The Job Jar

There’s no way around it: If you want to get serious about keeping on top of household chores, you’re going to have to get your kids involved.

Here are a few tips on getting your own family work corps up and running:

First, list all of the jobs that need to be done around the house. Then figure out which jobs can be handled by family members of various ages. Children as young as 3, for example, can help with tasks such as matching up clean socks, putting away clean laundry and picking up their own toys.

When assigning jobs, be clear about the scope of the job (e.g. does “doing laundry” mean just throwing it in the washing machine, or does it mean drying and folding it, too?); how often you expect it to be done; and how well you expect it to be done (e.g. does clearing the table involve stacking the dirty dishes on the counter or loading them into the dishwasher?)

If there are jobs that everyone hates to do, write them on slips of paper and throw them into a job jar. Shake the jar and have each family member draw a job. You’ll still get some griping, but it won’t be as loud as if you were to arbitrarily assign a much-despised task to one particular child.

Come up with creative ways to make chore time fun. Throw on your child’s favorite music so she can listen to it while she picks up her toys, or tell jokes while you fold laundry together. You might not have as much fun doing housework as Martha Stewart seems to, but you can certainly give it your best shot!

Remember that you’ll have plenty of years to live in a pristine house. The name of the game now is to keep the health department at bay, not to get your home featured in Better Homes and Gardens.

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