Today my guest, Ann Kaplan, shares great tips on how to create a chore system for your family.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. It’s a refrain I hear from many moms and especially homeschoolers, who do so much all day to support their kids’ education. Sometimes it feels like we’re making a choice between nagging about school or nagging about everything else our kids need to be doing, and school wins almost every time. But, as a parent coach, I know that we don’t have to choose between effective education and nailing it in the rest of parenting. If we believe that chores and responsibility are a part of raising great kids, it’s worth it to incorporate an effective chore system into our families. But how?
When I started my coaching practice over ten years ago, I started out 100% focused on loving discipline techniques alone. But I learned quickly that it wasn’t enough; if a parent is emotionally drained and the family lacks structure, all the great parenting methods in the world can’t solve their challenges. Now I make sure to address three areas when I work with moms:
- Parenting Mindset (are you weighed down by mom guilt or feeling like you have to do it all?)
- Family Systems (routine, self-care practice, and home help are a few examples of systems elements)
- Effective Discipline (responses that empower kids while encouraging better behavior)
Moving forward in any one of these areas is impossible if the other two are neglected, and chores are no exception! Here are my tips in each of these areas to start on the right foot:
Tip #1: Mindset ~ See your kids as part of the ecosystem of your home
One of the best ways to maximize the odds of kids participating in something is if it is their idea in the first place. No one likes being bossed or dictated to, especially kids, so thinking of them as a valued member of the family can be a game changer. No matter what age your kids are, they can contribute to a conversation about chores and feeling heard will go a long way. Tell your kids you’ll be creating a chore system and ask if they’d like to help deciding what the chores will be and how the system will work.
Listen to everyone’s ideas (tip: write them down – your kids will see that you are taking them seriously) and acknowledge and thank them for sharing their thoughts. Make sure to include at least one of your child’s ideas in the final plan. If it’s hard to let your kids lead in some of these things, I totally get it! Here’s an excellent resource for switching into a listening mindset.
Tip #2: Family Systems ~ Create your chore system
Now that you’ve had your meeting and everyone has their head on straight, it’s time to create your chore system! Whether you decide to make a list, wheel, or chart, the most important thing is that everyone can see it and understand it. Use pictures for kids who aren’t yet reading, and prominently post your system so everyone can be accountable. Set clear expectations about when you will start with your new plan, how often chores need to be done, when they need to be done, etc. and then go for it!
Tip #3: Discipline ~ Expect and celebrate mistakes!
No matter how excited everyone is initially, the bloom will fall off the rose, and people will either forget or choose to ignore their responsibilities. How you react when that happens is what really determines whether your system will work. Kids learn best from experiences, so celebrate when they miss the mark; it creates the necessary opportunity for them to learn from experiencing the result of that choice.
Get ready for their mistakes with natural consequences delivered with compassion. It is very important that you follow through on expecting and enforcing chores. Your children will follow your lead as to how important and serious chores are in your family. Check out this post for help with any power struggles that may arise. And if you’re still feeling like your family isn’t carrying the load they could? This article has some great perspective on getting our kids to be more self-sufficient.
All three of these elements are pivotal to making any parenting effort a success. Keep your eyes on the prize; a life where our kids are helpful, empowered, and responsible is totally possible and absolutely worth striving for. In my experience, homeschooled kids are perfectly primed for these skills thanks to the incredible education they are receiving. A few tweaks to your mindset, organization, and discipline approach are all you need to create a wonderfully effective chore system!
Ann Kaplan is a doula, childbirth educator and parent coach. She has 4 kids and has been working since 2007 to help hundreds of growing families birth and raise awesome humans. You can find her unique brand of ‘earnest sarcasm’ all over Facebook, and through virtual and in-person workshops, coaching, classes and birth support. Her clients transform the attitude, organization and behavior in their homes and she LOVES seeing parents raise great kids on their own terms. Get some free parenting help from her Guide To Getting Kids To Listen (The First Time You Ask!). You can find her online at MomMeExperience.com or in her Mom-Me Experience facebook group.