6 Smart Strategies to Take Charge of Household Chores

6 Smart Strategies to Take Charge of Household Chores

When our kids are little, we focus on lots of fundamentals with them. We make sure they say please and thank-you when it’s appropriate.

We teach them table manners. We tell them about how important it is to obey Mommy and Daddy right away and with a smile.

And after a while, we rejoice because our children start to do the right thing without so many prompts. In fact, it gets to the point where we rarely have to prompt them at all anymore.

And we celebrate that day.

Time goes by and we begin to notice an occasional lapse in our children’s behavior.

They don’t say thank-you when we do something for them. They don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. They don’t obey right away… and they certainly don’t do it with a smile.

6 Smart Strategies to Take Charge of Household Chores

And we’re left scratching our heads because they USED TO DO IT RIGHT… every single time.

What happened?!? We stopped the prompting and the constant hovering and they seem to have forgotten what we taught them!

That same thing can happen with our kids and housework.

When they’re young, they want to be with us all the time. They are THRILLED to be able to help by folding socks and washcloths. They WANT to help with the cooking and with loading the dishwasher.

They can’t wait to ride on the lawnmower with Daddy and to pull weeds with you in the garden. In fact, you couldn’t get them to leave your side for two minutes if you wanted to.

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During the early phases of motherhood, if you’re doing something, then your younger children are doing it right along with you.

6 Smart Strategies to Take Charge of Household Chores

And then something changes. At some point, your kids no longer want to be with you 24/7. You find yourself craving a few minutes of quiet – so you slip away to do a few chores here and there by yourself.

And you soak in the silence… until you have to go break up a fight or find out what the kids are getting into without your eagle eye on them.

And then the kids enter the tween years where suddenly everything becomes a skirmish. And the only way to survive is to choose your battles and let some stuff slide.

And one day you blink a few times and realize that you’re the only one who is doing any housework anymore. Because somehow, in the midst of life, the animals have taken charge of the zoo.

Please tell me that I’m not the only mom who has experienced this!

I know that others also struggle in this area because when I brought up the topic on Facebook, several of my readers responded that they are also planning to tackle this issue in the coming year.

So, if you find yourself in a similar situation and you’d also like to get back to having your kids help share the load with the household chores, how in the world do we do it?!? How do we put the animals out of business and take back control of our zoo?

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What Should We Expect?

1 – A Little Whine With Your Cheese?

Change is hard. We have to realize that when we make changes around the house, it’s going to hurt initially.

We must be prepared that our kids will probably do a little bit (or a lot) of whining and that’s okay. We must brace ourselves!

2 – Be realistic

If we have dreams that suddenly our kids are going to do ALL of the housecleaning and we’re going to have time to relax and put our feet up, we’re kidding ourselves. When we first start getting our kids involved in doing chores they’ve never done before, we’ll actually have MORE work.

We’ll be the ones training them. We’ll be the ones inspecting their work. We’ll be the ones finding leverage, putting systems in place, and making sure the chores get done.

Hmmmmm… Doesn’t sound very appealing, does it?!? Not really. But over time, it’ll be worth it. Eventually, we’ll have kids who are trained in lots of important life skills and we’ll also have some help around the house.

Remembering Your Priorities

Learning to do chores and to be responsible is important. But there are even more important things in life. If you have your hands full trying to mold good character in your children and don’t have time to worry about chores right now, then that’s fine.

Obviously, character development is more important than knowing how to complete every household task. If your kids don’t know how to iron clothes or mend socks, it isn’t the end of the world. If they don’t have a relationship with Jesus or they aren’t kind to their siblings, addressing those issues should have a higher priority.

How Do We Take Back Control in This Area?

So, now that we know what to expect, how do we actually implement genuine change when it comes to getting the kids to help with household duties?

Here are 6 Smart Strategies to Take Charge of Household Chores:

1 – Get Dad on Board

There’s something about having our husbands involved which makes such a huge difference. I don’t know if it’s their larger stature or their deeper voice or what. But if Dad speaks, our boys will be more likely to listen.

Present a united front. This is super important!

2 – Come Up With a Game Plan

Decide which chores are age appropriate for your child and go from there. Choose one area of the house or yard to focus on at a time.

For instance, if you decide to have your kids learn how to do the various tasks associated with the kitchen, you can have younger children set the table and clear the table. You can have others help to prepare meals, load and unload the dishwasher, and do the necessary cleaning tasks.

You can have your older kids help with meal planning, make grocery lists, shop for groceries and clip coupons. And teens with driver’s licenses are usually eager to make impromptu trips to the grocery store for you!

