One of the challenges we all face as parents is that as our kids get older, having them help out around the house can become an ever-increasing challenge. Between cries of I’m tired or I’m too busy, to I forgot or simply I don’t want to, the struggle is real and I’m here to tell you I sympathise entirely.
In our household, Master 14 and Miss 11 are no different to the average kids. Most kids have something that they can’t get enough of or want to do all the time, and this can range from kicking a footy outside, avidly reading books, playing with Lego or sitting on a technological device.
Anybody who has followed me for a while knows how much my 14 year old is into gaming. At one time it was so much bad we felt he was bordering on having an addiction and we had to apply some strategies to break those habits. My 11 year old though, loves her tech too. With her iPad she is loving access to Disney and Netflix, whilst being able to hang out online with friends and play Roadblox and Among Us. Reality is, in our house, in these times, technology features significantly, as does their desire to partake in it, seemingly at the exclusion of all other chores, including taking care of basic hygiene and not having a bedroom that looks like a scene out of World War Z.
It goes without saying that this situation wasn’t good enough for my wife and I and so we went to work looking for ways of motivating or encouraging our kids to focus on what we felt were important tasks (you know, like dental hygiene) first before providing them the room to do the things they wanted to do. To that end we borrowed different techniques from a range of resources to come up with a hack that works for us. Today I want to share this with you, in the hope that it may help at least some of you like it has us.
How Does It Work?
So our system is pretty simple. We break the required tasks into 2 distinct groups. The first is necessary tasks. Things on this list range from basic hygiene, cleaning rooms, practising piano or singing, doing homework etc. In effect things that must be done and are non-negotiable, you know, what we do as adults!!
The second group is chores. Now we found the key to this part of the tool, was to have the kids involved in the process. Together we came up with all the things that need to be done around the house to provide for an environment that WE ALL would enjoy living in. Obviously, the list would vary from family to family and I very much encourage you to create one unique to your family. Our list includes things like, packing and unpacking the dishwasher, vacuuming each level of the house, raking the leaves off of the lawn and cleaning a bathroom. Once we compiled that list, we allocated point values to each chore. Again, we did this as a collective group and had a lot of fun negotiating with the kids around the value of each. They obviously wanted to inflate the value and we wanted to make the chores we didn’t want to do higher so they were more likely to pick them!!
So, having completed the two parts we then set out the rules which were that every one of the necessary tasks had to be completed AND 50 points had to be accrued to be able to go onto their device or console. The kids have complete autonomy over which chores they choose and we are not dictators when it comes to the quality of the job done, simply because we do not want to destroy any goodwill around this system.
For us it works very well. The kids know what is expected of them and it is a system that they have helped develop, which provides for ownership on their behalf as well. That’s not to say we haven’t had to have words about not following the rules that we set as a family and they haven’t suffered consequences such as time without their device, however because they were involved, they appreciate that they have stuffed up and it’s not just us being nasty parents.
My advice is just to be flexible (we’ve sat down several times and renegotiated point values) and be inclusive, whilst also being consistent when it comes to consequences if the rules aren’t followed. Hopefully this has helped you. Maybe you have something different that works for you and I would love to hear it. As parents we need to support each other and sharing tips and tricks that work for us is a great way of doing just that!!
Take care and good luck