101 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help at Home Part Five

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Here is 101 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help at Home Part Five.

46. Everyone in the family should expect to give at least one half hour daily and two or more hours on the weekend to the upkeep of the house. Thirty minutes a day can be divided by 10 minutes in the morning before school, 10 minutes right after school and 10 minutes before bed.

Do the math. If you have four people in the family, that is two hours of pickup a day if everyone pitches in, or two hours or more for one person, usually mom, if she has to do everything herself. Actually it usually ends up being more, because if one doesn't clean one has no vested interest in keeping it clean!

Order the booklet Home Maintenance, Who Does What Around the House? from our website www.ArtichokePress.com. It contains a complete listing of everything it takes to make a house a home, and includes sections for members of the family to check the tasks for which they take responsibility. What an eye-opener! Most children have no idea what goes into keeping a home running on a daily, weekly and yearly basis.

47. Take a ten-minute break from deep cleaning for a game of tag outside. You will be surprised how much more energy the kids have after running around the house a few times.

48. Challenge each other to a race to clean your rooms. Switch bedrooms occasionally so that you get to clean up somebody else's mess. Set the timer and turn up the music.

49. Have a garage sale twice a year. Buy pizza and a movie with the proceeds and take the leftovers directly to the Goodwill. Don't even be tempted to bring the leftovers back inside. Take the tax deduction; it is worth more than the time it will take you to put stuff away.

50. Make treasure boxes out of apple boxes and cover them with contact paper. Children can store in them anything they want to keep forever. They will do a natural sorting out; don't be tempted to interfere.

51. Have a house party on the anniversary of the day you moved into your home. Buy something special like a rose bush, sofa, or new paint. Clean the whole place up for the party.

Time for an intermission before we go on to the next 50 ideas we can do to get our kids to help at home.

Here's a great quotation from Stephen Vannoy's book The Ten Greatest Gifts I Give My Children: Parenting from the Heart:

"Whenever I interact with my children, either I can just get the job done and leave them with inappropriate qualities and values, or I can get the job done and leave them with priceless gifts of qualities and values. Please remember that your commitment now is toward nurturing internal qualities and values, and that takes a lot longer than simply demanding that the trash be taken out this very minute."

I agree-our goal is not a spotless house, but a cooperative, independent, problem-solving child who will grow into a wonderful adult.

How, on to the last 50 suggestions! Ta Da...Drum roll please..


52. Hire a housecleaner for a half a day, not only to clean, but also to teach the family how to clean in a systematic way. Many families feel they can't afford to hire a housecleaner, but this was one of the best investments our family ever made. The kids were willing to listen to someone who cleaned for a living, especially when she taught them shortcuts. We all learned great new techniques to keep the house livable. The cost was less than taking everyone out for burgers and a movie, and the lessons we learned will last a lifetime.

For me, hiring someone to come in to give us advice was especially important. I was the baby of the family and a mid-life surprise, so my parents were a little older and I was a lot more spoiled. My mother worked outside the home, but prided herself on her excellent cooking and spotless home. But because time was limited, she sometimes said something that many parents are guilty of saying: "It's easier for me to do it myself than to take the time to teach you how to do it the way I like it done." Consequently, I grew up with a visual picture in my mind of what a clean house and delicious food should look and smell like, but I didn't know how to achieve it. I had never been taught the process! What she thought was a gift to me actually was an embarrassment, especially when I had to have my husband teach me how to do basic homemaking tasks. I made a decision then that our children would learn to take care of themselves and be self-sufficient when they left our home.

53. Buy, or check out from the library, the book, Is there Life After Housework? by Don Asslet. He finally taught me the process I had never learned as a child. He teaches methods and materials that make cleaning much easier. His methods incorporate a system of cleaning so you spend a minimum amount of time and get the maximum results. I like his methods because the room ‘sparkles" when you finish. Many cleaning companies consider his book a bible.

