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iStock 000007504991XSmallAs my youngest kids are becoming more independent and capable, I'm finding they're able to help more around the house, so I thought I'd talk about this again; it's been while. Here's a previous article about delegating chores.  If you live with your partner and/or kids, this one is for you. Actually it would apply to shared accommodation as well, though I know that can be even harder to manage.

Basically, it's my view that all capable members of a household should contribute as they are able to. It's good manners, it's fair and it makes sense. Even in a home with domestic staff, household members should be capable of cleaning up after themselves and showing courtesy to others.

For kids in particular, I think it's important for them to learn good manners and basic skills.

In my house, I work on (yeah, I still have to work on it) having everyone keep their own room tidy, clean up after themselves by putting their things away, putting their dirty washing in the laundry baskets (with socks untangled and sorted into lights and darks), putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher, wiping the kitchen bench and the table, folding and putting away their own clean washing. The kids also help with feeding and cleaning up after pets, emptying the rubbish bin and the recycling, cleaning the toilet and bathroom, sweeping, vacuuming and mopping, emptying the dishwasher, putting things on the shopping list and putting groceries away when I've done the shopping. Everyone helps clean up after meals (yeah ok, in theory). My 16 year old knows how to operate the dishwasher and washing machine. She can even make spaghetti from scratch (a recent improvement from being able to boil the pasta and heat up the sauce I already made).

I know, they do complain, quite a lot as it happens. Here's the thing. Complaining happens more after a relapse of letting them not do much – the more they accept it as normal and get into a routine (meaning you get into a routine of making it happen), the less they bother to complain.

Also, it's crucial that you do accept and fully believe yourself that getting everyone to help is the right thing to do, because if you doubt it and feel guilty, they'll smell that a mile away.

If any doubt creeps in, remind yourself of the seven thousand other things you do to manage the home that are un-seen. (And remind them sometimes while you're at it). Make a list and you'll find it goes on and on. Paperwork, banking, errands, shopping, phone calls, organizing...... Quite possibly in addition to all that you're earning a living and/or looking after very young kids. Give yourself a break.

You know what else? When the other members of your household are contributing to it by helping out with chores, they'll take more pride in it, appreciate what you do more, and they'll feel a sense of pride in themselves – especially if you praise and show appreciation. Catching more flies with honey and all that.

And by members of your household I mean your partner too. I understand that if one is working and the other looking after kids, that comes into it – but do make sure things are reasonably fair and balanced. Some jobs are harder work than others, and looking after kids is a lot of work too. If you need to talk about it, then do, without criticising or blaming. Some people can't read our minds like we want them to, and you actually need to say it out loud. Just make sure you're expressing yourself in a positive way.

All hands on deck! We're in this together.


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