Warning! This is a gloating blog on our family's successful implementation of chores. My husband and I have had a great deal of success upholding our 5-year-old's daily chore responsibility and I am using this platform to brag a little.
The best part of Lincoln's daily wood chore is that it had become so routine that it is almost a non-issue. We have more fights over getting a pair of shoes and socks on each day than we do over getting wood for the fire. The chore has evolved since my last post. Lincoln began by using a wheelbarrow to bring 5 pieces of wood from a backyard pile to create a stack on the front porch. This went on through most of October and the beginning of November. When we started having regular fires Lincoln's chore was to bring in 10 pieces of wood from the front porch to the small stack we have inside of the house. On a few occasions we work together to load or unload a truck filled with wood at our house or the gym and Lincoln is expected to contribute. Tune in to Dane's daily vlog's to see our family stacking wood at the barn on our day off!
Some days Lincoln does not do his chores. There are days when Lincoln is shuffled out the door at 8am and he does not return until 8pm. On these days we don't force the issue of completing the chore. And we also try not to expect a double duty to occur on the following day. We don't keep track of the days he does or does not complete the chore in a chart or calendar. And we also did not follow through with any long term reward. We act like he does the chore every day, and we don't bring it up if it doesn't get done.
There is one reward that he receives on a regular basis. He gets to watch a video or play a game on the iPad when his chores are completed. This does not happen every day, but it does happen often enough for it to be motivating. When Lincoln asks to watch a video on the iPad he knows the response will always be, "Did you do your chores yet?" The other day Lincoln was home with our (totally awesome) babysitter, and when I got home around 6:30 pm there was a stack of 6-8 pieces lying next to the wood stove. I knew they weren't there when I left. When I asked Lincoln if he did his chores while the babysitter was here and he was proud to report that he did. This was a huge success in his independently taking responsibility for the task of providing heat for the family.
I think the single most important part of our parenting success was upholding our expectations on a consistent basis. When we ask Lincoln, "Have you done your chore today?," he knows he needs to do it, and that's it. He will still try and bargain to do it later, but usually it gets done right away.
Lincoln is beginning to understand that chores are about contributing. I am fortunate to have parents and in-laws who are tremendously helpful with taking care of our two kids. Now I can send Lincoln to his grandparents house I can suggest at drop-off that he offer to do some "chore" to help out. I am not sure how helpful he is, but at least I can hope that he is less of a pain in the ass than normal.
What kind of success or failures have you had with implementing chores. How young is too young? I would love to get your thoughts and feedback!
Read more from Caitlin at www.traditionalfoodsmodernlife.com
Photo Credit: Chrissy from On the Road Photography