Your child is finally old enough to chip in with some of the housework. Now you can finally sit back and relax while they scrub toilets, right?
If only it were that simple …
In reality, sometimes getting our teens to do chores can be more work than just doing them ourselves. And the Pandemic has changed the dynamics of our daily life drastically, making us feel like we have all spent a little too much time together. It can fray our nerves and theirs too.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
There is a silver living to the new routines and structure we have adapted too since COVID 19 broke out. Instead of it resulting in more time you have to spend cleaning because your children are home more to make more messes, it could be an opportunity to become a better team as a family.
First off, it is worth the work to teach our children to do housework during any season.
Having children doing chores at home is a crucial part of raising successful, confident adults who become productive and diligent members of their generation. When giving them a cleaning chore, you are letting them know you trust and count on them.
Also, as the Pandemic has forced us to stay inside together, it also can lead to us drawing our attention to our children, our family and our relationships at home. We all have newfound roles and responsibilities. That includes our children.
It does take a little bit of effort and patience at the beginning to instill these habits in them and shift the focus to a more positive light. We do need to dedicate effort to create a lifestyle that brings our family together as a force working toward order and harmony in the home - especially during a Pandemic.
Here are a few tips on how to have your teens involved in the housework.
1. Start early
The earlier that children start learning to pick up or do chores, the easier this process will be. You will find that your child will fight back less if chores were always part of “what we do” at home vs if they never had chores and suddenly find themselves with a list. Even toddlers can help out with simple tasks such as moving laundry to the drier or picking up toys.
That said, if you didn’t ask your child to help out until they are a teen or adolescent, it’s ok. Now is the second-best time to start.
Use this extra time at home to reset. Have a family meeting where you talk together about ways you can create new routines and start new habits now that you are all working from home, doing online learning and have fewer commitments outside the home.
2. Pick the chores they are best suited to do.
Try to keep in mind where they are developmentally when coming up with a chores plan. Start with simple chores and gradually add to their responsibilities over time.
Remember to give them chores that challenge them, but that they are able to complete to your standard. If it is something that is extremely difficult for them to do, they might get discouraged and give up. Keeping it manageable will give them wins from the beginning.
Still, children are often capable of more than we give them credit for. By the time they are teens, they are able to do almost any chore you can do. They just might need a little direction and coaching.
Choose chores that have immediate and /or visible results such as organizing their drawers. Emphasize how nice and clutter-free everything looks once the chore is complete.
The best regular chores for teens include:
Washing the dishes
Cleaning out the fridge
Cleaning up the kitchen after a meal
Setting the table
Washing bedding and put back on beds
Include them on cleaning or organization sessions that are seasonal or periodic.
Assign them a drawer to edit through. Start with the bathroom as they accumulate more products. Have a trash bag on hand for them to dispose of their items and cleaning wipes for the sink.
Dedicate a bin for your teen to throw in donations ranging from old clothes to old toys or games at their convenience. Giving your kids the freedom to purge when and what they want gives them a sense of control.
Especially in a season of being home more often, your teens will feel the relief of having their space in better order, just as you do.
3. Make cleaning habitual.
Choose a certain time frame or day each week that they must complete their chores by. Make it something that you do regularly. If chores are part of your weekly schedule, getting pre-teens or teens to do them will be less of a fight.
4. Don’t be a dictator.
As frustrating as it is seeing your kids drag their feet, try to stay patient but firm. Impose an all-in attitude, where all members of the household are contributing to daily chores not because Mom will get mad if you don’t, but because you are a team.
Try your best to not correct what they’ve done in order to maintain their positive psychological benefits from chores. That said, gently show them the right way to do the task if they are missing the mark.
5. Make it rewarding.
Try to find ways to celebrate their wins in a way that helps them know you are proud of them and also allows time together as a family. For example, create a punch card that you punch each time they complete a chore. Once they complete 10 chores, reward them with planning a day of their favorite activities and meal spots.
You can also include an allowance that they receive only if they do their assigned chores.
Find ways to make chores emulate real-world experiences that they will inevitably face when they no longer live with you. Use this as a teaching time.
Chores are an important part of growing up and are beneficial for your children. Don't skip them to save them from extra work or to avoid power struggles.
The Pandemic has brought about new roles and structures in our lives that we could use to establish a healthier family dynamic where everyone is pitching in. The whole family will benefit as you make routine and cleanliness a habit - long after the Pandemic is over.
The organizational and cleaning skills you teach your children now will be invaluable for the rest of their lives.
Looking for a way to keep your family on track with cleaning? Download our free Cleaning Schedule and Checklist.