I know that I’m responsible for the dishes?!” I didn’t want to be hounded. I wanted to have the freedom to just do my chores when I knew they needed done. I wanted to take care of my responsibilities and get a “Thanks for doing that” at the end. I want to instill that in Taylor. I want her to have that sense of “I can do this!”
In remembering this, it makes me reevaluate our current chore chart. I bought the chore chart at Wal- Mart along with the other moms, but it hasn’t worked. For a while we incorporated appropriate behaviors and personal hygiene in the daily checklist and customized it to our liking. But it put too much of an emphasis on the reward. The reward I’m thinking of with teaching chores is responsibility, confidence and self-sufficiency. I don’t want to have to give out stickers… So I’ve been thinking of revamping the chore chart.
I read several articles about chores. Most emphasize rewards. One said to tell them their responsibilities and the deadline. Then explain that if they’re not done, there are consequences. Give one reminder if the deadline is close and no progress is shown and then enforce the consequence after the deadline. I like the idea, but it’s geared more towards teens. I know that Taylor is capable, but she is still 8 years old… Rather than having spoken deadlines, I think a visual reminder is appropriate. Same idea, just adapted to be more age-appropriate.
I think my plan is this: make 2 lists. One list for Monday through Wednesday and one list for Thursday through Saturday. Sunday = Fun day! Of course there are also daily responsibilities like putting dinner dishes into dishwasher and putting toys away before bedtime. But I’m hoping this new system will spur Taylor to accomplish her chores by the deadline without the nagging. She likes independence and obviously likes to know that we’re proud of her.
How Do You Do Mom?
How do you enforce household responsibilities and build self-confidence in your little without nagging?