3 – Be Sure to Mix it Up

Don’t just assign the nasty tasks such cleaning toilets and scooping the litter boxes. Give your kids the more enjoyable tasks as well.

We want to give our kids a love for work just as much as we do for learning. If your child loves working in the garden with you, let him or her come to the nursery and pick out plants. Let them be involved with actually planning the garden.

If your child is good mechanically, let him or her learn car maintenance or home maintenance and be in charge of performing oil changes on the cars or filling the water softener with salt, or something similar that he or she would enjoy.

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4 – What’s their Motivation?

Try to come up with some sort of reward or other motivation if your kids do what you expect of them. It’s always helpful to give kids a reason to WANT to complete their chores rather than simply expecting them to do it out of the goodness of their own heart.

You don’t necessarily have to pay your kids but try to come up with something such as extra privileges which will be motivating to them rather than just nagging until they get their chores done.

Think about it. I would guess that 99% of people wouldn’t go to their job anymore if they weren’t paid. The same is true when it comes to our kids completing their chores.

Give them a positive reason to do what you want them to do!

5 – Togetherness is Key

Another tip is to try to get the whole family involved. It’s much more enjoyable if you are all working together toward a common goal rather than being singled out to work while everyone else is having fun.

Believe me, I know that from experience!

Consider having the entire family pitch in to clean up after meals. Or have everyone spend 15 minutes tidying up the house on a Saturday morning. Or spend a few hours doing yard work together.

This makes chores much more fun and allows you to spend some necessary family time together as well.

6 – Temper Your Expectations

Our kids are still learning and we need to give them plenty of grace! I’ve heard that moms with at least one daughter seem to have an easier time getting their kids involved in completing housework – and even having their kids clean up around the house without being asked. EGADS!

All male households usually don’t have as easy of a time getting the kids to see the mess, let alone pick up the mess. Of course, our sons might be more willing to snowplow our driveways and run to the grocery store to pick up ice cream.

Pros and cons, right?!?

And fortunately, there are ways to motivate boys to help with other chores around the house. We just need to remember what we’re up against and use methods that work on males!

Another thing to remember is that many of our kids will resist learning how to perform these tasks until they actually experience the need for themselves. My boys NEVER wanted to pump gas into our cars until they had their own license. They didn’t want to go to the grocery store with me (after they were tweens) until they were driving and wanted to learn how to do it on their own. (Anything to have an excuse to drive, right?!?)

I remember vividly that when I first moved out of my parents’ house, I didn’t know how to do hardly anything. My parents weren’t very strict about us doing chores when we were kids.

So there I was, living in my apartment with a cat and suddenly if I didn’t do something it didn’t get done. So, I learned how to cook and how to clean. And even how to keep my cat’s litter box clean.

Because suddenly it mattered to me!

So, even if our kids aren’t interested in learning about chores right now, doesn’t mean they are doomed to a life of laziness. Someday it will matter to them. They’ll have someone besides to their parents to impress and that will make all the difference.

If you’re feeling up to it, however, and if the animals have been running your zoo, this might be a good time to dust off your lion tamer hat and chair and get to work changing things up.

Whether you take a short sabbatical from regular subjects to run a Life Skills Boot Camp or whether you become more intentional about weaving life skill training into each day, figure out how you’d like to get your kids involved and then give it a try.

There’s no one right way to run every household. Do whatever works best for you and your family!

Have you struggled in this area? What tips have you learned to get your kids to be responsible for their household chores? I’d love to hear about your experience. Please leave a comment below.

6 Smart Strategies to Take Charge of Household Chores
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18 thoughts on “6 Smart Strategies to Take Charge of Household Chores”

  1. Darlene Oliveira

    You aren’t the only one who struggles in this area. When it comes to boys and chores, I get the best results with a detailed list on cleaning days, but I really struggle with the day to day stuff. My boys do help, but let’s face it, a man just doesn’t do it like a woman so I have a hard time with my expectations. When things seem to be out of control, I try to remember this is a season. Not everyone has boys home all day for 3 meals a day, and this season will end before I am ready. I am thankful for my husband who helps me stay balanced and for all the years God has given me to care for our boys.

