How to divide chores around the home and get kids involved

man and woman washing dishes together at kitchen sink

Danny Baggs

Posted June 10, 2022


Is there anything we dislike doing more than household chores? It may come as no surprise then that chores and cleanliness create conflict in the home. Here’s how to divide chores around the home fairly – kids included.

Chores and cleanliness are major points of contention in Victorian homes, new survey data has revealed.

In a survey of 124 RACV Members, 41 per cent said that chore division creates conflict in the home, while 64 per cent reported that ‘different levels or standards of cleanliness’ is a cause for conflict.

When it comes to kids lending a hand, just 20 per cent of survey respondents noted that their kids had always helped with chores around the house, while 49 per cent waited until they felt their children were physically capable.

More than a third of parents gave their children pocket money to complete chores, while 35 per cent opt for praise over monetary incentives and other rewards systems.

If you feel that you’re doing more than your fair share of chores, it’s time to divvy up those household tasks more equitably with your partner, kids or housemates.

infographic describing when parents decide to give their children chores

Only 20 per cent of kids are always expected to complete chores. Image: June Pearson


Best ways to divide household chores

Negotiate a fair schedule

Make some time to sit down with your household members and go through all the daily, weekly and monthly chores that need to be completed in your house. Once you have this list, you can negotiate who does what. Make sure you openly discuss which chores you dislike and which you don’t mind. If there's a chore you all hate doing, agree to trade it off each time.

During these discussions, keep in mind that nobody’s time is more or less important than anyone else’s. Logistics labour – the ‘mental load’ of cataloguing and keeping track of the household’s chores and calendar – should be divided equally between the household.

Calmly discuss any frustrations

It’s okay if you’re feeling frustrated by how your household members handle their allotted chores. When your chore division isn’t working out, wait until you’re calm before having a discussion. Negative absolutes like “You never...” or “I do everything” are not helpful: rather than being eye-opening, these kinds of phrases provoke a defensive reaction.

Start the conversation by expressing gratitude for tasks well done, then use ‘I’ statements (“I feel...”, “I would like it if...”) to clearly explain what new or changed behaviour you would like to see. Use this opportunity to define what ‘done’ means for each task, so you never feel short-changed.

 

household chore schedule

A chore schedule may help your household stay on top of tasks. Image: June Pearson


Create good habits

Just like any good habit, completing household chores don’t come naturally to most people. Between work, hobbies, kids and maintaining your relationships, it’s easy to let household chores and maintenance fall by the wayside. To resolve this issue, perhaps you could assign certain chores to do on certain days. Alternatively, you could agree that your household will simultaneously complete the week’s chores at a specific time. That way you can pump up some music, feel a sense of camaraderie as you clean, and celebrate with a fun activity together afterwards. Make sure you’re also learning how to quickly and expertly clean your home.

Hire a trained professional

When push comes to shove, you might find that your household just doesn’t have the capacity to complete certain chores or maintenance tasks. In fact, survey data reveals that 48 per cent of respondents check their smoke alarm less than once a year, while 38 per cent of respondents only clean their gutters when they are clogged. 

There’s no shame in hiring a professional cleaner or accredited tradesperson to undertake household chores or tasks that you dislike, or that are outside your skillset or comfort zone. Not only will you ensure that the job gets done properly, but you will also buy yourself more free time.

“Accredited tradespeople are often the best and safest choice when it comes to maintenance tasks like cleaning gutters, replacing smoke alarms, fixing leaks or servicing an air conditioner,” said Kieran Davies, Head of Home Trades & Services for RACV Trades.

With over 50,000 ladder fall victims presenting to Victorian hospital emergency departments each year, it’s especially important to consider hiring a trained professional when performing chores and tasks around the home that involve the use of a ladder.

 

man clearing leaves from rooftop gutter

Trained professionals may be needed for household tasks involving a ladder, such as gutter cleaning. Image: Getty


How to get kids involved in chores around the home

Decide when to give your kids chores

The earlier you start teaching your kids to safely and satisfactorily complete household chores, the better they will be at maintaining cleanliness and helpfulness as teenagers and adults. Many child development experts agree that children can start learning to complete chores from two years old.

Make the household chores specific

A general chore like ‘clean your room’ is too vague for most children. Similarly, teenagers might have a different idea of what ‘clean’ means. Break each chore down into small, manageable tasks for your kids to complete. You could use a colourful chore chart for kids to tick off each task as they finish it – ‘put toys in the toy box’, ‘make your bed’ and ‘hang clothes in the closet’, for example – before crossing off the overarching task.

 

young boy tidies away his toys into a basket

Even very young children can complete basic chores. Image: Getty


Use positive reinforcement

Household chores are generally boring, and it can be hard to get children and teenagers to do their fair share as a result. Many parents turn to financial incentives and other rewards to help entice their kids to help around the house. Praise and encouragement are remarkably successful in making both children and adults feel rewarded for completing boring tasks.

If you’re unsure whether to give your kids pocket money, consider a blended system. Certain chores can be considered a part of contributing to the family, while extra chores can be offered to your kids for bonus pocket money. Washing the car is a great example.

 


RACV Trades can help get your home in order.
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