Last term my kids weren't helping me around the house enough.
I know I'm not alone in this...
So I sat down last week with these holidays and explained what would happen if this didn't change. Kids are smart. They can understand the honest truth. I wrote down all the missions I needed them to complete around the house for us all to be happy and well looked after. From Kitchen, to Toilets, to Weedspraying and Carwashing...there were 33 tasks!
But I do have four school-aged children to make the mess and share the load. Of course the shortest can't reach the washing line, the one most afraid of bugs isn't going to be given the garden duties and the one most easily distracted will need jobs that are based in the main living area so we can gently keep her on track.
Between the children and I, we weighted each task with a score from 1 to 10 based on how much effort the job takes and how often it needs doing. If the opinions of the scores differed vastly we spent a few extra seconds noting what was involved and saying "Oh yeah, I s'pose so" a lot.
Next, adding the scores and trading jobs until the numbers were clearly quite even, we divided the jobs up together to make sure no one had *que whiney complaining tone* 'all the easiest jobs'.
It had been 15 mins by now, attentions were slipping, so I made sure not to let any child slink off before the tasks were decided and agreed on collectively so no one could pull the 'wasn't my idea' card down the track. I made sure they all had an equal say and felt listened to. It's important for them understand that they are a valued team member and that their input holds weight... this prevents a large number of arguments (and doesn't allow the youngest to leave it all to the others).
I wrote it up clearly and they signed and dated their list themselves. This last part wasn't really necessary but it was an opportunity for me to sneak in a lesson about reading and signing contracts so the first time they handed a real one it's not so scary for them.
So far so good.
When I've said "it's time to get your jobs done, grab your list" I only get one "Awwwwe" instead of one for every task I ask them to do. I also don't have to listen to my own voice asking them to do the same things over and over again. When they see their siblings completing their list they don't feel so hard-done-by themselves.
Life is an ever-changing thing and people get bored, so this won't be the only chore list I'll ever have to write. One day I'll have to tweak it to keep their momentum up. Indeed I've been tweaking these methods for years. That's what we all do for our kids as they grow, isn't it?
Its not about getting them to 'help' around the house because it's not 'helping'. This is their home too. It's getting them to do their share and learn important skills that they'll need as Young Adults.
What have you found that motivates your children?