Friday, August 28, 2015

Dealing With Kids Who Do Chores Slooooowly

We have 9 people living under one roof.  We homeschool (at home of course).  We own a business and work at home.  Our kids work for us (at home).  Many of our hobbies take place at home.  We eat most of our meals at home.  Some of these things happen inside and others, outside.  The bathrooms and kitchen and garage never really get a break.  No matter what, when this many people are doing this many things at home, messes are bound to happen.  Stuff needs to be picked up and put away.  Floors need to be cleaned.  Food needs to be prepared and DISHES need to be washed.  EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

In order to make it all work, every member of the family has to contribute what they can to the cleaning up.  We use rotating chore charts to keep everyone in the know as to who is in charge of what.  But chore charts don't make chores get done fast.  And if there's one thing that puts me over the edge it's dilly dallying while doing chores.  I know, I know when they dilly dally around it only wastes their own time.  True, sort of.  But what about when you need to use the sink for washing tomatoes or soaking cucumbers in preparation for canning and you can't get to the sink for one and a half hours.  Aargh!  It wastes my time, too.

After nearly 18 consecutive years of parenting and a combined 70 years of mothering my 7 kids I've learned a thing or two about dealing with kids who do chores sloooooowly.  First of all, I've tried all the tricks (I think).

*I've set the timer and offered a reward if they beat the time.
*I've set the timer and taken away privileges if they didn't finish in time.
*I've charged them a nickel or dime for not working diligently.
*I've sent them on time outs every time they got distracted while working.
*I've made them do extra chores thinking that they would simply work faster next time.
*I've explained the ramifications of working slowly and how it wastes their own time.
*I've explained the benefits of working diligently and the self satisfaction that comes with it.  Yeah right.
*And I've probably, maybe, sort of said that if they don't learn to work quickly and stay on task they'll probably get fired from their first job and then maybe they'll learn to just GET.  THE.  JOB.  DONE.  ALREADY.  Maybe I've said that a time or two.

Now for the tips on dealing with said kids.  The ones who work painfully slow.

#1 - Make sure they know exactly what is expected from them.  Write down the steps, draw a picture.  Do whatever you have to to ensure they know exactly what the task is.

#2 - Encourage, praise, fist bump, give a hug letting them know you believe in them and their ability to work diligently.

#3 - Walk away and let them just do the job.

Number 3 has been very effective when dealing with kids doing the lunch dishes.  Within minutes I can tell if the dishwasher is going to give me guff.  If it seems likely they will, I take the little kids outside to the trampoline or some other spot "hidden" from the kitchen window.  If I happen to go back inside and the dishes still aren't finished, I work very hard to refrain from saying anything.  I simply let them finish.  It's amazing how quickly they can get a job done when there isn't anyone to hear their complaints.

To recap, the most important thing in dealing with kids who do their chores slowly is to walk away and let them get the job done without a hovering parent or nit-picking sibling within earshot.  Sooner or later or later or later they'll learn to work quickly because it's really boring complaining to oneself and much more fun to be where the action is rather than alone doing chores.

An oldie, but a goodie post on why you should ignore your children.