Parenting Tip: How I Use Chores to Keep My Kids Motivated
As a mother of 8, I’m continually on the look out for new ways to keep my household running. I know I’m not alone in this… even if you’ve only got one child at home, there are still messes to be cleaned up, food to prepare, laundry to wash, hugs to be given… the list is endless! One thing I try and teach my children is that privileges are earned… they aren’t entitled to them.
Teaching my kids to work is something that is important to me. But it is one of those things that takes persistence and patience. So exactly how do I use chores/jobs to keep my kids motivated? There are many ways! I know that some will assign chores or jobs as consequences. Personally, I don’t like to associate “work” with “punishment”. I want my kids to associate “work/jobs/chores” with “earning” and “effort”.
So here is how it works in my house…
- Every morning my kids have a list of responsibilities. My kids at home range from under 1 year old to 16. Another day I’ll share with you how we divide up all the household responsibilities, but for now I’ll just let you know that my children do a LOT around the house… from their own laundry (starting at age 12) to making their own breakfast and lunch, to sweeping, cleaning, changing diapers, making bottles for the baby, babysitting, and so on.
- Once responsibilities are done, they get free time.
- If they break rules, they lose privileges.
- Depending on the severity of the offense, I will provide ways for them to earn privileges back.
Privileges in my house are defined as:
- Xbox (they are super motivated to play this game right now… they all pitched in and bought it together)
- TV (we love our Amazon Fire TV)
- Reading (NOTE: some of my children LOVE reading… at times, when they are sucked in a good book, they are very motivated to do things in order to earn a book back. If your kids don’t love to read then this might be on their responsibilities list).
Think of this as one way to get your house clean:
Now keep in mind, this is just one fun way to distribute jobs to the kids. Find something that works for you… but make sure it doesn’t turn into a power struggle. Keep it at level zero mama!
We use this chore can to provide a way to “earn something back”. Having this “3rd party” will really help minimize the power struggle. In fact, there shouldn’t be one at all. If they want something bad enough, they can do the work to get it back. This is also a great system to use if your kids want to earn extra screen time.
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The Chore Can
This is just one easy method that you can quickly put together… and even enlist the help of your children! The jobs on these sticks are the non-daily (and even non-weekly) jobs that need to get done. These are all those little extra things that usually get pushed to the bottom of the list because they aren’t urgent (cleaning walls, baseboards, cleaning out the car…). This is a great way to get those “extras” done, give your children opportunities to earn privileges back, and learn some hard work.
- One empty can
- Popsicle sticks
- Permanent markers or fine tip marker
- Scrapbook paper
- Hot glue gun
- Washi tape
- Gift tag (optional)
Take your empty, clean can (label removed) and cut scrapbook paper to place around the exterior of it. First, cut the height. You can then wrap the paper all the way around the can, and mark where it needs to be cut. Cut, and then, hot glue the paper onto the can. Sometimes, if you hunt around, you can find a decorative pencil/pen holder that would work just as well as decorating your own can.
Take your popsicle sticks, and add washi tape to one end of each stick. This forms a “top” of each stick.
The last thing to do is use permanent markers to write one chore on each popsicle stick. For some reason, the marker was bleeding into the wood too much, thought I have not had that problem in the past. You can see the top popsicle stick in the picture was written on with a regular permanent marker. So, I decided to use a fine tip marker I had on hand. Fill the can with the popsicle sticks, washi-side up.
Your chore can is now ready to use. When your child wants to earn privileges, have said child choose a stick that has the washi tape up. They don’t get to read the sticks and decide what job they want to do. They just have to grab one and do whatever job is on the stick. When your child completes the job on the popsicle stick, flip the stick over, so the washi tape is on the bottom. This way, the same job is not repeated too frequently. Once most or all of the jobs have been completed, flip all the sticks washi-side up and start over.
This is a really simple project that will take half an hour and very little money, but leave you with a great system that can be used in several different ways!