It is important for kids to know they are a part of the family and keeping up the house is the family’s responsibility – not just Mom or Dad’s! Kids think chores are boring – and, well, they are. So maybe you change up your approach with your kids. Talk about responsibility and their role in the running of the family.
At your family dinner, ask them what part did they play today in the running of the family? What was their contribution? If they are clueless, then run down everything you did today to keep the family running (made breakfast, did laundry, made lunch, cleaned up meal dishes, paid bills, went to work, made dinner, took kids to friends, vacuumed and dusted, cleaned the bathrooms, etc.). By listing out what YOU do every day to contribute to keeping the family running, it will make them think about what they did and could do.
If they tell you they don’t know what they could do – have your list ready! They could take part in the running of the family by: dusting, vacuuming, changing beds, making beds, setting the table, clearing the table, sweeping, doing dishes, putting dishes away, taking out the garbage, bringing back the empty garbage cans, putting toys away in the garage, putting toys away in the house, cleaning out the car, helping brother with homework, walking sister to bus stop, putting their clothes away, raking the yard, etc. Let them know how good it feels to help keep this family running.
Once they start to tell you what they did to participate in running the family, you can find out what items they enjoyed and why, as well as what they did that they found they didn’t like. Praising them all the way – making them feel good about their contribution.
Approach the kids with the idea of doing what they like plus one item they don’t like so much, because not everything in running a family is enjoyable (like cleaning out the toilet bowl – yuck!) but it still must be done. Get them to switch off with one another so everyone can get a turn at everything.
If they start to fall to the wayside in participation, that is when you make participation mandatory and document who will do what and on what night/week. You can make sure each child is doing what they like, plus something they don’t like. You can allow them to switch with each other, but then the responsibility will be on the child who ends up with the task in the trade. When you get to this point, your children will understand keeping a family going takes everyone in the family – it’s not a one person job.