the results from the CathFamily survey:
70% of you are not satisfied with your current housework arrangement
75% of you would like to see your children contribute more.
How you delegate housework…
65% of you introduce your kids to housework at ages 3-5 years. Most of this might not be surprising; it gets more interesting when we asked for the strategies that work for you.
The most frequent method was using rotating rosters and lists with 22% of respondents using them.
“When the kids were little we had a roster on the fridge for the chores they could do. Now they are older, I am very big on leaving lists on the kitchen bench. They are pretty good at dividing the tasks among themselves and getting the jobs done – happy mum, happy life!” – Anon
The second most frequently mentioned method was emphasising individual responsibility. The most common situation was Mum and Dad taking care of the major tasks and the kids being tasked with cleaning up their mess, folding their laundry, making sure their school bag is packed properly etc, often with natural consequences being enforced.
“My husband and I share the house chores. We don’t set tasks. Just simply helping each other out in order to create a comfortable home for the family. Kids are responsible to look after their rooms and pack away their belongings such as school bags, lunch bag and shoes. Also put away their bowls and spoons in the kitchen sink after each meal. They sometimes help out with vacuum cleaning!” – Bernice
A large chunk of respondents had a task assignment strategy which was either individual tasks or a combination of individual and shared tasks like cleaning up after dinner. The most impressive assignment system was this one:
“I take into account age, amount of homework, behaviour, and the chores to be done before I assign the work. Then I give a time frame to complete it and as long as it is done within that time frame, we’re all good.” – Blanca
32% of respondents would recommend incentives as a major strategy for getting the kids involved. However, there was a caveat in that incentives were tied to privileges, or a special outing, or a portion of their pocket money rather than material things.
“I think it’s reasonable for them to be paid a little bit for some jobs & have other jobs just because they are part of a family…” – Anon
Most people who mentioned incentives also talked about consequences, usually the natural consequences of not getting things done. One of the most creative consequences was this one:
“Show them how important it is for everyone to contribute by NOT doing something that is considered your job. Then when they complain you can explain to them that just like it is your responsibility to do that job it is also theirs to help around the house.” – Blanca
The second was having clear expectations and standards. A lot of frustration from both parents and children comes from not articulating the definition of ‘clean’. Your child may have vacuumed all the visible dirt, but his little sister has asthma and frequent vacuuming of hard-to-get places reduces the dust, helping her breathe easier. Your child will be frustrated because they believe they are doing their job, but it’s still ‘not done’! One respondent put it this way:
“Tell them you need to work as a team, and have a family meeting to set jobs. Let them choose what jobs to do (with some direction) and show them how to do the job to your standard. You may have to show them, do it with them and then watch them to get it right but it’s worth it.” – Anon
Another frequent mention was gratitude. 11% strongly emphasised how important it was to acknowledge every contribution and thank your kids (and your spouse too!) for them.
“Let them know the importance of helping each other in the family and how much you appreciate their help. Acknowledge their contributions! – Bernice
“Commend for their hard effort even though it’s not according to your expectations.” – Shey
Even if the job is not absolutely perfect, that is okay. The job might be too much for them and might need to be renegotiated. 15% of you talked about choices and negotiation (within limits) around who does what and when it should be done.
So there you have it! We loved getting your responses and we have left the survey open so if you haven’t contributed you are still free to do so! We will definitely revisit this topic in the future and we’d love to hear from more of you.
If you would like a further breakdown of the stats and info, we’ll be putting up a more detailed post with graphs! See here.
Our SmartLoving column will break down some of the marriage related data and also give some insights and tips from the experts on dealing with housework and building your marriage at the same time!
Read too: A conversation about housework