Advice needed please!

I have this issue that I need some help with, and just to let you know this has nothing to do with fitness, or weight loss, or anything to do with healthy living.  It’s about my kids, my son in particular.   Monkey* is 11 and he is dangerously close to becoming one of those lazy, video game playing, TV-addicted kids, you know, the kind of kid we all hope our kids DON’T turn out to be.  He is very quiet, introspective, and doesn’t give us much trouble at all, but he has no drive or ambition whatsoever.  He does not have an aggressive bone in his skinny little body.   My issue is…


Summer Chores (gasp! No!  Not Summer Chores!!!)


 I know, I know, but just hear me out. 


I feel like this is the summer where he either learns how be responsible and grows into a decent human being, or he becomes completely lazy and lives with his parents until he is 30 (I CANNOT, for the sake of my own sanity, let that happen).    Also, my daughter SuzyQ* is 7, and Priss* is 3 and I know they are old enough to be helping out some as well.  I don’t expect a lot of Priss of course, but it’s never too early to start. 


I will admit, I have been at fault for not being consistent with chores, and I let them get away with not helping out far more often than I should have, but I’m at a point where I cannot do it all by myself anymore.  When I was a SAHM, sure I could do most of it, but not anymore, not with working full time, and running to different activities and such.  


We have tried charts and tickets and stickers, but nothing seems to hold their interest for very long.  I have always started with the intention of paying them for their chores, but honestly sometimes, I just can’t afford it, and really should they be paid for helping out around the house? 


So what do you all do?  What works or did work for you when your kids were young?  And what kinds of jobs do you think are appropriate for an 11 year old boy and a 7 year old girl? 


And what do you do if the chores don’t get done?  Do you ground them, or take away their toys?  This is also something I have trouble with – I don’t have a set example of what happens when they fail to do their chores.  



I am anxious to hear what you all have to say about this, so please leave a comment!  I would like to start this as soon as possible and I’ll post some of your ideas tomorrow so feel free to share!  Thanks!!



*obviously not their real names, but these are their real nicknames. This is what I call them most of the time anyway.     

12 thoughts on “Advice needed please!

  1. Get out of my brain!!!! Jill I was thinking about this last weekend with Fang Jr. (also 11). I did chores at this age and probably younger and my mother was a SAHM. A couple of months ago, the hubby tried getting him to put up the clean dishes in the dishwasher and he immediately dropped a glass that shattered and of course he was bare foot. He doesn’t do anything neatly.

    Before school he is supposed to make his bed and make sure the pet guinea pigs (hello! trailer park trash!) have food and water. Also feed his beta fish. Puts his breakfast dishes into the dishwasher.

    After school, take his lunch box out of his backpack and put the ice thingie back into the freezer. (Rarely does this happen).

    On weekends he picks up leaves and sticks in the yard before hubby mows. Hubby wanted to teach him how to mow the lawn this past spring, but I know this kid would accidentally cut off his feet because he just isn’t the type to pay attention to stuff like that. My husband pays him $3/week?!!! For making his own freaking bed 1/2 the time. Grrr.

    So anyway, Saturday I made out a chore list for Fang Jr. – went into detail of how to do everything – dust his furniture – pick-up everything off floor and put into proper place – empty trash – scrub his toilet (I swear he has canine in him since he usually misses the bowl, like he’s marking his territory).

    Since getting the dog, he takes him out first thing in the morning, feeds him and takes him out at night before bed.

    I think 11 year olds should probably be able to keep their own room clean, clean their own toilet, put away their clean clothes, put up dishes out of the dishwasher, empty all trash cans, and take care of all pet needs. And I taught Fang Jr. how to bake his own cookies and make mac-n-cheese. I bet they could vacuum too, only if everything was off the floor.

  2. Jill , you and that GC always make me LOL..literally. She gave great advice btw..can I just say that I am sickened that my going to be a 4th grader in a week…and in October , he’ll be 10..double digits…nauseous. Did you go thru this denial..or am I just a little goofy? We have tried the allowance for chores route but since there isn’t a whole lotta follow thru in this house..It usually doesn’t work..However..just like I am trying to do with myself..and like GC said (sort of), I use checklists. I printed them out on cardstock and laminated them and put them around the house. Not really cute for formal dinner parties..but I don’t have them anyway. I did take them down before hubs poker night b/c I didn’t want the dads to give my little man a hard time about our checklists. He has them for many areas–bathroom, kitchen,etc. They are about 5 items long and he needs to do them all. I started this when he was in 2nd grade,,For example, eating..1,remain seated 2. use silverware (we start pretty basic) 3. when finished,clear your dishes and put in sink. I have these little lists all over the house..and THESE THINGS BECAME HABITS!!!! They aren’t any major chores..but he feeds the dog, clears plates,puts things away– is what worked for us. We used to give rewards,when he was younger..Now..he doesn’t seem to need them..Sometimes, I will reward him with something and let him know that we are proud of the things he has been doing..and review them. Goof luck…I am lucky I have you as a mentor for the boy double digit years…oh and girl too as my girl is 6. Ok..chores for 7yr old girl..keep room tidy, make bad, feed pet, clean dishes..mine likes to swift or swivel sweep. ok–that’s what I have to add for today. 🙂 I don’t even know if I made sense..I just kept typing and typing.

