Here are 5 ideas for staying on top of the chores without it all being down to you. You might have tried some of them out before but did you stick to them and make them part of the family routine or did you give in when the kids complained or you found yourself nagging them?
Pick one thing out and make a decision that you will make it work this week. Explain to the family what you want and why you want them to do it.
Make sure you give plenty of praise even if things are not quite up to your standards and never re-do something or take something away from someone because they haven’t done it “properly”. If you need to give feedback don’t say thank you BUT you forgot…. say thank you, that’s great AND next time will you…
1. Clean the house together, as a family
One of the biggest reason parents fail, when they ask kids to clean their rooms is they aren’t doing something at the same time at the time. Try cooking a nice breakfast next Saturday and having the whole family clean the house all at the same time afterwards, as a family project. (Hint: Kids are more cheerful when fed!)
Either assign rooms to clean, or assign particular tasks to be performed throughout the house, divided per child (and spouse). And encourage your child to do it his or her way rather than you micro managing.
Set a time limit on the cleaning period – make it a short one, no more than one hour maximum.
When it’s over, you will have less housework to do – and more time to devote to anything you please (including “fun” family activities and interaction).
Kids are always going to complain about housework but if you (a) do your own chores WITH them (b) make a habit of always doing it at the same time every week they are much less likely to accept it.
2. Insist that things get put away as soon as they are finished with
Teach your kids that it’s easier to keep the place clean if they put the lid on the jam and put it back in the fridge or cupboard right after making that sandwich – not “after I do my homework” or “when I’ve finished this game”. And make sure you do the same.
Kids will never do what they’re told if they see you or your partner doing something different, modeling what you teach is much more effective than nagging
3. Hire a professional house cleaner!
If you can afford it, have a cleaning lady (or man) come in at least once a week.
It will save you oodles of time and aggravation – the kids may respond better to always picking up their rooms on a Wednesday night because Mrs. Cleanit always comes on Thursday mornings.
If your husband or Mother in Law thinks having a cleaner is extravagant then you can tell them its an investment but if you can afford a cleaner and you want a cleaner DO NOT feel guilty!
4. Return to the job jar
Whenever you have a one off household task to do, like cleaning the windows or sorting a cupboard out, put it in a “job jar” – or create a list and post in the family cyber storage system (whether that’s Dropbox, Evernote or some other system). Place it in an area such as the Kitchen – with a calendar and a marker or pencil attached to a string above it.
Martha Stewart goes one step further, and suggests separating jobs at-a-glance with color coding into “kids’ jobs” and “adult jobs”. Offer rewards per job. Post the reward beside the job on the calendar, or its slip of paper. If anyone does a job, get them to cross it off the list. Change the list four times a year and give an extra “prize” to the child or spouse who has completed the most tasks.
(Don’t think of this as “bribery”: Think of it as using an “incentive”.)
5. Let older kids cook one night a week.
Let them pick the dish. Buy them a special cookbook. Make sure you have all ingredients in stock.
Encourage each older child to develop a “specialty” signature dish (no matter how simple that dish may be). And give them lots of praise for the results!