How to Get Kids to Stop Whining & Help With Chores

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Do you have suggestions on how to motivate you children to help with chores and how to minimize whining? I would greatly appreciate any advice. -Amanda

First off, Amanda, I just want to encourage you: your desire to train and teach your kids to work will be such a gift to them. Truly.

You see, my parents were very committed to instilling in us the value of hard work from an early age. And I’m so grateful!

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For as long as I can remember, I had chores that were assigned to me and I was expected to do. When we moved out to the country when I was 10 years old, I was given even more chores and learned more what hard work is all about.

I spent hours when I was in the my early teens working in the garden, watering trees, and mowing our huge yard. At the time, I didn’t necessarily love the chores, but looking back, I’m so grateful my parents taught us the value of hard work and instilled in us a strong work ethic.

In fact, I believe that a strong work ethic is one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me. It well prepared me for the struggles and setbacks I’ve encountered in the years since I’ve moved away from home and has helped me continue to persevere even when I might feel exhausted and ready to quit.
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Practically speaking, here are 5 ideas to help minimize whining and encourage your kids to work:

1. Start Small.

Don’t overwhelm your kids with a bunch of new chores at once. Start your children out with one or two simple chores and then gradually add more as they catch on and improve.

In addition, make sure your children need to know what is expected of them when you assign a chore to them. If you never let them know what you expect of them, it will only result in frustration for you — and for them!

Need some age-appropriate chore ideas? Check out this post with some chore ideas for kids of different ages. (Keep in mind, though, that each child is different. What might be simple for one 4-year-old, could be utterly overwhelming to another.)

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2. Be patient.

Training requires repetition. Don’t expect a child to do a job well at first.

Think about when you first started learning to ride a bike or drive a car. You didn’t automatically know how to do it.

You had to practice. You had to slowly learn. You had to make mistakes.

It often takes a lot of repetitive teaching, gentle correcting, and practice before a child can do a job well. Don’t expect perfection–especially when they are young. What matters is that they are putting forth effort and trying their best.

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3. Teach By Example

It’s well be said that, “More is caught than taught”. We can’t expect our children to work hard if they don’t see us working hard.

One great way to encourage them by your example is to have your child work alongside you. Most children love to spend time with Mom, no matter what it is you’re doing. So take advantage of this and enthusiastically invite them to help you with whatever chore you’re working on.

While you’re working together, talk, sing, laugh, and praise them repeatedly for helping you. Let them see you working hard and enjoying it.

Yes, it takes longer, but it’s worth it! I remind myself that my goal as a parent is to work myself out of a job, so the sooner I can teach them to work alongside me, the more help they’ll become as the years go by!

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4. Make it Fun

A few ideas:

  • Turn on Music. We love to turn on upbeat music and sing and dance while working — it’s fun, it makes the time go by quickly and it makes chores much more enjoyable!
  • Have a Race. We often set the timer and have a race to see who can finish their chores first. Or, you can race against the clock, instead of racing against each other or see how many things we can collectively pick up and put away within 10 minutes. When we all work together quickly, it’s amazing how much we can get done in a short amount of time!
  • Use Child-Sized Brooms & Mops. My children got mops for Christmas one year from my parents and it was, by far, the hit present. All the cousins spent the morning cleaning Grandma and Grandpa’s kitchen tile after the presents were opened! And their enthusiasm for using them still hasn’t waned!

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5. Find the Good & Praise It

It’s easy to want to focus on pointing out all the things a child does wrong and where they need to improve.
Instead of dwelling on what they didn’t do right, focus most of your energies on praising those things they did well.

Encouragement and affirmation go a long way. In the same way, criticism and harsh words can do a lot of damage.

Make it a goal to praise 10 times more than you point out areas for improvement. Not only will your words of praise build up your child, but they will motivate and inspire them to continue working hard and developing the character quality of diligence.

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Reward Ideas:

Working for a reward is always more motivating! Figure out what motivates your child and then use that as a reward.

  • Have your child work toward a larger prize. This could be something like a toy or DVD or a date with mom. Create a reward chart for them to track their progress.
  • Give instant rewards. It’s a standing rule at our house that once all of your chores and homework is finished for the afternoon, you can watch a movie or have 30 minutes of iPad time. None of our kids want to miss this time so they are highly motivated to get their chores done!
  • Download an app. Both MyJobChart.com and ChoreMonster offer the ability to assign, track, and reward kids for chores. With MyJobChart.com, you can set up an Amazon store and assign points per chore and prizes for points earned. Once a child completes a job and you sign off on it, they earn points. They can then cash out these points in the Amazon store for prizes you’ve pre-determined.
  • Consider paying your children for some chores. We have paid chores and non-paid chores at our house. The non-paid chores are chores you do as part of contributing to our family. The paid chores are extra chores you can elect to do and get paid for. This system has worked well for our family. You can read more about how it works here.

What advice and suggestions do the rest of you have for Amanda?

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Free one-year National Parks membership if you have a 4th grader!

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If your child will be in the 4th grade next year, your family can get a free National Parks Pass to give you free entry into national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and more!

Here are the details:

To help engage and create our next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates, we are kicking off the Every Kid in a Park initiative. The immediate goal is to provide an opportunity for each and every 4th grade student across the country to experience their public lands and waters in person throughout the 2015-2016 school year.

Soon, you will have access to your own Every Kid in a Park pass. This pass will give you free access to national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and more!

The Every Kid in a Park pass will be available for the 2015-2016 school year.

The program isn’t open yet, but if you sign the petition here, they’ll email you when it’s open.

Thanks, My Frugal Adventures!

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Try hockey for free this Saturday (ages 4-9 — 300 locations nationwide!)

