Giving My Kids Responsibility for Their Stuff

One of the best choices I’ve made in parenting!

#ds302 - Trail of Tears

I was so tired of asking my kids to clean their rooms.

It gets old, doesn’t it? The fact that my 6-year-old would still throw a giant tantrum any time I asked her didn’t help. Maybe it was because by that time, I was so frustrated I was about to burst. This had been going on for years. Instead of cleaning, she would whine, complain, cry, and then often fall asleep in avoidance of the task at hand.

We don’t have a ton of toys for our kids, either. But we live in an apartment, a small-ish place, no playroom, and the toys seem to overrun it nonetheless.

One day I decided I was just DONE. I talked it over with my husband. What do we do well that the kids respond to?

Bedtime. We do bedtime right. Every night, the kids (6, 4, and 2) know exactly what to expect. We read a Bible story, share what we are thankful for, and sing a song. Then they brush teeth, get tucked in with essential oil diffusers on, and are expected to go to sleep. My sons (the 4 and 2 year old) share a room, and often giggle and chat until it gets dark. But they know to go to sleep. They don’t come out and ask for a million things. It’s BEDTIME.

So I thought about how we could transfer that kind of consistency to cleaning up. After thought (especially reflecting on some of Kevin Leman’s books, like Make Children Mind Without Losing Yours), I posted a few new rules on a chalkboard in the kitchen the next morning.

Rule #1: The kids would be expected to have clean rooms by 7 p.m. on Sunday evening. If they did, they would receive an age-appropriate allowance. Rule #2: Any toys left in the living room after bedtime might not be there in the morning.

Simple, right? But it was enough to make it click for my 6-year-old, at least.

The first week, my 4-year-old’s room wasn’t clean at 7 p.m. And he didn’t get the allowance. You better believe it was clean the second Sunday night!

There’s more to it, of course, a few more rules we created to help consistency around here. But just putting it in writing has made a huge difference in our household. And the best part is my own freedom: I might remind them that if they pick up during the week, it will make Sunday easier. But it puts all the responsibility on them, not me. And amazingly enough, the rooms have stayed much cleaner the rest of the time, too.

Do you have any great go-to tips for getting kids to pick up and do chores?

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Common from user Sharon Drummond. This post added to Works for Me Wednesday at Giving Up on Perfect

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