Last year I wrote a series of posts on the work my kids do around the house which you can find by clicking here. Over the last couple of months we have changed our approach to the kids’ jobs and also how we have allocated them.
Two separate comments helped me make this change. On a facebook update where I shared the post about our kids jobs, someone commented along the lines of there really weren’t that many tasks for the kids to do other than look after themselves. There was a lot of truth in that comment. I think I had stalled on the process of increasing the workload of the kids as they became older.
The second comment was on a facebook update I read on Stuff With Thing’s page here. Marita’s comment was in relation to a schedule that was very detailed in exactly what children should be doing around the home for narrow age groupings (eg 2-3):
I really hate these things, puts so much pressure on families to live up to expectations and doesn’t take into account kids develop at different rates. Yes my girls do chores, Heidi unpacks the dishwasher which is listed in the 8-9yo section, but “change a light bulb”… No, just no. There has to be a whole level of safety awareness for that task that is simply beyond her ability right now. In related discussion. I’m thinking about make a family chores poster but calling it “my family contribution”. The word chores seems quite negative to me, where as contribution seems more inclusive.
I loved Marita’s idea of referring to the work kids do around the house as their family contribution. That is very much the approach we take with household tasks in our home. They are not associated to pocket money, but as member of the household they are expected to contribute in ways they are physically capable of, so the workload is shared.
Creating the framework for our family contribution schedule
- The kids physical and cognitive abilities
- The times the kids are at home
- That the workload increases as the kids get older
- The tasks the kids do help them learn life and independence skills
- Tasks need to be ones that make a substantial difference to the upkeep of the household
It took me a while to pull together something I was happy with and could take as a draft to our monthly family meeting. To put it together I:
- Listed all the household tasks I wanted completed by the kids
- Allocated a value to each task
- Allocated a child to each task so it could be completed independently
- Each child was allocated tasks to a value equal to their age
Taking on the kids input
I let the kids know that I was going to bring suggested changes to the way we allocated jobs around the house in advance to our meeting. At the family meeting we discussed why it is important that everyone chips in to the household work and why it is appropriate for older kids to do more.
The kids were happy with the family contribution schedule as an overall approach, but not everyone was 100% happy with my allocation of tasks. At this point negotiations took place amongst the kids.
I said I was happy for them to swap tasks on the proviso that each child still had the same value for their family contribution and if they swap tasks, they must swap with someone who is capable of doing the task on their own. The 5 year old for example, could not end up being allocated cooking an evening meal!
It took about 15 minutes for the kids to come up with a family contribution schedule they all agreed on. I then printed it out and stuck it on the fridge for easy reference.
As with any change, it took a week or so for the kids to get into the swing of doing some of their new tasks. I needed to prompt the kids more to start their tasks as they worked out how to fit them into their weekly routines.
The allocation wasn’t perfect either. Some just didn’t work, the seven year old struggled taking the rubbish bag outside to the big bin, as our dog would overwhelm him in an attempt to get to the bag (yes our dog requires some more training!).
But with those transition issues sorted the family contribution schedule has been working really well for us over the last couple of months.
What our family contribution schedule looks like
I am sharing our family contribution schedule below, not to say this is what your kids should be doing, but what households tasks my kids do is a very frequently asked question of me via email etc, so it helps me answer reader questions by having it published here.
What I have listed works for us and the abilities of my kids. You will need to determine what works for your family. You can download the template I have created for our family contributions here – PWK Family contribution schedule. It is an excel file which you can edit and change yourself.
I would like to thank those who have helped with tips and advice in this area of parenting. Getting kids to contribute to the household is one of those areas of parenting for me that is constantly evolving, so I love advice and inspiration from other parents to help me with this.
Special thanks to Marita from Stuff With Thing. Marita has two gorgeous girls both who have a diagnosis of Autism. I love the way Marita views this:
the label given to my children has not been the end of the world, we have used it to open doors to places we otherwise would not have known existed. Yes some days it is hard but it is also amazing.
You can read more about how Marita is working with her girls to increase their contribution to the family household here.
How do you work out who does what in your household?