Question of the Day – Kids and Chores

Okay, here’s today’s question of the day:

How much of a stickler for details are you when your kids do a chore?

I ask this because I don’t know if I’m expecting too much of my kids.

Here’s the way things usually play out:

The boys are supposed to do their chores. They know what chores they are supposed to do—there are no surprises and yet I have to remind them. Anyway, they have been shown how to do the chore properly. However, they still try to do a 30-minute job in 5 minutes and then get all bent-out-of-shape when I point out all the stuff they missed or did half-ass.

So, to “solve” my problem, I wrote out step-by-step instructions on how to clean the bathroom. This way the expectations are fully explained, so there are no excuses. If this doesn’t seem to work, I’m going to turn it into a checklist that they have to check off as they complete the chore.

We’ll see if this works. I gotta do something different. I keep doing the same things over and over again but expect different results. Something’s gotta change!

Why is this important? Because there is a right and a wrong way to do things (the bathroom is either clean or it is not). I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in expecting them to do the job correctly. Maybe I’m at fault for not explaining my expectations clearly. Someday they will be working for an employer and knowing how to do the job right will be important.

Thoughts? Would you like me to post my step-by-step instructions?

13 thoughts on “Question of the Day – Kids and Chores”

  1. Mine do it until mama is satisfied w/the quality of the job. No computer/tv, etc until I’m happy. Sooner or later they’ll get it!

  2. You are facing a hard problem, haha. My one tip is to don’t use your kids to do the things you wouldn’t normally do. If you wouldn’t normally clean your bathroom every day, don’t expect your kids to. It has only been a few (okay, ten or so) years since I was doing chores for my parents, and I definitely remember being able to tell the difference between a reasonable request (cleaning the cat box daily because it smells otherwise), and an unreasonable request (cleaning the bathroom or sweeping daily, regardless of whether it was necessary). Good luck finding out what that balance is though, haha 🙂 Good luck!

  3. There’s no question that allowing your kids to consistently get away with half-assing jobs is doing them a disservice that will haunt them later in life. Just make sure that you’re approaching the chore in question with a sense of balance. A sock drawer that’s not laid out with the colors corresponding to the visible electromagnetic spectrum is not the equivalent of skidmarks in the toilet bowl, after all.

    As far as creating step-by-step instructions, I wonder if those might just prove to be more frustration for you in the end – I don’t think that your problem is likely to prove to be unclear expectations. It’s much more likely to prove to be unmotivated minio…I mean, kids. Find the right motivation, and see if that gets the results you expect.

  4. from management point of view, you 100% should give out checklist. you are delegate a task to them and you should establish your expectation upfront clearly. otherwise you should not blame them if things come out unexpected. and you will ruin your reputation.

    a checklist is better than instruction. instruction prevent your kids from their creativity to do things. maybe they will find their own way, which is better than yours. maybe they can not find, and that will be the right moment you teach them the right way and they will remember it. good learning process.

    one warning here, make sure they are not too creative… and watch out for safety…

  5. I had the same problem with my husband (who was not required to do chores as a child). I found a checklist worked wonders.

  6. Check lists are a great idea, kids actually love that stuff. They like to see they are doing something. Laminate it or print a bunch of copies so they can actually physically cross off the items as they do it and then have them bring it to you to sign. It gives them the control of doing it and checking it off and you have to trust that they did it if they check it off, but you can go back and check without them knowing to make sure they did it.

    List making is a great skill for future planning. Too many kids skate by in school and then freak when they get to college and have plan thier time. Then they have to actually waste credit hours and money on classes for organizing your time.

  7. How old are your boys? The reason I ask is because chores, as well as your expectations, should be age appropriate.

    For example, my daughter’s primary household chore (other than cleaning her own room) is to clean the kitchen. She’s been doing it since she was 9 or 10. However, when she first began “cleaning” the kitchen, it meant loading dishes to wash in the diswasher, unloading, putting them away, and wiping down the counters. Occassionally, I would have to re-wash a dish or go over the counters again with a cleaner.

    By age 13, she was responsible for handwashing the pots and pans too. Now that she’s 16, she’s responsible for doing everything in the kitchen – including cleaning the stove (inside and out) and sweeping/scrubbing the floor.

    Prior to age 16, I did not expect her to REALLY “clean” the kitchen because I knew she’d never meet MY expectations of “clean.” When I say clean, I mean ALL dishes clean and put away, not a speckle or spot on my flatware/glassware, and a floor I can eat off if I’m so inclined. So gradually, I taught her how to do age appropriate things and finished the rest myself. But now that she fully understands and is fully capable of “cleaning” the kitchen, she knows if it does not pass inspection, there are consequences. After waking her up one or two times in the middle of the night to “re-do” something in the kitchen, I rarely have a problem now. But again, teaching her how to “clean” the kitchen was a gradual process that took years to perfect.

    Depending on other chores, I choose my battles. For ex: now that she has a bathroom in her bedroom, she’s also responsible for cleaning that bathroom. Her version of a clean bathroom doesn’t meet MY standards of a clean bathroom, but she’s the only person who uses it, so I don’t press the issue.

    If it becomes more of a chore for YOU, I’d recommend you consider the following:

    1 – it may not be age appropriate and just easier for you to do it yourself, it will save a lot of frustration for all involved.

    2 – give them a similar chore on a smaller scale. ex: instead of the main family bathroom, they could clean one of the powder rooms.


    3 – lower your expectations. ex: clothes picked up, toilet paper on roll, soap in dispenser, no “visible” ring around sink, tub or toilet.

    Kids will be kids, but chore time should NOT be a chore for YOU.

  8. Your expectations should be age-appropriate. Checklists help. But I always go back to finding their currency. Do you pay for the chore? If so, let them know what the price for it is (what you’ll pay if it is done, done well and done the first time). Then, let them know what the discount price is. The discount price is what you’re going to pay if the chore isn’t done to expectations the first time (and, by the way, they still have to go back and finish it to your standards). This works for my kids. They already think I don’t pay well. Paying even less for the same work kills them!

  9. Piggybacking on what Jamie said, I think I recall that you give them an allowance each week for the chores that they do. Perhaps assign a value to each chore and then for each checklist item they miss deduct a certain amount. One week of not getting an allowance or a smaller allowance should get across how serious you are.

    Of course I don’t have kids so I may be an idealist 🙂

  10. We always split something big like “clean the bathroom” into a written checklist, and then assigned even the most minor of items. We called it “choosing jobs” and we always rotated who chose first. That way nobody had the toilet twice in a row.

    The checklist was very explicit: My brother would have to “rinse then scrub the soap dish” while my sister had “Windex and wipe the mirror”, etc.

  11. Ah, the never ending jobs dilemma. I’ve got four children, between 10 and 6. I find that working beside them gives me the satisfaction of a job done correctly, makes it more fun for them, and helps them to learn the tasks without me getting all freaked out. I’m not physically able to help everyone with their jobs every day (I’m just outnumbered!), but I do try to be a willing partner as often as possible. Of everything I’ve tried, this works the best for us. It is a commitment of time on my part, but their skills are consistently improving and I can see that they will soon be able to do the jobs “right” without any assistance.

    Checklists didn’t work for my family, but if they work for yours, the do it!

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