The Real Problem-Our kids are over-scheduled.
Solution-Yes, it's true that our kids have a lot going on in their lives, and so do we. It doesn't mean that we get to abandon the day to day necessities that we have to do to keep life running smoothly. To get these things done by each member of our family, we need to schedule chore times with as much diligence as we adhere to soccer schedules, invitations, and penciled-in appointments. Something may need to be cancelled, but having a clean safe home to live in, can't be one of those things we're willing to compromise. If we get our kids in the habit now, brief chore times will soon become part of our family's routine.
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Excuse #2-"You didn't tell me I had to do that."
The Real Problem-Our expectations and consequences aren't clear.
Solution- Telling a child to clean their room can actually be perceived as a very vague statement. What exactly is clean? One way to get around the excuses of your children, is to be very specific in what you expect of them. A clean room to you might mean, no trash, no dirty laundry, no clutter, a made bed, or any other number of specific items. Consider creating lists to help your children know exactly what they have to do. Place the lists in plastic sheet protectors so that they can mark items as completed.
Be aware that sometimes we might have a tendency to be demanding in how chores are accomplished. This can be very frustrating for older kids who are learning to do things in their own order and at their own pace. If the way they do things doesn't affect the end outcome of cleanliness, consider letting them do it their way. Offer tips and suggestions if it will help them become more efficient, but let them figure out for themselves why some ways are better than others.
Along with making our expectations clear, we need to make sure that our consequences are clear as well. Some consequences can be natural. If you don't bring your dirty laundry downstairs, you won't have clean clothes to wear. There is nothing wrong with adding other consequences for not doing your part of the household chores. Kids learn quickly when a consequence is no Saturday cartoons until their room is cleaned. Find out what motivates your kids and make it part of their own consequences.
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Excuse #3-"I don't know how."
The Real Problem-Our kids haven't been taught or need to be taught again.
Solution-Any job we've ever had required a training period to teach us the expectations and how to complete them. Frequently we've had to watch as someone modeled the correct way to complete a job. These things hold true for our kids, too. There will be a period of time where your child is learning how to complete jobs either by you directly showing them how to do it, or by having them watch your methods. Start with basic chores and gradually advance to the more difficult ones.
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Excuse #4-"You can't make me start doing that now."
The Real Problem-We think it's too late or too early to start.
Solution- Maybe your kids are already preteens or teenagers and you feel like it's too late to start having your kids complete chores. It's not. To get your kids to buy in, at least partly, to the plan, you can try to have them help you come up with a list of what makes a room clean. Ask them what consequences are fair to impose for incomplete help. And when all else fails, let them have some control over the timing of the chores, the music they listen to while they clean, and as much of how the actual cleaning is done as possible.
If you feel like your kids are too young to possibly participate in chores, you could be surprised by what a young child can accomplish. The toddler age can be a great time to start introducing responsibility and cause and effect. Even a two year old child can help pick up their own toys and put them in buckets labeled with pictures. They may need help, but you are teaching them an invaluable lesson about their special place in your family.
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Excuse #5-"Somebody else would do it faster and better than I can."
The Real Problem- It can be a lot faster in the beginning to do things ourselves or hire someone else to do them.
Solution-Think of this time as an investment in yourself and your child. I started teaching my son how to help out when he was two years old. We would sort toys together, although it often felt like I was doing most of the work. Today, he's a ten year old little boy who can be told to clean a specific room in our home, and no matter which one it is, he can do it with little to no supervision. Not only does this free me up for more labor or skill intensive tasks, but it's taught him a better respect for cleaning as you go. When we allow our kids to skate by without learning how to chip in, we do them a real disservice. Although it may feel like it's more work in the beginning, teaching children how to care for a home is a wonderful way to prepare them to be caring responsible adults.
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Excuse #6-"I can't even tell what needs to be cleaned."
The Real Problem- There is too much clutter.
Solution- Could it be that there are simply too many stacks of things in our home to really get it clean? Clutter makes you feel overwhelmed when you clean. Along with cleaning, teach and model for your children the principles of decluttering and organization. Cleaning becomes very difficult when stacks and piles of "things" are everywhere. Help your child learn to declutter their own possessions and areas. These principles will help them realize valuable lessons about organizing and make your home a more efficient place to clean.
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