We've all been there, ready to tear our hair out because our child is refusing to do chores. It's easier to just do them ourselves, but we want our children to learn responsibility, and what it means to be part of a family team. In this new generation of gadgets and instant gratification, work seems to be low on children's list of priorities. Chores have changed a lot through the years, but they all had to be done. Here are some examples of chores throughout our family's generations.
Picture a dairy farm in the early 1940s. Erin's grandmother, Beverly, wakes up before the sun rises and runs through the cold morning air to the outhouse. Beverly pumps the cold water into the pan and lights the wood burning stove to boil it. She collects and washes the eggs and feeds the chickens. Then she makes coffee, steak and farm fresh eggs for breakfast. This is her daily routine, and she liked it!
In the 1960's, Erin's mother, Shannon, carefully rinsed every dish in steaming hot water so the food particles wouldn't dirty her mother's new dishwasher. Sometimes she didn't attach the hose to the tap quite right and it burst loose and sprayed water all over. She just shakes her head. It's a daily challenge, and just another part of life.
During the 1990s, Shannon's daughter, Erin, bellies up to the sink. She and her five siblings have been arguing about whose turn it is to do the dishes. Shannon insists that Erin scrape and rinse every dish before placing it in the dishwasher. When Shannon's back is turned, Erin quickly shoves the food covered dishes into the machine and turns it on. Later, she discovers that the leftover food particles are baked onto the dishes.
Fast forward to 2013. Erin's 8-year-old daughter, Haley, has to do the dishes. She has to scrape the big chunks off before she puts the dishes in the dishwasher, which has a built in disposal. She opens the dishwasher and it is still full, huffing and puffing she sets to work.
Though chores have changed over the past four generations, the fact that our children still need to complete them has not. If you find yourself fighting a daily battle like the mom in the video, with constant reminders or threats, here are some tips:
Whining doesn't become you
Please don't mirror the goatee-wearing mom that is constantly on her child's back. Have a meeting, establish the ground rules, let the kids know that they have chores to do every day. They may complete them whenever they want, but will not be allowed privileges until they are done. Let them help plan the system. Then let it go. Don't constantly nag. Wait for the unsuspecting child to ask for a privilege then remind him or her of your rules. Erin's family voted to get up an hour earlier to get chores done before school so they had more time after school to play.
Charts, rewards and allowance, oh my!
In Erin's home, her children earn one 'Oscarson Buck' for every chore completed. She has a list of activities her children would enjoy, everything from ice cream with dad to a trip to the zoo. Each has an amount listed, the kids can earn and turn in bucks for a fun activity. Pinterest has some fun chore chart ideas, and you can get as creative as you want. Chore.com has a great collection of free printable charts.
Cats, Dogs, chickens or cows
Pets can be a constant battle, even if your children promise to take care of them. This proclamation of their undying affection for the animal will last up until the moment it lays down a "chore" on the lawn. Explain to your child what pet care involves and what you expect him to do. Make sure the chores are age appropriate. A 5-year-old may not be old enough to wash a dog, but he or she could easily feed and water pets with the proper instructions. If you still need further help, try a pet chart, or add it to your existing chore chart.
My way or the highway
Handing your 8-year-old a toilet brush and cleaner and marching her into the bathroom to clean it will not guarantee good work. Your children will need you to teach them how to properly complete the chore and they will need practice before they are expected to do good work. In our home, when an older child regularly completes a chore perfectly, he or she is allowed the privilege of teaching their chore to the younger children until they are proficient enough to take over for the older child.
Hopefully these tips will help and the accompanying video will give you a laugh. We sincerely hope you don't receive the gift the mother received in the end of the movie from your child, just the gift of completed chores.
(Special thanks to MyJobChart.com for sending us the video. For a great tool to help your children with their chores, check out their website today!)