The Mental Militia Forums

Special Interest => Parenting => Topic started by: mouse on May 20, 2015, 03:47:36 am

Title: Chores for kids
Post by: mouse on May 20, 2015, 03:47:36 am
We have our three grandchildren, plus their 29 year old father now - our son.  It is a strange situation, the older two Conner 7 and Samantha nearly 6 are "ours" permanently ("home for life" which we had to go to court to get) and our son Andy has custody of Aidan, who is 3.  It works out OK usually, but sometimes I feel that we have four children living with us (aged from 3 to 29) and although I try to "blur the line" the kids are picking up that "Nanna and Granddad are in charge of the older two and Aidan has his own Dad".  I hope that doesn't get to be a problem when they are older.

Anyway, that's not the point.  The thing is that I have realised that some other kids their ages (not all of them unfortunately) have regular household chores to do.  I think that at least Conner at the age of 7 is old enough to do a lot of things.  He is quite willing (as long as he's in the mood) to "help" with just about anything.  However, it takes a lot of patience to do something with him "helping" as he is very argumentative about things, won't listen to "it has to be done this way" and wants to do it "his way" and he is very meticulous about some things and it takes a lot of time for him to do anything worthwhile. 

A few days ago I asked the kids to put away all the shoes (they were all scattered around the front of the house).  They went down to do so when Samantha came rushing back beaming, shouting "Granddad already did it so we don't have to do it".  I said I would find them other jobs to do and sent Conner and Aidan to pick up all the rubbish on the section and ushered Samantha inside to "clean the toilet" - she was absolutely thrilled at that.  She did a surprisingly good job, and at one point said "we mustn't put our hands in the toilet Nanna because there's been poos in their", I just said "Honey, sometimes you just have to".  She immediately said OK and plunged her arm in.  I just left her to it and watched, it was fine until she used the bath mat to mop up water left over from the cleaning process and a bath towel to dry the toilet bowl and then poured almost an entire bottle of bleach down the sink to clean "that pipe with a bend in it, and I need so much cleaner to make sure it gets to the curved bit".  I think I'll wait until she's a bit older for that job.

I wondered if anyone can come up with some simple jobs (chores is probably a better word) that a five year old and a 7 year old can do.  The 3 year old is probably too young.  Is he? And do kids need chores?  Is it a good idea, or not?

Also, (it seems so long since my own kids were this young so I don't remember what we did) how do you overcome the "I can't be bothered doing that any more" that will inevitably come?

(Actually I do remember that my own son had a paper round for years and when he turned about 13 he got too lazy to do it and I made the mistake of doing it myself half the time.  In the end - after about two years - I got sick of it and rang up and cancelled "his job").
Title: Re: Chores for kids
Post by: knobster on May 20, 2015, 08:06:29 am
Our three kids (10, 8, 6) all have daily chores and weekly chores.  Daily they are supposed to keep their 'stuff' picked up: shoes, clothes, toys, etc and once a week is the deep cleaning of the house.  My wife rotates jobs so one isn't stuck with bathroom duty.  Dusting, sweeping, mopping, cleaning toilets, cleaning sinks, vacuuming, cleaning out cat liter box... I think that about covers all of them.  They are expected to do all of these things without (very much) grumbling.  Since my wife is usually tackling some of the other tasks it is very much a family effort.  So far so good.
Title: Re: Chores for kids
Post by: MamaLiberty on May 20, 2015, 08:39:26 am
What the children are able to do depends so much on their level of development, maturity, motor skills and attitude. It's hard to make any specific recommendations, but I'll outline a bit of what I did.

When my first son was three, we had just moved to our little "farm." There were obviously a good many chores he was simply too young to do, but I managed to find some.  I would put an egg or two into a small basket and have him carry them to the house while I carried the rest of them. He dropped them a few times, of course, but soon he could be relied on to carry a good many of the eggs safely. He especially loved to carry the goose eggs. He was terrified of the geese (good thing), and was just SOOOO impressed that his Mum was both able and willing to take the gigantic eggs away from them.

And some things were given him (both sons in time) to do strictly for training purposes. The boy was obviously too young to do much that was useful, but not too young to learn. For example, he was given potatoes, a big pan of water, and a scrub brush. The chore was to scrub the potatoes, and he had a marvelous time with it always. Water, mud and physical action... perfect.  He couldn't hurt the potatoes or himself, and gradually came to do that job well, very aware that those scrubbed potatoes (carrots, turnips, etc.) were then part of our dinner.

He was also given a wad of clean dishcloths and washrags. First I demonstrated how they were to be folded, and then helped him until he understood. He was then left to fold washrags and things himself, sitting up at the dining room table. Eventually, he got pretty good at folding clothes.

There are hundreds of things like that you can do with the very young, but it is a teaching thing and will take you as much or more time as doing the chore yourself. It's an investment of that time, of course, as later the children will be reliable to do these jobs themselves.

What you can do with older children who have not been taught much that way... hard to say. But you could start some of this teaching with chores appropriate to their age. Just give it to them in small bits. The command to "clean your room" means little to children and will only confuse them. Start with specific things, like pick up your clothes. Give them a big hamper or bin to put them in, then go through the clothing with them to sort the clean from the dirty or to be disposed of, using it as an opportunity to teach them one from another if they don't have a clear idea.

Then do the same with the toys. Sort the bin into what they want to keep and what can be discarded. My sister and I had lived with our aunt for a while after our father died. She didn't seem to care if we left our room a mess. But our mother was rather harsh in this and we soon learned to keep things picked up. She said that if we didn't care for something enough to put it away... then we didn't want it, and occasionally had it thrown out by the time we got home from school!!! Great incentive, even if there were many  hurt feelings until we actually believed she was serious. Didn't take long.