  3. Hi there…Sadly, I don’t have any advise for you, but I do know that raising children is super hard. I have a 2 year old and had NO idea in the amount of work involved. It’s constant and ever changing. There are challenges and opportunities at every step and the issues that are yours we will all be facing at some time. Best of luck to you and be persistent.

  4. my mother has a neighbor who is afraid to have (7th grade) son MOW because he is “not athletic”.

    I look at that kid – whose mom does everything for him – and say to my girls – don’t EVER date/marry that kind of kid.

    My husband was a bit that way – in retrospect – but got over it quickly. (We have been married since 1986)

    I have never paid kids for being part of the family/taking care of themselves or the house – nor for grades.

    My big line – “if you don’t like it – then leave the same way you came – naked and stupid.”

  5. I guess I would suggest Baby Steps. Not black and white, not all or nothing. If you are working on something that is “new” to your family – or has a bad track record – then I suppose choosing your battles wisely is smart.

    I have a very hard time “getting going” myself. so around here, we tend to do things early and to get them out of the way. But on school days – I don’t expect much of anything EXTRA before school.

    And I think it is important to be clear – what is expected.

    I don’t pay – but I also don’t threaten consequences. It almost seems as if that is saying – I am already planning for the fact that you are not going to do this.

    My kids are very orgainized and very responsible for themselves. Some are neater than others.

    We are not super neat or clean as a family. But we are always ON TIME and always prepared. And that is what I care the most.

    My bathroom is definitely the dirty-est in the house – always. Girls is super clean. Son’s is average.

    The stairs is the only thing that I can think of as an example. Son tends to let things pile up on the stairs (he is the only one with a bed/bathroom up there). Rather than nagging – if it gets piled – I just state the facts – safety hazard – if it is still there by 8pm – I will put it in a bin and put it in the attic.

    My favorite kid messiness story-
    friend with 5 kids. Youngest was a messy, messy kid. this really bugged the mom. Mom packed up all this child’s stuff. Left her one change of clothes and one pair of PJ’s and her toothbrush. EVERY thing else was packed. Mom washed the change of clothes each night. The kid’s stuff stayed clean – because there was nothing to mess up. The kid was actually relieved about the whole thing – much less stressful. The kid was able to earn back things – as she missed them – by doing extra chores around the house. (THis family has a job chart on the fridge – parents are included in the job chart). the kid NEVER did want it all back – because it was TOO much.

    I think as a group – we all (in fat blog land) seem to have too much ourselves. Parring down the STUFF seems to be part of the parring down the fat.

    I know this was a BIG part of my process.

    My house has areas that are still messy. And deifinitely areas that are still dirty. and areas that are “in process” like 4 folding tables in the kitchen with my picutre project spread out all over them. But mostly – I have whole rooms that stay clutter free now.

    So, I guess – start out small – with SOMETHING that is important – and work on that and when that is a sucess – move on to the next thing.

    PS – am I the only mom in the world that leaves notes for the maids in hotel rooms – saying PLEASE DON’T make the beds? I hate when I get the covers arranged just right and they move everything. making beds is not one of the things – that I personally – make a priority. But getting to school with all the right things – in the right clothes – without my having to get involved – IS.

    PPS – if cold packs don’t make it back in the freezer – there are lunches that don’t have to stay cold. when they get tired of PBJ and water and applesauce pack – they will start getting them, back in freezer.

  6. I just want to say yea for you that you are thinking about this now and doing something about it. I have three girls ages 18,17 and 13 although they are fantastic kids I do sometimes list in my head all the things that they still need to learn to live on their own! I know it sounds crazy but you will never have more time to teach them stuff then you do right now! As they get older they are home less and they will have more school work and outside activities. It’s easy to let things slide because they seem so busy…. However your relationship with them will be so much better if you are able to teach them simple responsibilies now! And I suggest that you teach them to wake up on their own and DO NOT wake them up while they sleep thru their alarms. And secondly, they should get in the habit of preparing for the day the night before. Papers signed,things gathered and packed.

    As far as chores, things that need to be done daily are better teaching chores, sweeping after supper (even if it doesn’t really need it), unloading dishwasher. One load of laundry per day. pets etc. as others have said.

