I’m the mean mom. I’m the one who has my child do chores around the house, and the wee ones have since they were two years old or so. They started out small – just picking up their (plastic) plates and bringing them to me and have since graduated to much larger tasks. I have friends who are shocked that my children will actually do the chores, let alone know how to. Starting simple and growing with your kids is definitely the way to go.
Kids can do chores. In our house, the attitude is that there is a ton of work to be done. If I’m home alone, I do what needs to be done. The same holds true of my husband. But when others are around, they will pitch in because it’s what we need to do to make our family work. The quicker our chores get done, no matter who does them, the quicker we can all go do something fun. And yes, when chores are done, I make sure we have fun, too.
The key for me is not giving them tasks that will frustrate them or have them mess up in some way. That’s why I still pour the soap into the washing machine even though the wee ones do pretty much everything else. I have them sort their laundry by darks and lights into the washing machine, but I supervise because there is still that odd item that they get wrong – and I’m not going to risk ruining an entire load of clothes. But they learn from it, and I do it in a nice way so that they aren’t frustrated and they don’t feel badly about themselves.
On the other hand, they’ve graduated from bringing me their plastic plates to now capable of doing all the dishes. We started small and increased the difficulty of the chore as they got older – more careful and stronger. They can load any dishes into the dishwasher. They know how to add soap – and how much – to the dishwasher. They are able to start it, and of course they know how to empty it and put the dishes back where they go. When there are dishes that they can’t lift – ones I use for entertaining, for example – or that belong in a foreign place, they know to simply leave those on the island for me to put away, and I happily do that.
My other trick is to give them tools they can use. The vacuum? Yes, they can do it, but I’ve noticed that because the vacuum is heavy, they tend to push it into my baseboards and leave marks. Or miss areas because it’s too hard for them to turn. Instead, I’ve changed and now give them tools that I know they can handle. When they’re older and stronger, they can vacuum and mow the lawn. Instead, I tend to pass them the Swiffer products. Yay for the #BigGreenBox I received so that I can pass along the #SwifferEffect even more easily!
Little Miss has told me that the Swiffer Duster is her duster. She wants to be the only one who dusts in our house. I’m pretty sure she has it hidden in her room somewhere so that no one else can take her job. She thinks it’s cool and pretty, which makes doing chores just a little more fun. So maybe it’s a Tom Sawyer type setup, but we’re all good with it.
When it come to floors, I’ve taken back the vacuuming job, at least for another year, but there is more that needs to be done to our floors than vacuuming. We have hardwood floors throughout our house and two cats and two children (three if you count my husband!). The dust and dirt tracked in add up quickly, and the vacuum doesn’t always get into each space. I have the wee ones use the Swiffer Sweeper for quick messes, as well as to get into corners and under furniture. They love that it’s so light and maneuverable. If they miss a spot, it’s easy for them to go back and do it again. Best of all, I can take off parts of the handle so that it’s the right height. When they were littler, I used to have less of the handle attached. Now that they’re around 5 feet (eek, how did that happen!), I keep it fully put together.
We use the same philosophy on mopping. The Swiffer Steam Boost Mop is one of my favorite things ever. It has a great long cord so the wee ones can use the lightweight mop without making a mess by spilling water or having huge wet patches, and it really cleans with the steam and the pad. I’ll spare you the sight of our disgusting pads once they’ve finished cleaning our floors. But again, Little Miss claims this job because she thinks it’s fun and she loves how “yummy” it makes our floors smell. It cracks me up when I see her crouch down on the floor she’s just cleaned to check out how shiny and clean it looks – and then give it a sniff.
The wee ones are well on their way to being independent and productive adults one day. I’m not pushing them too hard – when they have homework, for example, I don’t ask them to do chores because school is the first priority. I don’t ask them to do things beyond their skill level, but the sight of their faces when the accomplish something new is priceless – seeing Mister Man the first time he cooked dinner “on his own” really brought that home to me. When they go to college or live on their own the first time, they’ll know what they need to do to make it work, and they won’t panic trying to figure it out then.
These five chores are more than appropriate for them at 9 and 11. And I love how easy the Swiffer products make it, and how much they enjoy using them, which makes my life easier.
Lucky me, I also received a second #BigGreenBox that I was able to share with a friend of mine who has two children as well, but also two dogs to go with her hardwood floors. The look on her face when we showed up with the box was priceless. And she continues to thank me for it each and every time she sees me. The best part is that this was completely her genuine reaction. I just turned on the camera and watched Little Miss make her day!
So what are your chore tips for kids? How do you have them help around the house? Eric Stonestreet has his own ideas about how to use Swiffer around the house to make cleaning easier. What can you teach me?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.