I am a firm believer in teaching our kids to use the power of choice whether it is with their attitude, their friends or their time management. Once they are “out in the world” we will not always be there to force, beg, and nag them to do the right thing, so I believe the earlier we begin to teach our kids that they have the power to make choices the sooner they will gain the confidence and ability to choose and choose wisely.
It is so important that we start teaching our kids at an early age to do things around the house like cleaning their rooms, picking up their toys, doing their laundry – yes, my kids are five and eight, but they both do their own laundry start to finish (wash, dry, fold, and put away), and trust me your kids can do this too! Our kids can do so much more than we give them credit for, and often times learning to do “grownup work” gives them an unparalleled sense of accomplishment and pride. No, the work won’t always be perfect, and as a Type A mom myself, this delegation is something I have had to discipline myself to do. But I know in the long run it will be well worth the extra effort.
I know doing chores is not always their favorite pastime; however, these are essential skills for a productive, successful adult life. Another essential skill is time management. So how can we help our kids learn these valuable lessons, do what we want done, and feel like they came up with the idea all on their own? Here’s one tip I have used with success.
When I start to look around and realize some of the day-to-day tasks are being neglected, and I can’t take the messy room anymore, I have begun making them lists with deadlines. Here’s a sample list…
- pickup bedroom
- vacuum and dust bedroom
- do laundry
- straighten the bathroom
- pick up toys around the house
- empty the dishwasher
- take out the trash
The deadlines may look like this – Straightening your room and picking up the toys around the house must be done by the time you go to bed tonight. The others must be done by bedtime on Wednesday. If the things are not done by their deadline there will be no screen time until it’s taken care of.
Tell your child, “You can choose how quickly or slowly you get these things done. I would recommend you do things sooner rather than later, and that you do them a little bit at a time so you’re not stuck doing all of it at the last minute, but the choice is yours.”
This approach makes my kids feel liberated. They are getting to choose how they use their time. I am still requiring certain things to be done while at the same time allowing them the freedom to decide when they do them within my boundaries. This encourages them to take responsibility and makes them feel empowered.
You may be amazed at what happens. As soon as I handed the list to Mikaela she jumped into action and had everything on the list done within two hours. She had an incredible sense of accomplishment, and there was no whining because in essence she had chosen on her own to get her work done. And she was proud of herself.
Holden, on the other hand, decided to procrastinate until it was a couple hours before bedtime. He wanted to watch a show with his sister; however, when I asked him if he had finished what had to be done before bed the answer was a very whiny no. At this point I didn’t have to get upset or frustrated. All I had to do was say, “Well, you know the rules, buddy. If you haven’t done it yet that was your choice.”
He couldn’t be upset with me. He had made the choice to put it off. Through his tears and in his frustration he managed to get it done in time to watch a show with Mikaela before bed, and hopefully he learned a lesson. But if he didn’t learn his lesson this time around he’ll have plenty of chances to try again!
I hope this helps you cultivate more peace in your home and more confidence and maturity in your kiddos! For more on how to get your kids helping out around the house and on the road to a great, stable future, check out Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money