    Don’t overload them though or you will both burn out. Add one chore and then when that’s mastered hand out a priviledge.(not a reward)

    You are going to do great though, I can tell, it will be more work for you at first but it will be worth it!

  7. Okay Jill, just a post to make you LOL. Childrearing advice from someone who’s never had kids! But I was a kid once–doesn’t that count? Jeanette hinted at the one thing I have noticed over the years. It is usually more work for you to get someone to do something new than it is to just do it yourself. So, most of the time we just do it ourself. But it is of course more benefit to the person you are teaching, and eventually will be more benefit to you. So you might have to work alongside the kids for a while.

    My parents were tough in some ways but I don’t think unreasonable in others. By the time we were 11, I think we pretty much did the chores we were asked to do, even if we did grumble some of the time. On Saturdays there was no question that we would do the chores BEFORE any fun activities that were planned for the day. But thinking back, we really didn’t slave for hours. Probably an hour’s worth of work at the most. We got an allowance, not paid for chores. Once in a while there was some extra work offered for extra money. The funniest thing my mom did (not funny at the time) was to take EVERYTHING out of our closet and put it in a giant pile in the middle of the floor and tell us she was taking it to the Goodwill. Boy did we move fast. My brother said his stuff made it all the way to the garbage cans in the back yard! Obviously we had closet cleaning issues. Come to think of it I still do!

  8. that last comment made me think of all the drawer dumping that we used to talk about on amazon – nuns and mothers that see a messy drawer and dump it all over the place. I personally disagree with that – because it is disrespectful. Putting it in a box and putting it somewhere safe/dry is a better solution.

    perhaps an easy way to get started is to say something like – We have some household things to finish and then how about if we all head to the movies this afternoon? Let’s work hard at __________________until it is done and then all go.

    And Alicia – I have a kid that used to “mess up” chores so that he didn’t have to do them too. The answer? The kid that drops and breaks glasses needs a LOT of practice at loading the dishwasher. He might need a lot of practice at other related things too.

  9. I am just waiting anxiously to mooch answers off your comments!! 😉 I have an 11 year old boy too…..and he isnt lazy 100% of the time….just when it comes to doing stuff around the house. Sadly, his nickname (between my Hubby and I) is *half-ass*….cause that’s how he does EVERYTHING.

    So bring on the good suggestions….I need some too!! 😉

  10. I don’t know if this will help, but this is what I’ve just started. We’re still in the beginning phases & working out some kinks, but it seems to be working. My kids are 8,6 & 4. I made chore charts and let the younger ones draw pictures next to the list to remind them. Their chores involve sweeping, vacuuming, taking care of the dog, making beds and keeping their rooms clean. They each keep their chart in their room and check it throughout the day. Each chore is worth a straw & they have seven chores each. At the beginning of the day I put their 7 straws in a container that has 2 areas. They can lose straws for not completing their chores or for any behavior that we feel is inappropriate (we talked about these beforehand, made a list and stuck it on the fridge) ex. hitting is a 2 straw offense plus time out. At the end of the day the straws left are moved over from the “days” straws to the “earned” straws and the kid w/ the most straws that day get a bonus straw, then those can be used to “buy” things. Ex. 30 minutes of tv or video games is 3 straws, going to a friends or having a friend over is 6 straws. The kids seem to like having the responsibilities and since everything is predetermined from the chores to the offenses to the consequences there are no surprises.

  11. I have been thinking about this posting non stop since yesterday – very interesting to see everyone’s ideas.

    i realized that one of my big break through moments was when i realized it was MUCH easier to live life with my kids and I being “on the same” side of the fence than at odds with each other.

    And I am very honest to the kids that they need to know how to do all the household things – so that they know how to take care of themselves, so someone will WANT to marry them, so that the someone that they marry doesn’t wonder if my head was up my butt for their whole childhood (that is my 18 year old son’s favorite one), and so that they can take care of their own kids some day. Circle of Household Life – I guess.

    My oldest leaves for college the middle of August. There is nothing that I am worried about – he knows how to do car stuff, laundry stuff, eating stuff, planning/scheduling, bank, etc. I have spent a LOT of time learning to keep my mouth shut until he ASKS and then to give suggestions that answer his questions and then to LET him do it himself. I have spent a lot of time with my hands in my pockets.

    and I realized yesterday that going to the pool each day – every summer – probably helped us all a lot – because we all went together and we all did household stuff (together) before we went.

    don’t picture me with a CLEAN, perfect house. Because it is not. Parts are very uncluttered and clean. Other parts are just de-cluttered.

    My biggest step forward –
    was de-cluttering.
    Life is much simpler.

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