Have you been wondering how to get your kids involved at home? How to encourage age appropriate responsibilities that the kids look forward to? Maybe this is something you’d like to do but don’t know how to get started or maybe you tried to implement a chore chart without success? Whatever the situation, you’ve got this.
In this post, I share why getting your kids helping at home is a game changer (for you and for them) and how to get started.
How to Get Your Kids Involved at Home in 5 Steps
When I started this post (and this blog), I told myself that I would help parents make positive changes at home. I know how difficult (and overwhelming) it can be to change things up when you’re used to a certain way. That’s why I’ve broken this down into 5 steps: Banish the myths; Get organized; Plan it out; Show them; Let go.
Know that you don’t have to do all these steps in one day. Take your time going through these steps and really committing to the process of getting your kids involved at home.
Step 1: Banish the Myths
It’s easy to come up with a myriad of reasons not to get kids involved at home. Let’s go over some of these myths and get to the reasons why it’s worth the extra time and effort.
Myth #1: Kids hate chores. Kids do not hate. Adults hate. Period. If children hate, it’s because they've learned to from adults. Kapeesh?
Really though, kids don’t hate chores. They may not like the way adults ask them to do chores or the way adults micromanage them while doing house chores, but they don’t hate the actual work.
Adults hate chores. We think of house chores as work and we think of work as being negative. Work doesn’t have to be this way. Work can be fun, fulfilling and make you feel awesome and alive. Responsibilities (or chores) can have the same effect on kids.
Kids love contributing to the family life. They thrive off being purposeful. We all do. We don’t want to do busy work. We want to do work with a real tangible purpose that we can see and experience. Housework is a great way to get kids doing purposeful work, which leaves kids feeling grounded and good about themselves.
Myth #2. Kids can’t do this work. Kids can definitely do age appropriate responsibilities and they want to.
Adults only need to trust and believe in children. We also need to make sure that the environment is set up accordingly and that we have shown them what to do. They may be little, but they are amazingly capable! It can be difficult to remember this truth. Kids are capable! We need to believe and trust in our kids be it in our homes or in the classroom. This is the first step to changing things up.
Once you show them and empower them to take over that responsibility, they will do it.
Myth #3: There isn’t enough time for kids to help out. The good old "there isn’t enough time" myth. There is always enough time for the things that we truly want to do. We make the time. It may be a little difficult at the beginning and require getting really organized, but it’s definitely possible.
Myths banished. Bam! Once you can do this, you are ready for change.
Step 2: Get Organized
It’s easy to have the best intentions to do something, but it can be tricky to actually put it into practice. It requires belief and trust, but it also requires getting organized. Things aren’t going to change unless you look at what isn’t working and see how it can change.
I’ve included an activity below to help you get organized, so you can get your kids involved at home.
Write out a list of chores that you currently do in the mornings, afternoons and evenings.
Circle all those responsibilities that the kids can do solo if you showed them how.
For the items that are not circled, you are going to write out an aspect that the kids can help with if an adult was present. If preparing dinner is on the list, then you could write out wash the vegetables, mix the salad, mash the potatoes, etc.
Awesome! You’re half way there! Busting those myths and really thinking of how to give children responsibility can be the hardest parts. Now, it’s about getting started and keeping it going.
Step 3: Plan It Out
At this point, you know exactly what chores the children can do alone and what chores the kids can do with you. Now, you’re going to do some planning for the week. Look at the responsibilities you circled and decide when the best time is for the kids to do these tasks.
Half the battle is being organized. I hear that often and have experienced it myself. It’s not that we don’t think the kids can help, it’s that there isn’t enough time for them to help. So how do you create the time? You get organized and you create a schedule that allows them enough time to help. The way that we schedule out our day, well, we can schedule out their day too. I don’t mean overschedule their days with a million different activities. Instead, schedule out time that allows them to do certain things without rushing (maybe while you’re preparing dinner or just when the kids come home from school, etc.). Kids take longer than us, so let’s give them the time to do a task and concentrate without being interrupted.
