Mom, you are the CEO of the home, and need to plan for your employees. Just like you wouldn't start a new job without knowing the work expectations, they can't work without knowing what is expected of them.
Let younger children work beside you. Yes, it's going to cause more hassle and a mess in the short term, but the pay out will be worth it! They will learn how you do something, and (if you'll answer a plethora of questions) why you do it that way. One of the best tools in my parent arsenal is explaining everything to my children. Why we something is just as important as how.
Walk your children through each chore three to four times, BE SPECIFIC about what you want done, and then turn them loose. We have a chore card for each room of the house, and the kids have been walked through each set of chores multiple times. If they need help with something (we're out of wet wipes; the vacuum is broken; etc), they know that they can ask for help. They may not ask for help just because they don't feel like doing it.
Setting Up a Chore System
- Printable Chore Cards
- Personalized Chore Cards
- Job Application for Kids
- Bedroom Checklist
- Zone Checklist
- More Cleaning Worksheets
- Pocket Chart
Don't expect them to do it well at first, but expect to see some effort. Also, be sure to check behind your child and offer up a smile and positive words when they've done a good job. If the job needs work, provide constructive criticism, but remember that they did the best they could do and may just need more practice. (If you can tell they didn't try at all, this is a character issue...address accordingly.)
Give your children both paid and non-paid chores. This gives them a chance to work and save up for something they have been wanting. In our house, non-paid chores are everyday ones : feed the animals, clean your room, help clean the kitchen, fold laundry, etc. Paid chores are provided on an as-needed basis (ie, when I needed help collating 2,000 packets for a meeting). Occasionally, if they've been working very hard to earn something, typically a Lego set, and are very close to it, we will 'invent' a chore that needs doing, such as picking up sticks in the yard. They are doing the work, and feel proud of the accomplishment of purchasing their own Lego set.
When you teach your children to do chores, you're empowering them. They're learning life skills, and they're also learning about work ethics. They can do something. They are useful. They are needed. Even our special needs child knows that he has value and things that he is very good at - he has confidence! No matter what the future brings, they will know how to work hard at anything they put their mind toward. In our opinion, this is just as important, if not more so, than the academics of school.