How can I have chores for my kids when they go back and forth to my ex’s house all the time?
My friend Lucia is one of those ladies who looks polished and arrives places on time, with well-behaved children and snacks. She has things together and it shows. So, it’s not surprising there would be some disconnect between the way she expects her girls to act and the way they act when they are at their dad’s house. Let’s just say, Dad isn’t quite as organized.
Most children are not raised solely by one adult. There are the kids in traditional, two-parent homes. Some spend time at grandma’s or have a sitter after school. Considering the little village raising your child, a large first step in creating a viable chore routine is to get all involved adults on board as much as possible.
Last week you thought of your motivation for assigning chores. This week I have some practical ideas for you and for my friend, Lucia, to get your chores for kids routine rolling this spring.
Whether your kids spend time in two homes or with multiple care givers (mom, dad, sitter, Nana), create a List of Family Expectations, (This attached example is for toddlers. It’s from our house circa 2008) and print and display a copy in both houses.
For elementary children, here are some examples of expectations you could include in your family’s list:
- When someone is talking, try your best to wait until they are finished with their idea.
- When you are asked to help someone, respond with a level head.
- Helping each other makes the whole family better!
- Screen time is earned by doing all of your chores for the day
- Piano practice happens every day
- Getting clean happens every day
- Flossing happens every day
It is possible for divorced parents to share a list of family expectations. You have to find some common ground and emphasize it for the kids’ sake. Start with basic manners and kindness, everyone wants their kids to have those traits, right?
It is also possible for your children to do their chores when someone else is watching them. That’s where fostering good habits comes in.
For all types of parents
No matter their living situation, it helps kids to have a sense of continuity. Lists or posted reminders are good ways to foster continuity. And if you, the adult, have a hard time remembering a new habit/chore that’s added to the rotation, a posted sign will help you as well. Speaking of continuity, here’s a parenting tip from my esteemed colleague Standolyn Robertson,
I made chore cards for my boys when they were little. Each card had step by step instructions for the chore. The expectation was always the same.
This idea of chore cards is a good place to start. In any case, pretty much anything Standolyn says, I try. She is just that kind of awesome.
My Sweep the Kitchen chore card has ten detailed steps which are very specific: from #1- move the barstools out of the room, to #10- return the barstools to the counter.
Keep each card near the place where the chore happens–stuck to the wall or inside a cabinet door (like our bathroom card shown above). Laminate the cards with clear packing tape or a fancy-pants laminator. You can even type up a list and add graphics for Pinterest points.
I had them do each chore rotation for 2 months. Standolyn adds, It takes time to get good at it– to develop pride and take ownership. If you are watering plants, you do not want the plants to die on your watch.
Other ideas for keeping it consistent:
- Designate a chore day/time that happens each week.
- Use a wall calendar for each child. They get an X for each day they do a chore. The Xs create a visual chain.
- Post chores for kids in the same place every time. (all kinds of chore charts, bells, and whistles next week. Stay tuned!)
Any tricks you can share with us? Please comment below.
To get you started, here is a list of some age-appropriate chores to consider.
Another great (and kind) resource for parents: the Parent Hacks website