When it comes to taking care of the household, one person is just not enough. Family life is not only about supporting each other emotionally, a division of work does also impact the relationship between parents and their children. Especially if they know, everyone works as a team.
Setting the table, emptying the dishwasher, folding clothes from the day before – just little tasks throughout the day. Looking at them separately, they are all quickly finished while summing up the time needed for each steals us a lot of free time. Especially when we are busy all day long: preparing breakfast for the morning, getting ready for work, parents bringing the children to kindergarten and school, work. After-work hours do not contain a lot of relaxing when there are all the chores we need to do, without any family members helping out.
There are lots of stressor we face during the day. Home should be the place where we should take time for ourselves and leave all the duties of the day behind us. It sounds like a peaceful place: changing into the jogging pants, warm and comfortable moments on the couch, a nice dinner and a long bath.
“Home is a place blessed, where you and your family can be secure, have all you need, and share your sadness and happiness. Where you can help each other as a family. It does not matter how big or small.” – Honey
Helping each other as a family also means dividing the work to make sure home stays the place to feel comfortable. The work cannot be done by one single person, that is why it is important to include children in household work. Here are 9 benefits of sharing chores with your children:
1. There is work for every age group
The list of chores that need to be done in the household is long. It can also vary depending on the age of the children in your household as well as the cirumstances, e.g. if you have guests over for a dinner night, you will need more time in the kitchen to prepare the food. Even though children of different age groups all have different skills, everyone can take part of the household. For toddlers, for example, it starts with putting away the toys they have just played with to teach them to clean up after themselves. School kids have more capabilities of helping out at home. They can assist in preparing meals, setting the table and bringing the garbage to the bins. Teenagers can take even more responsibilities and might help to clean the house, cook light meals and empty the dishwasher. Annie Stuart created a list of chores she recommends for different age groups. Have a look on what she suggests!
2. Children learn how to take responsibilities
Oftentimes, parents believe that it is still too early to involve their children in chores because they are just children and need to enjoy being young as long as they possibly can. But children will be urged to take responsibilities in different stages of their lives: in kindergarten they will have to clean up after themselves, in school they will have to do their homework and work in groups with their class mates, at some point they will move out and do everything on their own. Step by step parents can assist their children in managing these responsibilities by teaching them how to do things at home. Chores are often one of the first responsibilities children have, they are a great way of developing skills for the future.
3. Children learn realistic work from a young age on
Giving children the feeling of life being too easy only works as long as they live with their parents. Young adults move out quicker than most parents wish. If children never did anything in the household, it is a challenge to take care of oneself and it can be frustrating for the grown-up to learn all these skills. Involving your child from a young age on gives them a feeling of how much work there is in a household. More important, assigning them specific chores within their childhood shows children the reality of work within their home. Growing up in a world without responsibilities only works as long as children live with their parents. At some point they will end up taking care of themselves.
4. It gives them a feeling of being competent and responsible
With every responsibility a child has either in school groups or helping out in the household, it learns how to handle little challenges that will come up regularly. “Chores teach children how to do tasks that they will need throughout their lives — like doing laundry and the dishes. And they teach skills that will benefit them in the classroom and on the sports field, such as how to work together and be a part of a team,” clinical psychologist Caroline Mendel tells author Christina Frank for the Child Mind Institute. Starting with small responsibilities like doing their own bed or setting the table for dinner shows the child that his or her help is necessary for the household to be organised.
5. Children are challenged and feel like they achieved something when finishing their chores
Parents often struggle with their children not wanting to do their chores. Therefore they look for expert advises on how to motivate their child. One major issue is that many children see household tasks like tidying up their room, making their bed, emptying the dishwasher and bringing their dirty laundry down to the laundry basket as duties and obligations. For them, there is always the option: chores or something fun. Who would not decide for something that cheers them up? Instead of forbidding the exciting parts, many advices are to set certain time limits until when the chores should be done without any consequences. But even if the child did his or her task for the day, it should be appreciated by the parents as well to give their child the feeling of achieving something positive. Praising the child gives them a boost in self-confidence, which connects the ‘annoying’ work with a positive feeling they strive for in the future. Researchers of a study in the United States have found a positive effect of frequent chores for elementary school children on their life satisfaction as well as self-competence.
6. It can improve the children’s mental health
The following Kids at home report illustrates how chores can be therapeutic, also for children. It is not only about keeping the children busy. Pediatric Dr. Anna Groebe explains the impact of household chores on children’s mental health:
7. It makes family life easier because divided work reduces stress
According to therapist Jody Baumstein household tasks should be divided among family members, including children. “If only one or two members of the family are doing all the chores, it can lead to feeling overwhelmed and possibly frustrated with others. By splitting up chores, you’re sharing responsibility amongst the family, which means that everyone can have more time for fun and connection.” Taking care of keeping the home clean together leads to less fights and less stressed parents.
8. Shared work improves family relationships because every family member is part of the team
Chores are often associated with lonely boredom. Actually, they should be more fun because dividing tasks also means developing skills of working in a team. Thinking about sports, who does not enjoy playing soccer more while being outside with the best friends, kicking the ball around rather than kicking it all alone in the garden at home? Therefore it is important to show your children that they are not the only one’s who are doing work they might not enjoy. Every member of the family has their tasks they take care of. If one member does not do their part, the target will never be reached. A good advice of team management is speaking about the chores all together and creating a list of which chores everyone has to do for the following week. It also gives the child the opportunity to pick their favorite work rather than doing something he or she does not like.
9. Children learn to appreciate the work their parents do at home
When children know how much time it costs to do household tasks, they are more likely to appreciate the times their parents do everything themselves. And they might suggest some chores they would take care of. Especially because home is the place for the whole family, so everyone should take part in keeping it tidied up. In order to ensure children understand the value of their work, it is important to communicate clearly, assign them age-appropriate chores but also recognize the work they do. Some parents reward their children by paying them for the work they do. Joanna Fortune, child psychotherapist, supports this method but still finds: some chores must be done without involving money. Just for the learning effect.
To make household work more entertaining for your toddlers, here is a song to keep them in motion when cleaning up their toys. It is often used in pre-schools and gives children the sign: it’s clean-up time.
Motivation is the key for chores because it makes the work feel lighter and even a little fun. Teenagers do not tend to enjoy children’s songs that much. Here is a playlist to entertain the one’s who do not find their motivation for household work easily:
Involving children in household chores is beneficial for parents, since they aren’t buried under a pile of work but also for children because they learn important skills such as independency, autonomy, time management and experience little successes with every task they finish. It is not an obligation but little responsibilities can prepare children for their future as a grown-up and give them a feeling of knowing how to take care of themselves. But the most important is to keep in mind that it is not only the parents’ job to manage the household, there is a task for every member of the family.