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USA Hockey and over 300 local associations across the country invite you to come try hockey for free on Saturday, February 21, 2015. Participating locations encourage kids ages 4 to 9 to give youth hockey a try as part of the 8th Annual Hockey Weekend Across America.

Click here and enter your ZIP code to find a participating location near you. Locations will have limited equipment available for use.

Thanks, Capitally Frugal DC!

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MOMS: Why You Need to Give Yourself a “Time-Out”

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Not too long ago, I was talking with a mom and I was saying something about the books I was reading. She immediately shot back, “Oh, I love to read but I don’t have time to read because of my kids.”

My heart wanted to break right in two. Having kids is a lot of work. Trust me, I get that.

And it takes a lot of time and effort and work and sacrifice. Motherhood is no walk in the park.

Having your first child flips your world upside down and means that your schedule is no longer your own. You have a whole new set of responsibilities and to-do’s. Not only that, but you have a person who is now depending upon you and your spouse for their sole survival.

It’s a BIG thing. It’s nothing to shirk at. And it can suck the life right out of you — if you let it.

Which is why I’m about to say something that just might step on some toes…

Are you ready? Buckle your seat belts and hold onto your hats, because in the last few years, I’ve become pretty passionate about what I’m about to say:

Motherhood is a lot of work and responsibility, but it is NOT an excuse to stop using your brain and intellect, to stop enjoying life, and to stop taking time for things you love.

There, I said it.

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It’s high time we quit using motherhood as a reason to no longer live life to the fullest, no longer feed our soul and intellect, to no longer enjoy hobbies and relationships like we once did.

Because here’s the truth: one of the BEST things you can do for yourself, your marriage, and your kids is to take time to refuel and refresh yourself. To stop and savor life. To make time for things you love.

Think about it. If you’re just constantly giving and giving and giving out to others, if you’re just pouring and pouring and pouring into your family, if you’re just wringing yourself dry to meet the needs of others and you’re never taking time to replenish, refresh, and refuel, no wonder you feel exhausted and spent!

No wonder you have nothing left to give. No wonder you’re so tired. No wonder you feel brain-fried.

No wonder you feel like you might just snap right in two if one more person asks you to do something or if one more child hollers “MOOOOOMMMMYYYYY!”

As women, we are capable of a lot. We can multi-task. We have “eyes in the back of our head”. We can pull all-nighters when our child is really sick. We can juggle a lot of balls.

But at some point, when a rubber band is stretched out too far for too long, it’s going to snap. At some point, when you keep running on empty, you are truly going to run out of gas and be stranded on the side of the road. At some point, the lack of sleep and running around like a chicken with your head cut off will catch up with you and knock you flat.

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And that’s why I cannot say it strongly enough: Moms, give yourself permission to take time for YOU.

To do things you love.
To have coffee with that friend.
To work on that hobby.
To read that book.
To update your scrapbooks.
To work in the garden.
To S-L-E-E-P!
To piddle around in the kitchen.
To engage in stimulating discussions.
To study new things.
To try new things.

What fills you up? What refreshes you? What makes you come alive? What gets you really excited about life?

Set aside some things you think you “have” to do or “must” do or feel obligated to do to carve out some space to invest time into some of those things you truly love.

Investing in yourself is not selfish. Instead, it gives you more energy to be able to pour more into your relationships, your marriage, your job, and your kids.

P.S. If you wish you could find time to do things you love but you just don’t think you have any extra time at all in your schedule right now, I encourage you to check out Jessica Turner’s book, The Fringe Hours.

I got to read a pre-release copy of the book a few months ago and highly recommend it. It’s a must-read for all busy moms!

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When Valentine’s Day Just Hurts… A word of hope for the heartbroken

When Valentine's Day Just Hurts

As I’ve been scrolling through all the Valentine’s Day posts online the past few days — the posts on marriage, the pictures of the flowers he bought for her, the details of the surprise date they went on — I can’t help but think about all of the people out there that are hurting this Valentine’s Day…

The mom of two whose husband recently walked out on her.

The gal whose heart was broken in pieces when she discovered the love of her life was cheating on her.

The husband whose wife suffered a traumatic brain injury a few years ago and has never recovered.

The wife of twenty years whose marriage is crumbling.

The single girl in her thirties who desperately longs to be married.

The woman who is in an abusive relationship and scared for her life.

The elderly man who lost his wife to cancer ten years ago and misses her more than words can express.

For many, Valentine’s Day is not a day of romantic gestures and beautiful flowers and heartfelt love notes. It’s a day of pain. A day of mourning what was lost — or what one never had in the first place. A day of sadness and loneliness. A day that dredges up old wounds and past hurts.

I don’t know all your stories or struggles or past. But I just felt today like I was supposed to write something for those of you who are hurting this Valentine’s Day. Who are feeling sad, neglected, heartbroken, and/or rejected.

Here’s what I want to tell you:

1. You Are Not a Failure

Despite how someone else has made you feel, despite what the voices in your head are telling you, you are not a failure.

You may have failed in some areas, but falling down and making mistakes does not make you a failure. It just means that you are human.

2. You Matter

You have worth. You have immense value. Do not believe the lies that others or your own head tells you that says you are worthless or are good for nothing.

Note: If you feel this way, I strongly encourage you to read Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly.

3. You Have a Purpose

You have a story. You have unique life experience. You have gifts and talents.

You are the only YOU.

Own the gifts you have been given. They might seem small and insignificant. It might feel like you don’t have much to offer. But offer whatever it is you have to give.

Look for ways to make a difference and bless others. Often, it’s the seemingly small and insignificant things that make the greatest impact.

The world needs your gifts, your talent, your passions, your abilities. Be you, bravely.

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