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A Cleaner World Blog

Assigning Chores to your Kids

Today Gray turned 13, and overall, he’s a terrific kid. He attends a demanding school where he makes fantastic grades; he plays soccer and runs cross country; he’s kind-hearted; he’s respectful; but he does have flaws – he’s pretty messy and unhelpful around the house, plus he’s easily distracted. Over the years, I’ve assigned him various jobs, and I’ve had to fire him from a few jobs too -- watering the herbs (for overwatering and killing them), walking the dog (she won’t do her business for him), and bringing his dinner plate into the kitchen (he lets the dog lick the plate on the way.)

While I want him to be a kid, I also want him to both learn how to do things for himself and to know that a household doesn’t just run itself. As I started delegating tasks, I learned some valuable lessons over the years.

  1. Don’t insist on perfection. This is a hard one for me, given my tendency to be both a control-freak and a clean-freak, but I remind myself that it’s more about teaching than every blade of grass being cut perfectly.
  2. Choose jobs you can do together. For instance, Matt asks Gray to wash his car and then fusses about areas he missed. Gray and I always wash my car together; that way, I can offer tips and guidance as we go.
  3. Be sure to offer plenty of praise. One of Gray’s regular jobs is to vacuum my car, and that’s because he and his friends are typically the ones that drag in the dirt and grass. He does a fantastic job, and I always make sure I tell him with words of affirmation, a big hug, and sometimes a handful of M&M’s from the candy jar.
  4. Make sure your instructions are clear. There is always a learning curve with any new project. The first time Gray vacuumed the car, he failed to vacuum the storage area in the back – you know the area where the back door pops up and kids throw all their stuff. Once I explained that area was included, he never missed it again.
  5. Delegate age-appropriate chores. He uses a shop-vac to vacuum out the car, and I just assumed he’d understand how the vacuum cleaner works. So, one afternoon I asked him to vacuum his room. Shortly after the vacuum cleaner was turned on, I heard a funny noise followed by, “MOM!” You would think that a 10-year-old would know not to run over the cord.
  6. Try not to micromanage. This is a difficult one for me as well; after all, not micromanaging cost me a vacuum cleaner, but I try to put myself in his shoes. I don’t like it when someone stands over me as I perform a task. While I’ve had to purchase herbs more than once and buy a new vacuum cleaner, I remind myself that this is how he learns. When cleaning mishaps do occur, A Cleaner World is here to help, with everything from household item cleaning to wedding gown preservation!

There are all kinds of ways kids can help lighten the load, and it’s a terrific way to both teach and include children. In January we’ll provide a list of age-appropriate chores for your review.

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