As a homeschooling mother of three very active kids, I’m constantly cleaning something. I have a loose rotating schedule of weekly chores that are my responsibility but one that is not mine is cleaning the toys of my children. But, I often take over this task in a desire to get it done quickly and I do a disservice to myself, my children and their peers later on in life. I’m stealing a moment to teach responsibility. Sure, at times, it’s easier and quicker (and done better) if I do it myself. Yet I’m teaching them or not teaching them skills they will need later in life. And, let’s be honest…no one needs encouragement to be lazy or let someone else do it. We breed that within ourselves.
How can we as parents encourage this responsibility? I’ve found two ways that work particularly well with my kids. The first has been chores for cash. These are extra jobs they can take from me in exchange for some cash. These aren’t their chores or ones I expect from them. These are my chores that they can partake in for payment. This includes dusting, washing mirrors, vacuuming, moping and doing laundry that isn’t theirs. This is a great help to me for a small fee…but it allows them to learn so many things about finances, economy and the principles of work. The down side to this is your kids have to be old enough to want money to buy things. They have to make the connection between the toy at the store they want and the number of chores they need to do to get it.
The other one I use is the toy ransom box. I confess, I forget this one all the time, but tonight I brought it back out. The premise is after they have been told to clean up, the stray items they “overlooked” get placed in the ransom box and they have to draw a chore from a grab bag to get it out. I’ve got about 20 chores on strips of paper in a zip lock bag ranging from true chores to things like “Rub mom’s back for 10 minutes and tell her how thankful you are she sweeps every day.” The hilarious thing about this is, at least for my kids now, they love redeeming their toys! They enjoy both the challenging chores and the funny ones I have mixed in. I get the benefit of having more chores done (some quiet educational for them, like this one in the photo) and they learn more responsibility.
Responsibility isn’t something kids learn without us teaching it. Unfortunately for us, it takes effort, planning, willingness and our own responsibility to them to teach it. Hopefully, some of these ideas will help spark some creative and simple ways to implement in your house too.