Thursday, August 14, 2014

Help Kids Balance School and Chores {Guest Post}

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It is BFBN switch up day! You can check out my post today over on FaithfullyInfertile.com--it is titled "Being Grateful for Our Difficulties."

By Maureen Monfore, www.ChildwiseChat.com

It’s back-to-school season! Have you bought school supplies, backpacks, and lunch boxes? Are you thinking ahead to your back-to-school routines? This can be a hectic time of year as we prepare for the school year ahead, but for many of us, the return to a regular routine is refreshing.

As kids head back to school it may be more difficult for them to keep up with chores. Between school, sports, music lessons, and play dates, our kids are busy! And sure, school is their job, so homework should come before housework, but chores should not be neglected.

Teaching kids the responsibility of cleaning up after themselves and helping out around the house is as important a lesson as any they’ll receive at school. Here are a few tips to help them manage school and chores successfully:

Help them prioritize
Learning to prioritize competing tasks is an important skill. Imagine your daughter has a heavy homework load, but she also needs to empty the dishwasher. Sure, homework is more important, but if she quickly empties the dishwasher first, she can devote the rest of her evening to homework. It’s no fun doing homework with a chore hanging over your head. So teach them how to prioritize and how it’s usually better to do the quickest jobs first.

Show them that they have control over chores
The most important chore for kids is to simply clean up after themselves. That can mean putting dirty clothes in the hamper, putting bikes back in the garage, or putting toys away. But when we team them a few simple tips, they’ll learn that they have control over the task.

My kids often make a giant mess with their Legos when they’re playing. And they often like to move onto other toys before they clean up the Legos. But it’s my job to teach them that it’s much easier to clean as you go than to face a giant mess at the end of the day. The same goes with putting dirty clothes in the hamper. It’s much easier to put them in the hamper as you undress than to throw them on the floor and pick them up later.

Avoid “chore bore” with variety
Doing the same chore day after day or week after week can get tiring. You can spice things up and reduce the amount of groans you hear by improving the variety of chores. Rotate the kids through all the jobs. This eliminates any complaining about whose job is harder and who is or isn’t pulling their weight.

One fun way to improve variety is to create chore sticks. Write the names of chores on popsicle sticks and have the child choose a chore. As an incentive, include a “free pass” option.

Enlist their help often
Despite how busy their lives get, there’s always time to help mom and dad out. It’s important to teach them the value of doing a chore when you see that it needs to be done. The only way to get them there is to point out when you need their help, throughout the day. Even if it’s not on their official list of chores, have them help you bring in the groceries, put food away, carry laundry upstairs, throw a load in the wash when your hands are tied, and more.

There’s no reason you should carry the brunt of all of the housework. Sure, it may be easier to do it yourself, especially when all you hear are complaints, but remember that teaching responsibility through housework is an important life lesson that no teacher or coach will ever teach them.

Reward them with an allowance
There are many schools of thought out there when it comes to allowance, but I’m usually of the opinion that we should give our kids an allowance for doing their part to keep the household running. We live in a capitalistic society, and almost everyone gets paid for his or her work. (Moms get paid in hugs and kisses.)

The only time an allowance can get troublesome is when we tie chores directly to a monetary value. The risk is that the child will choose to forego the money in order to get out of doing the chore. So make sure they know that this isn’t an option. They must do chores whether they receive an allowance or not.

Require a happy heart
Speaking of groans and complaints, require your kids to do chores with a happy attitude. They will never do chores willingly or offer to do them without being asked if they are always allowed to whine and complain about them.

When you give a child a chore and are met with resistance, you might give a verbal warning the first time. After that, have the child do double duty. Or if one child meets a chore happily while the other does not, have the complaining child do his sibling’s chore. That way, you’re giving the complaining child a consequence while rewarding the other child for not complaining.

And always be sure to offer a reward (even verbal praise) when a child does a chore without being asked. That’s the ultimate lesson in teaching responsibility, so when it happens encourage it!

Maureen Monfore is a homeschooling mother of two young boys, a marketing consultant, and the author of ChildwiseChat.com and the eBook, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience. A loyal follower of the teachings of Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, she is passionate about teaching children to obey to pave the way for fun, love, learning, and essential moral development.


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