Our very first question!:) Yay! I love telling people what to do!
Ok, this person asked me in person, and said I could answer online.
The question What can I do to get my kids to do their chores? It’s always such a big fight.
The answer: Chores are actually the bane of my existence and I do not love (aka hate) getting my kids to do them. I would rather send them all away for several hours and do the stupid jobs myself. BUT. Then the kids learn that someone else cleans up after them. They learn that moms/wives are there for their convenient serving pleasure. They never learn that underpants live either a) on your body for ONE day only, or b) in the hamper or c) in the drawer. I know without chores, my kids would believe that dirty clothes live under the bed, living, working and having babies, and shopping in tiny shopping malls under the bed in a secret world.
SO. First, think what it is you want done. What are you willing to let kids do? Make a list of jobs that are regularly done around the house. If you need help, there are many ready made job lists online, but I suggest walking through your house and jotting down the jobs associated with each room. Now, go back and label each job with a child’s initial (or age). Kids 8 and up can vacuum, and sweep. I let mine use Windex, but not much else in the way of chemicals. Around here, you have to be 12 to use cleanser or Pinesol, and only adults are allowed to touch the Bleach. (unless you like light yellow polka dots on EVERYTHING). After you have decided by yourself (as in, don’t ask the kids for their input) what the kids could be doing, consider a chart. There are many fine examples online, suitable for many age groups. I personally eschew the cutsie crap and go straight for an Excel-like chart with no frills. But, my kids are older and have come to realize that no matter how cute the sticker or how colorful the chart, cleaning the toilet still sucks.
Make the chart and assemble the troops. Explain that you have many jobs and cannot be responsible for the messes of older children.
Some advice by me:
*Do not pay your children to do chores. They live there too, and I don’t think kids should be paid to participate in family maintenance operations.
*Do not punish (per se) for unfinished chores. I suggest, “When you have finished your jobs, you are free to ….(hang out, play, watch tv, whatever) move on with your life.”
*After chores have been done, do a mom-through (like a walk-through) and check for doneness. I suggest, at least initially, copious complimenting on aspects well-done. On the parts less well done (or half-a**ed, as someone I know says) say, “Hey, before you finish in here, could you be sure to do (unfinished chore here). Thanks:)”
Randomly pick a child, every few weeks or so, take them aside and tell them how much their cooperation means to you. Reward with small treat once in a while, or an extra 5 bucks for the mall. Do NOT give big treats or rewards, we’re trying to express appreciation, not fund a shopping/candy/videogame spree.
*Remember they are children, and no job they do will be done as well as you could do it. They will not do it your way most of the time, and will do it wrong most of the time. The point is that they are learning, and with any luck they will have a bunch of kids who never do what they say either.