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How to get your kids to help more at home

Categories: Balancing Act, Parenting & Family


I’ve had a major revelation recently about how to get my daughter to do more to help out at home.

She is seven and a half and for a while now we’ve had a chore chart going in an effort to get her to be more consistent about doing a few things to help. Nothing too crazy: Put away the dishes after dinner, make her bed in the morning, check her backpack for school, sweet the kitchen floor, feed her fish, etc. She is not terrible about remembering but I do have to reminder her, a lot.

The other day I wasn’t feeling well so I plunked down on the couch and said to my daughter, half kidding: “Could you please go and make me some tea and a snack?”. She has never done this and I wouldn’t trust her with the hot tea, but as soon as I said it she got really excited and ran to the kitchen. My husband was there and she asked him to help her get the tea ready and figure out what snack I might want. They came out and brought me some tea, cut up apples and some cheese on a tray. I kissed her and told her it was the best snack ever and she was so excited.

A few hours later I was in the kitchen finishing up making dinner and she came over and asked me: “Mama, do you want me to make you more tea?” I told her sure, so she went and got my husband, and they repeated the routine from before (she pressed the electric kettle button, he poured, she timed three minutes on the clock for the tea to steep). The next day she asked me again. And it’s now become a regular things she asks me and I don’t know which one of us likes it more.

So here is my revelation about how to get your kids to help out more:

Ask them to do something for you.

Sure, I’d love it if my kiddo was really into vacuuming (NOT my favorite thing to do), but I love that she enjoys making a snack for me because she sees how happy it makes me. I recently read an article in the New York Times about a mom who asked her sons to make dinner once a week. To her and her husband’s surprise they really got into it and made pretty good food. And I think it was partly because they liked doing something creative (cooking) and they loved seeing how awesome they made their parents feel.

I’m not suggesting you make your kids serve your every wish (although, sometimes it would be nice). But I do think that when they see that doing something makes you happy, that they can do something for you and make you happy, they are much more likely to get into it.

What about you, what have you found helps your kids get more excited about helping around the house?

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4 comments so far...

  • My husband & I run our own business together, Laguna Niguel carpet cleaning and most other moms think that I’m a stay at home mother. But let me tell you I’m not. With the household chores and the running of our business as a wife and mom, I do all the work as if I were 3 people. But I have realized I’m one person. I need to learn to have my daughter do some of the chores around the house, give her something that I know she would be happy to do, I have just never given her that responsibility to do some of them. Yes, I’m one of those super women that thinks she can do it all. Boy I know that I will go crazy if I keep up that thought. The list of what us mothers do on a daily basis is never ending. She is 9yrs old and is old enough now to help. At least that’s what every one around me keeps telling me. I’m going to chose something she can also do for me like your daughter did, that will be exciting for her to do for me. If you make it something fun for her like you did, then we all benefit from it as a family. I love your blog and will be back for more to read. From one mother to another!

    Juliette @ Laguna Niguel carpet cleaners  |  February 6th, 2012 at 1:25 pm

  • My little two-year-old is a helper when it comes to chores, but I never thought of asking him to do things for ME. Brilliant idea! So far he just puts away his clothes, tidies his toys and mess, and “helps” with laundry, but for the most part all of those tasks are done just because.

    I’ve got to try and ask him to do something for me and see if he gets a kick out of it too! I love the idea of fostering pride and goodwill and the wonderful feeling you get when you help someone—especially someone you care about—feel good.

    Sleeping Mama  |  February 11th, 2012 at 12:29 am

  • What I do (and what I coach other working moms to do) is to create the feeling and atmosphere of your home as you all being a TEAM. So, instead of creating chore charts and paying money, giving stickers, etc. We all do our tasks because we’re a team. These tasks are not labelled anywhere, they are simply part of our daily routine. Clearing our dishes is just what we do after eating. Tidying our toys at night is just what we do before we watch a family program on the tV together. Get it? To see how to easily establish this i your home go to:

    Erin  |  February 23rd, 2012 at 12:28 pm

  • Sometimes I feel like cleaning everthing up myself, no arguing, no crying. I have to work on myself to get my kids involved in the cleaning of our home. When it comes to toys I get strict and tell my kids that they can only take one game out at a time, or all the pieces get lost. It’s important for the kids to have a sense of responsibility. Its important for their growth and even self esteem. One thing that has helped me with this was that I took my kids to Walmart and let them pick out colorful containers to put the toys in. It made them feel “big” and now they feel a little more part of the clean up.

    Judy  |  February 29th, 2012 at 1:20 pm