The three year old won't benefit too much from the room cleaning example, of course... not enough sense of object permanence. Things really don't mean much to them in the abstract, only in the moment. The seven year old, however, is old enough and should have the judgment to benefit from this teaching. It will take longer to teach it now, since he was not trained in any of it earlier, I suspect.

The key is to be consistent, and to stick to your guns. If they find they can wheedle and manipulate you into letting them slack, it will be harder and harder to get them to do anything at all. Match ability first, then interest, but don't let their lack of interest stop you from teaching them to work. It may be the most valuable thing you can give them in the end.

Hope this helps. :)
Title: Re: Chores for kids
Post by: Moonbeam on May 20, 2015, 10:50:40 pm
Mouse, introducing such responsibilities to your grand kid's is a wonderful thing - keep it up! Have you tried some more natural cleaning solutions, especially since the little ones will be involved? :)
Title: Re: Chores for kids
Post by: mouse on May 25, 2015, 04:20:59 am
Mouse, introducing such responsibilities to your grand kid's is a wonderful thing - keep it up! Have you tried some more natural cleaning solutions, especially since the little ones will be involved? :)

Yep!  I'm happy to say that with the help of five year old Samantha I cleaned the oven with baking soda and white vinegar.  We didn't get the oven racks properly clean - I think I need to spend a lot more time scrubbing them, it's just a case of finding time when someone isn't waiting to use the oven.  I figured that even if she (and I) neglected to wipe all the residue of the baking soda away, it wouldn't smell bad when the oven was turned on again.  I have always been lazy in the past and used chemicals on things like the oven, but I found that you really don't have to as the baking soda and vinegar did a surprisingly good job.  I don't think I will ever get commercial oven cleaners again.

Since the kids started helping with cleaning jobs, I have discarded just about all the chemicals that I used to use.  I don't feel quite up to cleaning the shower with anything else but bleach or "chemico" (one of those powder scourers) and I still use eucalyptus oil for cleaning sticky things like the marks left by sticky tape (there's a lot of that when the kids have been doing "art work").

Conner has decided that he wants to get paid (a friend of his says he gets paid for helping around the house) so I made a deal with him:  I gave him a dollar (for "good faith" - his words) and the promise of a dollar a week if he does all his jobs.  The only permanent job he has as yet is folding the washing and picking up the clothes discarded by the other kids and putting them in the washing bucket (I kept meaning to get a laundry basket but I've never got around to it).  Three year old Aidan has offered to pick up all the dog's dropping around the section but I'm not sure I want him to touch that, he might get carried away and play in it so I think I'll just do that one myself.

I've always known that you don't really need proper furniture polish to clean most furniture (especially as we don't have much that is worth polishing anyway) and I've always used the excuse that I use it because I like the smell of it, but I think I'll give that one up too.  Washing soda, baking soda, hot water and white vinegar clean most things I have found.  Got any ideas for getting stains out of kids clothes without using bleach or the commercial stain removers?

I don't really know much about natural cleaning solutions, so may I "pick your brains" on any ideas? (Or anyone else's brains for that matter)

(I blame my hormones for an obsession with the smell of cleaning products, as when I first got pregnant - about 100 years ago it seems now - and subsequent pregnancies, I had just two "cravings":  One for eating oranges and apricots - which were in season at the time and on display at the fruit shop across the road from where I worked - and one for the smell of soap and cleaning products.  I was a total weirdo, I used to go to all three supermarkets near where I lived at the time and walk up and down the soap aisle, smelling the soap and other products).
Title: Re: Chores for kids
Post by: Moonbeam on May 28, 2015, 01:55:47 pm
White vinegar is awesome! I use that on so many household cleaning needs. Nothing cleans mirrors and glass better. I fill a spray bottle with 4 parts filtered water and 1 part vinegar. Look into using baking soda and Borax and castile soap, like Dr. Bronners. There are plenty of natural recipes online. If you are on Pinterest try there, too.

I came across an interesting idea regarding chores/allowance recently. This mom gives her kids an allowance once a month. The dollar amount is based on their age. For example, her nine year-old receives $9 a month. The kids are required to put away 10% for tithing and 10% for savings. The rest is for them to use with a little guidance from their parents. The kids, with mom's help, keep a ledger of how much they spend and where. It gets them used to money, spending, saving, budgeting, etc. As for chores, they don't get paid for that as they are expected to do chores. Another mom doesn't call them chores; the kid's charts are titled, "How I Contribute To My Family."

At first glance we like the ideas and are discussing how that might look for our household. Will keep you posted as we progress along this line.

The key MOUSE, is to find what works for your situation. Don't give up; be consistent; be in charge, but hold them responsible for things that they can be held accountable for; establish rewards for the behaviors you want to reinforce; have a heart that is ready to forgive; and keep a sense of humor!
Title: Re: Chores for kids
Post by: Splash22 on April 13, 2016, 08:39:16 am
I've found apple cider vinegar in additional to it's tremendous health properties(when taken properly internally) is a wonder around the house.
I keep a spray bottle with 3/4 water. Glass, counters, fridge. W. Vingegar, cheap hair conditioner and water also make a great fabric softener!
Title: Re: Chores for kids
Post by: sherryvan on January 11, 2019, 12:14:37 am
I am 30 this year, the mother of a 6-year-old child.
Take a look at what my child can do.
Clean the shoe rack ( and table under supervision.
Helping parents prepare food.
Matching socks after washing clothes
Responsible for pet food and water bowls.
Clean the floor with a dry mop. :mellow:

He really does a good job. :mellow: so proud of him.
Title: Re: Chores for kids
Post by: casca-503 on April 22, 2019, 11:02:29 pm
teach   them   to   help   and   be    will   carry   them   far   in   life....