Teaching your children to clean is important for parents. But WHEN is the best time to teach your children to clean?
Since becoming a mom, I’ve noticed a lot of age-appropriate chore charts for children. Supposedly my 2- and 3-year-olds were able to put their toys away, dress themselves, clean up spills, help clear the table, make their beds, and start to help with cooking.
Here’s the reality check, though. When I would start to feel like my bright babies must be falling behind developmentally because they didn’t or couldn’t do those chores, I realized the chores just might be absolutely ridiculous.
Whenever I would try to introduce and enforce those cleaning chores, my young children could have cared less.
They didn’t want to pick up one toy before getting another toy out.
They didn’t want to learn how to clean just like Mommy.
They didn’t want to fill chore charts with stickers showing their accomplishments.
After attempting to instill those cleaning skills with my toddlers, I just stopped.
It took less time to do it on my own, but more importantly I didn’t feel like a battle of wills on something like cleaning.
At the risk of spoiling my children and enabling them to be slackers, I let them act their ages – and play.
Finding the right time
I never intended for them to skate by for all of their childhoods, though. And now that they’re both school-aged, I’ve tried to add chores again.
I fully expected some kind of a struggle or battle of wills.
But it never happened.
Instead, my children have been eager to learn chores and help out around the house. They have been even more eager to earn money for their work.
One of my main mindsets to parenting is to help my children become self-sufficient adults someday. When it’s time to leave home, they need to care for themselves and survive in the world. Part of that means understanding that they need to do a good job – and earn a good wage for their hard work. They also need to know basic skills, like taking care of themselves and their surroundings.
What’s working well for my family
Just to clarify, my son is finishing second grade and my daughter is finishing kindergarten. This spring, we started an approach to cleaning as a family that has worked really well.
I created chore charts (and I HATE chore charts!) with chores they are responsible for each day of the week.
When they choose to complete a chore, they get to add a checkmark to their chart. For each chore they do, I’ll give them 10 cents on our weekly payday.
If they choose to be lazy and not do their chores, I remind them a couple times – but I don’t nag. And they don’t get any money.
They’ve learned very quickly that they can earn a lot of money each week (up to $7) by doing all of their chores each day. And they love the reward for their good work. Some weeks they earn around $5. Other weeks they’re lucky if they earn 50 cents.
With this method – when they’re motivated to earn some money – I get help around the house.
I fully intend on making many of the chores mandatory the older they get, but for now this solution works really well for our family.
The importance of age-appropriateness
Every child is different. And every family is different. So if you’ve been getting all pinchy-faced and panicky because your 2-year-old hasn’t been completing a chore chart you found on Pinterest, chances are the chores aren’t developmentally appropriate for your child.
Don’t sweat it.
You’ll have plenty of time to help guide your children and teach them how to help out around the house. Just wait until the time is right. Then guide and teach to your heart’s content.
If your children are older, when did you teach your children to clean? What worked well for your family? What didn’t?
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All images courtesy of Pixabay.