Unless your family is lucky enough to have full-time maid and gardening service, everyone likely has assigned jobs and chores. Kids may balk at having to help, particularly if their peers don't have similar responsibilities, but doing chores helps them learn responsibility and is part of being in a family. Rotating the chores is one way to keep complaining and cries of "unfair" to a minimum. What chores you include in your rotation, as well as each chore's frequency, depends on the ages and abilities of your children, but they should eventually all get a chance to learn each task and experience the sense of pride that comes from being a contributing member of the family.
Make a list of the chores you want your children to do each week. Divide the list into three columns: One contains the simplest chores, the second lists more time-consuming tasks and the third column big jobs that require both harder work and more time than the other two lists. The first week, one child is assigned three chores from the easy list, another two from the middle list and another child gets one from the hard list. At the end of the designated rotation period, the kids shift to the next list. Over time, all kids get both easy and hard chores. The numbers of assigned chores can be adjusted based on the kids' ages or which things you need them to do.
Weekly rotation of chores is a standard in many households. Tasks are generally assigned based on the ages and abilities of the children, since some jobs, such as cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn, are not appropriate for younger children. Break down the list so that each week, older children alternate their chores -- Suzie washes dishes the first week, Max the second -- and the younger children do the same -- the preschool twins take weekly turns collecting the newspapers for recycling and feeding the fish.
If you think weekly rotations are too frequent or too hard to track, a monthly rotation might work for your household. Each child is assigned age-appropriate chores for a period of one month. At the end of the month, the children swap their monthly to-do lists with their siblings. This rotation is easier to keep track of, but it also gives rise to boredom and complaints, particularly from the child with the more onerous tasks.
Everybody Chips In
The adults in the family typically have many chores they do on a recurring basis that the kids can't or shouldn't do. Identify a few that can be added to the kids' rotation, such as making beds or sorting laundry. This shows the kids that parents have regular chores, too, and also enables kids to have a turn doing what their parents typically do, thereby giving them a greater appreciation for those efforts. If your schedule permits, factor an occasional "free time" into the rotation, so kids can look forward to one week a month with fewer chores, or one day each week that is free of chores. Knowing these freebies are coming makes it easier for kids to get through the days when they have chores assigned.
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