As a parent I'm sure the last thing you want to do is to overwhelm your kids, but you want them to do chores. It's important to teach kids important life skills like picking up after themselves and helping to keep a house clean.
Chores are something that we do every weekend at our house (well, almost every weekend…once in awhile if we have a really busy weekend planned they will get overlooked). But it's so easy for the kids to get overwhelmed with chores, especially when they have a huge task to do like cleaning their room.
But I've found a few tips that help keep doing chores manageable. This way, chores get completed with much less whining and yelling (from the kids as well as the parents!).
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I explain in this post over at Your Modern Family just exactly how we do it at our house, and would you believe that our kids actually race around the house to get their chores done? It's true!
Here are tips for getting your kids to do chores without overwhelming them in the process.
Of course the first step is making sure the chore is age appropriate for the child. There are many age appropriate chore charts online if you need ideas. The surest way to overwhelm a child is to give them a task that is too much for them. So if they're having trouble, it might not mean that they're deliberately being defiant, but that the task is really too hard.
Secondly, make sure they have a step by step process. Simplify it as much as possible. I will actually tell my kids: #1, do this. #2, do that. And so on. Breaking each chore down into a micro-task helps them focus on one aspect of the chore at a time and is less overwhelming.
Third, offer some type of reward. Now I'm not saying this has to be monetary compensation. It might be as simple as once chores are done we will all watch a movie, or play a game. But giving your kids something to look forward to goes a long way in encouraging them to get to work faster.
My kids bedrooms tend to get quite messy in during the week. So much so, that often times we put off cleaning them because we just don't want to spend an entire weekend cleaning!
I've found that when this happens, it's important to have a plan to get things back to normal. (Or at least livable conditions!)
Here's how to not overwhelm your kids and get them to actually clean their rooms.
Break the Room into Manageable Sections
Let them work on each section for a certain amount of time and then they get to take a break, or sometimes be done for the day and continue the next day.
The sections can vary depending on which parts of the room are actually messed up (even though it's usually all of it) but here's an example of what I mean.
Breakdown of kids bedroom
Note that this is how I have my girls clean their room. Your child's room might have or not have some of the things below so the actual process might look a little different. But most of these are good general tips.
Section one- Make beds and get blankets folded and stuffed animals in order. A Toy Hammock is a great way to get all the stuffed animals organized and put away. Shelves and storage bins also work well.
Section two– Clean all around the bed. Put toys, clothes, etc. in their proper places. Make sure kids have enough storage to put toys away easily. A great way to do this is either with a toy box or toy bins. You can even use plastic tubs, anything that will help keep the toys off the floor and organized.
Section three– Organize and clean up craft/art area. (This is a major project in itself as my middle daughter loves crafting and has tons of stuff in a small space.) A drawer organizer on wheels can be really handy for craft storage.
Section Four– Clean off and organize dressers. This includes putting away toys that don't belong there. I usually make sure my girls have small bins or jewelry boxes to keep their things in rather than laying them loose on the dresser. They're less likely to get lost that way.
Section Five– Clean toys off main floor area and put them away. Pick up all garbage (usually scraps of paper and misc. crafting pieces).
Section Six– Put all clothes away. This means the drawers have to actually close all the way, no clothes hanging out! Hang up clothes that go in the closet.
Section Seven– Clean the closet. Although when it's really bad, the kids ask if they can ‘make a path'. They know mom wants to be able to walk in the closet without tripping on toys. You might consider a closet organizer for holding sweaters, jackets, jeans and even shoes.
Break down other rooms in the same manner
You can use this same method whether your kids are cleaning their bedroom, the living room, or kitchen. Heck even the bathroom! Break each room down into manageable sections. Of course rooms that aren't as messy won't take them days to complete obviously. But it still helps to break down any room into sections for cleaning. I don't know about your kids but mine respond way better when I give them step by step instructions of what do.
How to not overwhelm your kids with chores
They key here is to let them complete the tasks in chunks of time even if that means days (for bigger cleaning projects). For example, on Saturday I might have them do sections one, two, and five. Then they're done for the day. Then on Sunday they can do section four, or whatever. Sometimes I'll let them work on it for a couple weekends, or after school for a day or two.
The point is, it does get done eventually, but then the kids aren't spending an entire weekend working on their room, and mom isn't spending an entire weekend telling them to clean it up. They know that once their appointed sections done, they have free time, even if the whole room isn't clean yet.
And you know what? It's okay. Chores are important and a clean house is nice, but the well being of my children is more important. Breaking major chores down into manageable sections does take more time. But it also allows for more peace and calm in our household. Plus the kids don't get overwhelmed by the whole ordeal.
Do you have any tips on getting kids to do their chores? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!