Weekly family meetings are the first step toward getting kids to do chores and keeping everyone up to date on schedules and the like.
If you haven't held one before, don't let the meeting part scare you: It can be as casual or as formal as everyone likes. Gavel and agenda not required.
What is required, however, is that your family meeting takes place on a day and time when everyone can attend.
Saturday mornings or Sunday evenings work well for many families; your meeting time will depend on your schedule.
Choose a time when everyone is relaxed.
Here are 8 strategies to make your meeting successful:
Hold your meeting in a place where the seating puts every family member on relatively equal footing.
Around the kitchen table would be better than having the kids sit on the living room floor while Mom and Dad talk from the sofa above them.
The reason is simple: When you're starting any new system, especially one that involves every member of the home, it's essential to get everyone on the same page and let everyone feel a part of the process.
To make your new home-keeping routine successful from the start, you'll need to explain to your kids why sharing the load is good for them.
And for you. Here are a couple of key selling points you could mention:
Once your kids see what's in it for them, you'll find getting them to pitch in isn't the big deal it once was.
You'll need to explain what the chores are.
Explain why each chore is on the list, such as we do the laundry twice a week so too much doesn't pile up and become overwhelming.
Detail each chore on the week's list, taking time to explain exactly what's expected of, say, doing the dishes.
To you it might mean setting the table, clearing the table after dinner, and then helping you wash dishes.
To your 11-year-old daughter, however, it might mean waiting until you ask her for her help. Or that she simply sets the table.
Head off misunderstandings by being crystal clear about your cleaning expectations early on.
It would probably be helpful to bring a chore chart if you you'll be using one so you can explain how you'll be keeping track of all the housecleaning jobs.
Or, perhaps this would be a great time to ask the kids how they'd like to keep track of things. Some kids like the thought of earning stars by their name on the fridge; others prefer to having a personal chart that they can consult and check off daily.
Explain how these chores are to be divided up and when these chores are expected to be done.
No arm-twisting here, let the kids know you won't be "enforcing" these new chores.
Instead, the entire family will be making a commitment to each other - and the shared home - to care for it as decided upon during the meeting. It's do-the-right-thing time.
However, you may want to decide, as a family, what to do as a group with a chore no-show-er.
Perhaps those who complete their chores get to decide where to go out to dinner Sunday night or which movie to rent.
Remember, the key to keeping it successful is keeping it positive.
You'll want to hear their thoughts and concerns on the new system. Invite and accept reasonable ideas from the kids on your chore system.
Remember, it has to work for everyone, so do what you can to make it work for them, too.
Consider setting a few ground rules at the outset, such as name calling is a no-no, and when you state a problem, you must also suggest a solution.
This should be a fun time, too. Serve popcorn and sodas. Or indulge in ice cream creations. Make it festive. So be sure to end your meeting on a high note.
These meeting are a great way to tackle all sorts of dilemmas, not just the cleaning routine.
Reward good efforts, discuss bad efforts, and consider reassigning chores. This is your system, and like any successful system, it needs regular retooling to stay relevant.
After all, good systems are adaptable to changing schedules and needs. It's the secret to successful housekeeping with kids.
About the Author
Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.