Managing a home when everyone works
Jinny Hopp, former human development specialist, Jasper County, University of Missouri Extension
We all work hard today! With commuting and demands of the job, nobody has time or energy for housework. Many couples who share a home have a hard time sharing the tasks required to keep a home running smoothly. Many parents aren’t sure what chores are appropriate for children or how to get children to help out around the house.
Children benefit from helping with household chores. They learn responsibility and work habits. However, it is also important for kids to have plenty of time to be kids. If children have excessive household responsibilities, they don’t have time to play and spend time with friends. These activities may not seem as important as chores, but playtime actually helps children develop their talents and learn important skills, such as self-direction and how to interact with others. The key is to give children age-appropriate tasks that do not interfere too much with their other activities.
Getting everyone to help with household chores can be a challenge. Having a family meeting can help. Schedule a meeting with all of those who can take responsibility for tasks. Decide what tasks must be done and how often they have to be accomplished. Decide who can do which jobs. Be sure to allow each family member to have input and listen to each person’s ideas. Some families make a chart to rotate jobs. Some family members have favorite jobs. Many jobs have required standards – use this as an opportunity to teach quality control. A large calendar is an easy way to track who has responsibility for what. After trying out the plan for a week or two, have another family meeting to talk about how well it is working. Make any changes that are needed at that time.
Some household tasks can be done as a family activity, which can help create a sense of closeness. Children can help sort unused clothing and toys for a family fund raiser or yard sale. Perhaps the proceeds can be used for family fun. These activities might even become new family traditions. Working together as a family to accomplish household tasks helps everything get done, creates a sense of family togetherness, and teaches children responsibility.
For more information about balancing work and family visit http://www.familiesandwork.org/.
You can also refer to the following MU Extension publications:
- Challenges and Choices: Time Effectiveness — Prioritizing Your Time (GH6653)
- Family Councils: The Key Is Communication (GH6641)
Last Updated 03/22/2010