How to help kids be more responsible?
I always say: I am one confused mama. I constantly struggle between letting kids be “kids” and using life lessons to teach responsibility. I find that just like many things in life, these two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
We can do both but all in due time.
We don’t do an allowance or bribery in this house. Not for chores at least. We simply use life as a teaching tool and we find that chores help kids feel needed but also give them purpose and teach independence. It builds character and work ethic. By helping themselves and their family, it minimizes entitlement. Everyone is equal around here and we all have a purpose.
I also don’t do chore charts. I used to have one but I felt like they were a lot more work. Trying to keep up with who did what was getting annoying.
Here is how we divide chores and responsibility in our house.
- Make bed
- Clean up after eating
- Put dirty clothes in the hamper
- Get dressed and brush your teeth
- Prep your backpack
- Get your lunch/ water bottle
- Put your shoes in the shoe bin
- Get ready for bed
Everyone helps with laundry. I wash and separate all of the clothes but each kid (and adult) helps put away their own clothes. Donnie is not tall enough to put away his shirts but I get the hangers ready for him and he preps them for me to hang. Adriana is old enough to do it all herself. I’ve organized their closets in a way that they can pretty much do it all.
This is a repeat offender but they clean up after themselves most of the time. You play with it, you put it away or I will throw it away. Simple as that. This was more challenging when they were little but we just kept at it. Sometimes we make it into a game or a race but it gets done.
We just started doing this one. They both have small but meaningful tasks. Clean the sink when you are done. Wipe down the mirror if needed. Check in and around the toilet before you leave the bathroom. Change the paper roll. This way mom is not the only one cleaning all week long.
VACUUMING/ WIPING THE FLOORS
I do most of that around here but on occasion I have the kids pitch in. Simply because they can and they should. They make messes and it is also their responsibility to clean up. We all play a part in keeping this house dirty/ clean – so we all clean it too.
They may not always be able to help with setting up lunch or dinner but cleaning up is a must. Simple but lifelong habit. I don’t ask for help with the dishes or the dishwasher but clearing the table, definitely.
This isn’t anyone’s favorite chore but it has to be done. As long as they keep their rooms clear of clutter then on garbage day there really isn’t much to clean. But they have to help with picking up the trash from bathrooms and their rooms and bringing it downstairs on weekly basis. It doesn’t take more than 5 minutes. Also on garbage days, they take turns in bringing in the cans.
You play with it, you charge it. Yes there are days when we help each other out but if it belongs to you and you want to use it the next day, be responsible and plug it in.
They both take turns on picking up the mail. They can operate a key and are capable of carrying it to the house. Also I take this opportunity to show them that opening someone else’s mail is a crime. So they make sure to check the addresses on all packages and if it does not belong to us, we leave it alone or take it to our neighbor.
While these chores may not seem like a lot and they are more daily responsibilities than chores. But to me they are ways of forming healthy habits.
I also have one child that is very dependent and one that loves to be independent but both in different ways. So I use chores to challenge them but also to embrace their independence. It helps keep the house clean and things in order but also teaches the kids to take charge. This is life and you should be able to know how to take care of yourself and your belongings – respect yourself and your surroundings.
Every family is different and every child is unique. Play on their strengths and help them with their weaknesses. We won’t always have control and we will definitely never get it right but we can try.
Have a fabulous weekend.