Recently I read the cutest tee shirt that said, “I Run a Frat House,” and it made me laugh out loud. This is exactly how I feel at times with my two growing boys! Sans the alcohol, keeping a home clean with three members of the male species can feel like running a frat house. The clothes, the shoes, the toys, the food, the pee . . .
Since one of my goals as a mom is to help grow our sons into competent men who appreciate the value of hard work and clean and organized spaces, I have thought a lot about how to help them understand the importance of chores. My husband is actually a very good partner in helping with chores. In addition to most outdoor responsibilities, he does dishes and laundry and just about anything needed to help our family. His example provides a model for our sons to understand they are not exempt from certain responsibilities just because they are male. When I was growing up, my parents started my siblings and me early on chores so I have a strong foundation to work with. It all makes sense that we transfer these lessons on to our boys.
Boys are not exempt from household chores! In fact, I have learned they like to be helpful in the home when given the opportunity. The key is consistency in having a plan, providing them with explicit instruction, and modeling how you want things done first . . . and multiple times when necessary. They will glow in the challenge of accomplishing a task and in the speed of doing so. They will bask in the affirmation and gratitude we express when we are pleased.
Have a Plan
Take inventory of your home and areas you think your boys will like. Young toddlers are not helping to “accomplish” as much as they are helping to learn. There is a difference so be sure you have appropriate expectations depending on the age of your kiddos. One of my friends lets her two-year-old son help her put wet clothes from the washing machine into the dryer. He loves it!
Provide Explicit Instruction
The main ingredient to instruction is clarity. Boys are generally not into mind-reading, so be very clear about what you want accomplished, how, and when. Saying “clean your room” is different than saying “pick up your clothes and put them in the hamper. I don’t want to see any clothes hanging out of the basket. I would like this done before noon and you have about 30 minutes to do this.” The second phrase requires more work on my part because I have to know my own expectations. However, it helps my sons best know what I expect from them.
One of the reasons many moms forego the chores and do everything themselves is because of the time it takes to model how we want chores done. It’s easier to do it ourselves! If I want dishes loaded in a certain direction, I have to add modeling to my plan and instruction. For little ones, who are often developing motor skills and focus, this also requires a lesson in patience. It is worth it, so stick it out if you can!
When I see my boys cleaning their spaces without prompting, I am quick to tell them how much I appreciate their attention to details or personal desire for a clean space. At their age, they need a lot of affirmation. I pay close attention when they work hard. Sometimes I reward them and sometimes I don’t. You can also use fitness trackers to also provide affirmation, as many fitness trackers come with an ability to track chores and show progress. It’s amazing how the bright stars on the screen when finishing a task will give them a sense of accomplishment! Plus they love anything techy!
Just Try It!
The kinds of chores you give your boys will obviously depend on their ages and the needs of your home. In my house, our boys are eight and almost seven. They clean their bathroom and their bedroom, as well as their playroom when told. They put away their dishes and their laundry. I am working on having them consistently load and/or unload the dishwasher after dinner and on weekends. This summer they have been “practicing” their sweeping and vacuuming techniques. My greatest desire currently is consistency so it just becomes a part of their own expectations. Overall, we use chores as a way for them to contribute to their home environment and an opportunity to develop work ethic. So far, so good!
What chores do your boys do at home? Share below!