After a long week at school, kids don’t necessarily want to spend their weekend pitching in on household chores. They’d rather be watching TV than vacuuming. Or building a new Lego creation instead of folding towels. (So would we, kids. So would we.) They can be especially resistant to chores that fall outside of their regular jobs—you want me to feed the dog, empty the dishwasher AND pull the weeds?!
Still, it’s important for kids to pitch in; they’re part of a family and a family is a team. And every week, there are extra chores or jobs that come up that the team needs to tackle. Elizabeth Allison writes for Scary Mommy that when she grew tired of her sons’ whining over the raking or the watering or the decluttering, she came up with a new system: She created a family “Help Wanted” bulletin board and hung it in a high-traffic area of her home.
Here’s how it works
During the course of the week, each family member writes down chores they anticipate needing help with over the weekend, and they pin them to the board. The tasks should be “reasonable in scope,” which Allison’s family defines as able to be completed in one hour. That might be cleaning out a closet, practicing sight words, or doing some yard work.
Requests for help (two per person) must be posted by Friday night and completed by early Sunday evening.
Although everyone peruses the job postings throughout the week, no one commits to any until Saturday morning. At that time, each member of the family signs their name onto two posted job requests. I have found that my boys have a greater sense of control and approach their responsibilities more eagerly when they can select their jobs. To that end, the adults choose last so that the kids have more tasks from which to pick.
Jobs get—triumphantly!—crossed off as they are completed, and the whole family gathers at the end of the weekend to reflect on how much was accomplished and thank each other for help. There is pride! There is gratitude! There is harmony! And, most importantly, there is less whining.
Allison says the partnership aspect of this system has even given her one more opportunity to connect with her kids:
What’s more, no one person is shunted off to a corner of the house to work alone, as sometimes would happen before we used the board. Instead, each of us enjoys companionship and conversation while we work. More than once my kids have spontaneously offered up stories about what is happening at school while occupied with sweeping or washing dishes beside me. For me, these unprompted talks are the happiest unintended consequence of the way we handle housework now.
The board also gives her kids time to mentally prepare for the fact that their weekend will, indeed, include a bit of work—and being able to choose what they help with can give them a sense of ownership over the task.
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