Teaching your children to clean is important for parents. But WHEN is the best time to teach your children to clean?
Moms, are you feeling the pressure to teach your kids to clean?
Or do you simply wish to get more help around the house?
Since becoming a mom, I’ve noticed a lot of age-appropriate chore charts for children. Supposedly my 2- and 3-year-olds should have been able to:
- Put their toys away,
- Dress themselves,
- Clean up spills,
- Help clear the table,
- Make their beds, and
- 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 tried 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.
I tried and tried and tried again. Frustration bubbled up when I cajoled my toddlers into helping and they ended up making even bigger messes.
So for my own peace of mind (and because I was tired of being a screamy mommy), after I attempted 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 striking up a battle of wills on something like cleaning.
At the risk of spoiling my children and condemn them to life as slackers, I let them act their ages – and play.
Finding the right time
I never intended for my son and daughter to skate by for all of their childhoods, though. And now that they’re both school-aged, I’ve tried to add chores again.
This time around, 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.
And they’ve been even more eager to earn money for their work.
What’s the goal of parenting?
One of my main mindsets in parenting is figuring out ways to help my children become self-sufficient adults someday.
When it’s time for them each to leave home, they need to care for themselves and survive in the world.
Part of that care and survival means understanding that they need to know how 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 own 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.
Summer 2018 update: This spring my son finished 4th grade and my daughter finished 2nd grade. The allure of doing chores for money didn’t last long. Now they have their own chores – and they do them – just because they’re members of our family and everyone helps out. Sure, there’s a little resistance, but as they’ve gotten older my husband and I have talked with them about the importance of everyone helping out around the house. And it’s worked.
The best thing is they both actually do a really good job!
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.
Try different approaches that will fit the right season of life and development stage. 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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