Chores are boring. Soooo boring. And they are the very worst part of summer except for the fact that they occupy your children for the five minutes that they’re doing them.
Chores are so obviously boring that if you try to convince your kids otherwise, they will grow up believing you are a liar. That, or delusional (which may be more true). So it really is better to just state the fact of things, which is that living is a bit of work and we’ve got to get used to it. You don’t need to bring up the part about “teaching responsibility” because, though true, they don’t care and you will sound like a grown-up.
Here’s a few things I’ve found helpful when it comes to chores:
Variety. We get bored doing the same thing over and over and our kids are no different. We’ve had a good, solid chore arrangement in place through the school year, but we’re just tired of it.
Creativity. Doing chores might not be the highlight of your kids’ summer, but I guarantee there’s room for fun. Whether it’s breaking up chores into small pieces, doing competitions or being silly while assigning chores, run with whatever creative whims come your way. Your kids will go with it, even if it makes no sense or isn’t cool enough to put on Pinterest.
Incentive. The other word for this is “bribery”. We all need motivation to do things that are hard and un-fun — and we often need consequences for when we don’t do them.
Agreement. Buy-in is the very best motivator for your kids. As the parent, you can impose your chore demands and make life miserable for them if they don’t comply; running a household can be like operating your own miniature dictatorship. But if you can help your kids to see the value of their chores and provide them options for taking responsibility, they can have buy-in to the idea. Mutual agreement is the Most Valuable Player in parenting.
Cooperation. Families are teams. We each have a role to play to get the job done and kids need to know that they’re a valuable part of the team. Model a commitment to helping each other out, even when it’s “not your job”.
And the full 2014 Summer Chore Draft coverage:
Step 1: Make a list.
I made a list of all the things that need to be done, focusing especially on the things that don’t get done that drive me bananas, since crazy moms are not fun. Then I categorized the chores: “take care of yourself and your stuff” chores (yes, my children still need to be reminded to brush their teeth), daily household chores, twice a week household chores and weekly household chores.
Here is a list of chores that need to be done in our household and can be easily done by my 7-11 year olds.
Step 2: Put on costumes and get team names.
We all went to the costume box and put on our favorites and pick our team names. Here, I present the Jasmine Bubbles (ooo! scary!), the Karah Dolphins (ooo! also scary — oh, wait, that’s an actual NFL team name) and the Isaiah Weirdos.
And I got my very best League Commissioner look on: (also scary)
Step 3: Hold the draft.
We held several rounds of draft picks per category. After selecting, the “team” would sign their new chore. The “take care of yourself” chores were all the same, but we made sure that no one is doing a household chore (other than dishes) that they did during the past school year. We need variety — and we need to learn new skills.
Congratulatory ceremonies were also held.
Step 4: The Signing Bonus
As a reward for taking responsibility for their chores, we get to play. Each day we’ll do something fun and each week we’ll be working towards a reward activity that has an expense. We have agreed that we would self-start and get our work done by 9 am, at which time we’d have breakfast and tea and get to play the rest of the day. Getting to participate in the day’s activities — whether it’s the everyday fun stuff or the reward activity — will depend on completion of chores.
Here is a list of summer fun ideas that we’ll be referring to — and adding to — as the summer goes on. Activities preceded by ‘$’ are the reward activities they earn with chore responsibility.
We also have an “Earn Rocks/Earn Money” program. I have a list of unclaimed chores, ones that are really not so fun. Like weeding. When someone does not take responsibility for their chores — if it is not done completely or if I’m having to constantly remind them to do it — then they earn a rock; after ten rocks, they get a chore off the unclaimed chore list. If, however, they choose to do a chore off the unclaimed chore list, they will be paid for it.
Step 5: The Big Game
With the chores assigned, I created a chart for each kid and put them in plastic sleeves so they can sign off on their chores with dry erase markers.
When we start this chore system after school ends, I know the first couple weeks will be rough and bumpy. They are familiar with the chores they’ve been assigned, but investing a few extra minutes of explaining and training and doing with for the first couple weeks pays off big time long term.