It’s about getting organized and planning it out so you can make it happen.
Step 4: Show Them
At this point, you know the chores that can be done and the best times for the kids to do them. Now it’s about showing them how, so they can own those responsibilities.
It can be a little more work at the beginning, but it is well worth it in the long run. You’ll want to make sure you know what responsibility you are going to show them and almost do a run through of how you are going to show them. It sounds funny, but practicing a chore so that your child can do it is very different than you doing the actual chore.
If you are going to show them how to water the plants, think of the different steps that go into that task. What items does the chore require? Do you need to get any child-sized tools? What steps does a child need to do vs. an adult?
For example, I would use a clear watering cup and put a large piece of green tape to show the child not to fill the cup higher than the tape. I would also have them feel what dry soil feels like vs. wet soil. I would briefly explain that we have to be careful not to give the plant too much water otherwise the water will overflow. I would show them how to carefully pour the water and how we wait to let the plant soak up the water before pouring more. This is an extensive example but I wanted to give you an idea of all the info that we can give young children.
TIP: Remember to show them using slow motions and without talking (otherwise they are watching your mouth and not your hands). For more tips like this, check out my post on cooking with kids.
Know that you can start with 1 task a week and show your kids what they will take turns doing every day. You don’t have to do everything all at once.
I want you all to succeed in your homes big time, so I’ve shared a complimentary list of age appropriate responsibilities for children to help you get started.
Age Appropriate Responsibilities to Get Your Kids Involved at Home
These are activities that I have done with kids. Some of these tasks require adult supervision while other tasks only need the parent to help get the process started and then give the child space to practice (some of these activities require child size materials).
18 months – 2.5/3 years -Sort darks and whites and load washing machine, move clothes from washer to dryer, collect dirty clothes -Scrub table with sponge or small brush -Prepare their own simple snacks throughout the day like spreading cream cheese on crackers, slicing hardboiled egg, slicing banana, etc. -Water plants -Compost -Recycle -Wash dirty dishes -Set the table -Bake muffins or simple items that involve pouring ingredients into bowl, mixing and mashing -Scrub potatoes -Clean window with squeegee and water
3-5 years -Do all of the above chores but now with more control -Squeeze citrus for salad dressings, fresh juices, etc. -Make more complicated snacks that involve greater gross and fine motor work (like chopping celery, spreading peanut butter and placing raisins) -Sort clean laundry if given an example like matching socks together -Fold napkins, towels, cloths and child-sized clothing -Prepare and pack their lunch -Help prepare meals with adult -Sweep the floor with broom and then use dustpan -Sort clean silverware and pack away -Rinse all sorts of veggies and fruits -Help with gardening and pulling weeds
Step 5: Let Go
The final step is being able to let go (this can be a tough one). Most of us are used to keeping our families going. We keep everyone organized and keep the home functioning. It’s a big job and can be stressful at times.
I used to feel this pressure a ton in the classroom. I wanted to keep everything perfect. I wanted the kids to do their work and I wanted everything to remain clean and tidy. It just wasn’t realistic. Part of giving kids responsibility is letting go. That means letting go of the perfect idea you have in your mind about how something is done or how something looks. It means trading the perfectly chopped veggies you made for dinner with your child’s chopped veggies that took an hour longer. It means trading the way you fold the cloths for the way your child does.
You're trading off your particulars to see a child grow as a person. It’s worth the awkwardly cut veggies that may or may not have their saliva on them (and other things) and for the differently folded cloths. Totally worth it.
Kids are extremely capable. Once we show them how to do something and allow them the space to work, they surprise us with how capable they are!
I’d love to hear from you! How do you get your kids involved at home? What responsibilities do they enjoy?
If your kids already do some awesome house chores or they are about to get started, take a pic and share it on Instagram with #kidsarecapable.
Keep well, S