    1. That’s a wonderful perspective, Darlene. My biggest goal with all of this is to make sure I’m not doing my boys a disservice by giving them a false impression of all of the work it takes to run a household. But you are SO VERY RIGHT that this time will go by quickly and it’s important to enjoy it. Thank goodness God gave us husbands. Mine helps to keep me balanced as well! And yeah, even though they don’t clean the way we do, I love having them around. 🙂

  2. Getting my kids to do chores has been a trial for me as well. What has worked best is to make it part of the daily routine. (NOT that they automatically do it, or even remember to do it.) After breakfast they each empty half the dishwasher. At first, there was a lot of grumbling. Now, they need to be reminded, but they do it without too much fuss. Having an empty dishwasher at the beginning of the day makes the rest of the day run smoother as we can load dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher as we generate them. (They must be reminded to put their dirty dishes into the dishwasher too!)
    The other major chore is laundry. I have them bring it to the laundry room and sort it. Then I’ll wash and dry it and deliver it to them for folding. (Son is 9, daughter is 7.) They can earn a reward for folding & putting away their laundry, either a nickel an item or some minutes toward a video game. This is the only regular chore that they get some sort of payment for at this point.
    Besides those two, they have to clean up their rooms daily. Getting to this point has been a journey, but I would like to start adding more simple chores to our routine now that these are working fairly well. You are right that at first it means WE will have more work to do as we teach them and deal with the attitudes that crop up when chores are instituted. Maybe that’s why I’ve been procrastinating about adding new chores to their list!
    Thank you for the encouraging posts! I always glean some good ideas from your blog.

    1. Thanks for sharing what’s working for your family, Amy. It sounds like you’re off to a good start! And thanks for your kind words. I’m so glad you’ve been encouraged by my blog. That is my main goal in all of this! Take care and God bless you. 🙂

  3. So true! Having boys I have to agree with Darlene. Boys are not girls BUT they can do things. My boys help but need to know there is a finish line. The worst part for them about helping isn’t the helping but the disruption to whatever they are doing at the time. So I make sure that they each have a set amount of chores to do each day. That way as they are working through helping they know that if I do my best after this chore, or after 2 more I will be done for the day. Knowing they get to relax and focus on their wants is great motivation for them.

  4. We do chores and write about chores a lot around here and would have most of the same suggestions. Our kids actually STILL enjoy the times we all work together. We do try to focus more on natural consequences and rewards than external consequences and rewards and I always remember “inspect what you expect” because it’s very easy for them to start cutting corners. We need to keep them accountable when they start working independently.

  5. My biggest issue atm – getting my 19 yo g 17yo b and 15 yo b doing the chores that they have done routinely since they were preschool and now upper teens they don’t do them….. they don’t so my 12 yo g and esp my 8yo b think they don’t need to do anything…..
    Friends here this morning – he was saying about everyone helping out. I commented that my 4 older ones should be able to run this place on their ear. His comment -yep. Ours do (similar ages) (sigh). I think the dad factor is huge. I talk to h and he either says he’ll talk with kids or he runs in and says – kids do what your mother says – then disappears and that’s the end of that and I’m still left to make them do it. I have tried several different routines over the years as they have grown and our family changed but I’ve about given up now and mostly do it myself (the brain fog and exhaustion of fibromyalgia means little gets done and its hard to push them all along) – Or i get really cross and they do enough to make it look like they’ve done something or the younger ones go and hide

    1. Yeah, that’s tough. And I think you’re right that the dad factor plays a big role. Have a talk with your husband and tell him about your concerns. But I just want to caution you not to compare your family to that other family. They may have been really good at implementing chores around their house but I guarantee there is something else that they aren’t doing that your family is. We tend to compare our weak areas to other people’s strong areas and that isn’t fair to you. 🙂

  6. We call it inmates running the asylum around here! I have been reminded recently that I am not trying to raise a really great kid, I’m trying to raise a really great adult. It helps when I’m feeling impatient with having to say the same thing over and over. Like you said, they aren’t supposed to get it now, but I know they’ll have been taught the skills to succeed for when the time comes.

  7. Hi Angie – By doing chores, kids learn vital life skills that help them live independently in adult life. Without learning how to do chores (by getting involved at a young age), then they will always rely on others to help them, or live in a dirty and messy home. Hope this helps!

  8. What an excellent way to get kids to do housework. It does benefit kids. Growing up, chores were a given in our house. It blows my mind when I hear parents don’t get their children to help out around the house. Kids who’ve never had to do chores will struggle when they leave home and have to fend for themselves. Thanks for sharing.

  9. This is so amazing and helping reading for me to know more abut Household chores. Its really hard to manage the household work, but this article has something new tips for me. Thank you for sharing this article.

  10. Thank you for sharing this post.
    Getting to this point has been a journey, but I would like to start adding more simple chores to our routine now that these are working fairly well. You are right that at first it means WE will have more work to do as we teach them and deal with the attitudes that crop up when chores are instituted. Maybe that’s why I’ve been procrastinating about adding new chores to their list!

  11. When things seem to be out of control, I try to remember this is a season. Not everyone has boys home all day for 3 meals a day, and this season will end before I am ready. although thank you so much

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