Chore time. It either brings up happy thoughts of well behaved children that wake up and instantly go to their chores, happy and diligent, or it makes you groan inside as you think of the daily struggle that chore time can be.
I’ve had both thoughts at time. Morning chores can be a “can I pull my hair out?” type experience, but it doesn’t have to be. The key to this (as with most other parenting challenges), is consistency long term.
It’s not fun to be the bad guy. Getting up every morning and reminding children to do their chores is not my favorite thing to do. I don’t want to hear any groans first thing in the morning. But they will never learn if I remind them once or twice a month, and then ignore it the other days.
Children learn best with slow, daily drips of knowledge being consistently fed to them. The same is true for chore time.
You can find more information on our morning chore routine on a previous blog post I wrote, not much has changed since that post, except our children are a little older and some have different chores.
What I’ve been realizing lately is that some of my children needed a refresher course on how to do their chore. You can’t just tell a child to go do the dishes or take care of the laundry without showing them how to run the washing machine, or load the dishwasher. Often you will have to show them more than once, and stand and watch them until they get it down correctly.
The bathroom chore is what was needing a refresher course in our house. We live in a small house with one bathroom, and it’s obviously in high demand with 8 people in our house!
The best way to give a refresher training course? Make it fun! Inspire them about their chore! Make them feel proud of what they do for the family.
Chore time took much longer than normal, but I went into the bathroom with our son and instead of showing him all the different things he was doing wrong, I started with one simple thing.
The toilet. Yucky! But it needed to be cleaned better, so I told him to go grab a cleaner (Mrs. Meyer’s is our favorite and it’s safe for the children to use! We get it from Grove.) I started pointing to him step by step what I wanted him to clean. But I tried to make a connection to why he was cleaning it.
When he lifted up the toilet seat and started cleaning the bottom part, I told him that no guy wanted to use the toilet when it was really dirty. He didn’t seem to care (typical boy!!) but I said his father would appreciate a clean toilet. 😉
I literally had to stand and point to dirty spots over and over again on the toilet. He has been doing this chore for quite awhile, but I think it’s normal for children to need to a cheerleader to come along behind them and give them refresher training courses.
Here is how I made this chore fun.
This boy loves anything about the west, toy guns (living in the city he has to stay content with toy guns for the most part!), civil war time period…all those historical times of battles and cowboys. He just happened to have a holster strapped onto him already, so I definitely played on that.
“Israel! The spray bottle is your gun! Pull it out and attack this pile of dirt! Oh look at you go! The fastest spray guy in the west!”
Now I’m not talking to a toddler here. You have to know your child, and if something like this would work for them. We started with a quiet, not terribly excited child, and ended our chore time over 30 minutes later with a chid who was happily chattering on about how great the bathroom looked.
“Mama, this bathroom is something we can be proud of now! We don’t have to feel embarrassed when someone comes over!”
It warmed my heart to see him feel pride in a clean bathroom!
Here is a quick step by step list of what we did to the bathroom.
- Clean the toilet, step by step. Wipe down each part of the toilet seat, top bottom, then the lid, the back of the toilet and the top of the toilet.
- Clean the sponge. This was a big step. Remind them to constantly be rinsing out their sponge or wash cloth so it’s clean again.
- Clean the walls. Our walls really needed wiped down! Spray and wipe, and explain that if you wipe down the areas around the sink every few days then it won’t get very dirty.
- Clean the trim. Dust and dirt just collect around our trim and it has to be cleaned! I’ve done this so many times to this bathroom, but it’s something that needs to be done weekly. I reminded him how to use the scrubbing side of the sponge and to scrub right up along the side of the baseboard.
- Finally, I reminded him to clean the sink last, and to wipe it down when he was done cleaning.
I clean the shower myself, so we skipped that part. He even got a towel and wiped the floor down, since it was wet from scrubbing it, and then wiped the sink down.
It definitely took quite a bit of my time in the morning, but it was worth it for long term success of getting our bathroom clean!
If you are struggling in chore time, here are a few ideas.
- Rally the troops! Have a family meeting and let your children know how important their chores are that they do. They are really blessing the family, and make them feel super important with the jobs they have.
- We don’t give weekly allowances, but we do give checks on their Character Badges chart if they get up and do their chore without reminded. They receive a diligence check. Checks lead to earning coins and they can turn their coins in for rewards! Super motivating! 🙂
- Give them a reward to work towards! It could be a small toy or book they want, and if they faithfully do their chore for 2 weeks (or whatever time you set) then they get this item. It can be a great way to instill good habits.
Happy chore time! Press on mother!