54. Buy lots of tape and scissors when they are on sale and keep them in various places in the house. Don't spend time and send tempers flying trying to find out who used them last and didn't return them to the one designated location. It is also a good idea to keep a sufficient supply of cleaning equipment and products on each floor so that all have easy access to them. If you keep a small bucket under each bathroom sink with cleaning rags, window cleaner and all-purpose cleaner, a ten-minute job takes seven minutes. If you have to search for the supplies and then round up the kids, cartoons will be on or friends will be at the door and you will have a daylong struggle on your hands.

55. Never redo a job that has already been passed. Just keep reminding yourself that your role is teacher, not boss. Focus on what was right and then take three or four minutes to teach a portion of the job. Demonstrate a quick way to change pillowcases. Then ask if they can come up with a way that would be more efficient and have them teach you. Remember, the end result is to get the linen changed, so if their way is different but comfortable for them, let them do it their way. You are not just teaching them to change pillowcases, you are assisting them in looking at things in new and innovative ways. You are telling them, in actions as well as words, that even though this is the way that it has always been done, you value their opinion and insight.

We want our children to know that there is not just one right way to solve problems, but many ways to approach a task. Success breeds success. When they feel confident that their voices will be heard, they will feel more comfortable speaking up in other situations about their own needs, beliefs and values.

56. Distinguish between praise and encouragement. Praise is for a job that is completed and well done. It carries with it an element of competition. Encouragement is offered as an incentive to keep going. It is offered for effort or improvement. It implies a spirit of cooperation.

Some encouraging phrases are: Just kept it up, you're doing fine; I have faith in your ability to do this job; this is really a hard task for a teenager, and you are only 12. You must feel very proud of the work you are accomplishing. Discouraging phrases are: You just can't seem to get this through your head; why can't I ever count on you? I should have known you would screw it up!

A discouraged child lacks the courage and incentive to try. An encouraged child has been given the courage to take a risk. A child knows she will keep getting better and better, the more she continues to work on it. The damage to self-esteem that is inflicted by negative motivation can have lasting effects. You really can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, and you really can get better results with positive comments rather than belittling ones.

57. Watch the personal labels you give your children. Don't call Sally "the neat one" or Johnny "my little helper". The one with the label can be discouraged in trying to live up to your expectations and the other children may feel a need to compete for the title. It is also important if you have more than one child to avoid any subtle encouragement of competition between brothers and sisters.

58. Teach your children to assume personal responsibility. Focus your attention on the learning experience not on the finished product. Constantly remind yourself that you are a teacher and your subject matter is life skills. A good affirmation to repeat to yourself is, I will be as helpful as I can in assisting children to help themselves.

What does it mean to teach your children responsibility? Every parent has a different answer and a different expectation of when and how their child will assume personal responsibility. One thing is for sure and that is that responsibility must be taught. It is not a natural skill, but it can be learned at any age. You do not become responsible when you are mature; rather, you become mature when you are responsible.

Four variables in this exciting venture:
1. Your child (learning style, age, motor skills, interest, hot buttons or incentives)
2. Your expectations (perfection or ever-learning; ask yourself -- do I punish when someone tells the truth?)
3. Your example and how you model responsibility and correct bad choices and errors in judgment. (Use the 4 R's: Recognize, Remorse, Restitution and Resolve to correct mistakes.)
4. Consistency and follow-through (natural and logical consequences).

59. Build self-esteem by telling your child when her actions make you feel good. Remind her how what she does benefits her and the rest of the family. It is important to be part of a group. We all want to belong and know that our contributions make a difference to someone. If your child has trouble with self-esteem, please check out our website at www.ArtichokePress.com. We have books, CD's and special reports that deal with this important subject.

60. Give recognition as soon as possible for things that are done correctly. School yourself to come into the house and see at least five things that have been done rather than fifty that haven't. Don't make them sorry you came home from work.

Next: 101 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help at Home Part Six

Previous: 101 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help at Home Part Four

Judy H. Wright is a parent educator, family coach, and personal historian who has written more than 20 books, hundreds of articles and speaks internationally on family issues, including end of life. You are invited to visit our blog at www.AskAuntieArtichoke.com for answers and suggestions which will enhance your relationships. You will also find a full listing of free tele-classes and radio shows held each Thursday just for you at www.ArtichokePress.com.

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