Covid and lockdown restrictions have forced us to spend more time in our homes with our families. Realizing that this has been our reality the last 10 months - and who knows for how much longer - I tried to think of ways to make this experience more positive and beneficial. That's when I came across Shiri Atsmon, the Founder of Helpful Kids.
Shiri is a mum of three teens living in North London. At Helpful kids Shiri creates educational games and activities that promote sustainability and family teamwork. Her mission is to boost children's confidence by giving them life skills they can use at home to help around the house, tidy up and even fight climate change.
Her article is a must read from all parents.
Here, have a go.
5 Mindsets for Parents who successfully raise helpful kids. Adopt them today.
Asking children to regularly help around the home is hugely beneficial for their character development. Children learn to contribute to the family’s greater good, which makes them more responsible and caring. They also learn life skills that will benefit them for life, such as doing the laundry, cooking and cleaning.
However with the pressures of modern life, many parents struggle to find the time to teach their children the skills they need to learn in order to help. Time crunch also leads parents to pick their parenting battles. Asking children to tidy up and help around the house can sometimes turn into an argument, which parents want to avoid by simply doing the work themselves. Many parents feel that doing the housework themselves is quicker and easier than getting the kids to do it, even in cases where the mess was created solely by the children.
Finding a way to consistently teach our kids new life skills, and routinely get them to help around the house is an investment in both their and our future. The children’s future will be brighter by learning these skills, and yours too as you will not be left to tidy and clean a mess you didn’t necessarily create.
You may see your friend’s children clearing the table and cooking and wonder, what is their secret? One of the things that distinguishes these parents is that they hold a firm mindset that leads them to always teach, and involve their kids with housework. These mindsets have helped them to persevere through challenging periods or when children lose interest in helping.
Psychology Today defines mindset as a belief that orients the way we handle situations—the way we sort out what is going on and what we should do.
Here are five mindsets held by parents who routinely involve their kids with housework.
Perhaps you will find a mindset that speaks to you. When you do, copy it or reframe it in your own words. Print it a few times and stick it onto your fridge, your computer and to other visible places. Repeat the mindset to yourself, your spouse and your kids. Slowly but surely, this mindset will become part of your values system and you will feel more motivated to ask your kids to cook and clean with you.
The five mindsets of parents that successfully ask their kids to help with household chores
1. Believe in teamwork. It is everyone’s role to help running the household - not just the paren
Many families believe that it takes an entire family to run a household, and that it isn’t a job placed on one (or both) parent. The saying that “teamwork makes the dream works” in this context means that when everyone helps, a family can achieve more and spend more relaxed time together. These parents see the housework as everybody’s work, since everyone enjoys the fruit of the labour involved with keeping the home tidy and clean, having clean clothes and nourishing food to eat.
''To me the house is a community. We live together, we work together. I am their mum not their maid. So they are encouraged to help at every opportunity. ''
''I also believe in our house we all live together and we all contribute towards something. The attitude came from myself and my husband. We try to share household chores and we’ve always agreed that it’s not “helping” each other it’s contributing our part for living together.''
“We have a couple of approaches. One is the context of being a "citizen of the house" (A concept from the book Marley Dias Gets it Done And So Can You.) where we all are responsible for looking after it. This sort of works with the eldest (aged 14). For the youngest it's the context of if we ALL do it, at the same time, we are ready to do fun stuff together, quicker.''
''I frequently talk with my daughters, 11 and 8, about how we need to work as a team to enable us to do all the fun things we like to do. They are onboard and despite needing me to prompt them frequently, they are very good.''
2. Helping around the home should be a normal part of family life.
In this approach parents are not making “chores” something special or unique. It is seen as routine behaviour embedded into a family’s everyday life.
Beth Cox, (Without exception)
''I’ve had my son putting his clothes in the laundry basket since he was tiny and this is pretty much a habit now. I just make it a natural thing rather than a chore.''
''My son’s been encouraged to ‘help’ tidy up his toys each day from about 12 months. Now aged 3, we always encourage him to take part in chores so I can’t imagine having a specific talk with him about chores as it’s just part of our family life”
This approach makes so much sense considering that we all have to do housework everyday, therefore there are many opportunities to involve even young kids on a daily basis. When you start thinking about these actions as daily activities rather than “chores”, it is easier to ask the kids to take part in the action.
3. Helping around the home is just another form of teaching children independence
Cultivating children’s independence from a young age promotes a healthy self - esteem in your child. Parents are often surprised by what even a young toddler can do when given the right tools and when being permitted to help. When it comes to teaching “chores”, think about it as an extension of another form of independence that you may be teaching your young children... For example, in addition to eating independently, also teach them to help set the table and clear their plates after a meal. The Montessori approach is packed with practical ideas to promote independence for children.
''I’ve been reading and using a Montessori approach with my daughter. By practicing, it has shown me that toddlers want to be independent and they are capable of so much more than we think.''
4. Every day in the present can impact the future
Parents who pick up their kids’ dirty laundry focus on the benefit they get in the present, thinking that today is easier and quicker to do it themselves. However parents who insist their kids tidy up think about today as a precursor for tomorrow. If they don’t put their foot down today, it will create a precedent for the future, and then the parents will need to clean after their own kids for the rest of their lives!
“I find myself insisting my my 5 years old daughter tidy up after herself. It’s probably a mix of my own stubbornness and the fear that if I set too much of a precedent for picking all her stuff up for her if she complains about doing it, then I'll be totally scuppered next time. We've had to learn to be very patient about things not being picked up on our timescale (we often have to leave it and come back later).
5. Re-define your parenting role
Re-define your parenting roleas teaching them life skills, rather than doing everything for them. We are now more aware of the perils of over-parenting. It’s exciting to be a parent and the need to excel on so many fronts while maintaining an “instagram-worthy” home leads many parents to tidying up the home themselves as it is quicker and easier. However, not only do your kids miss out on the opportunity to show you how capable they are, you are missing out on their potential capable hands in the future.
''My 9 yr old is capable. I’ve shown her all the basics really. She doesn't get paid for chores. I teach her that these are things she wont have a choice but to do when she moves out. We've also gone over bills and running costs of a home as well as the downsides to things like credit cards. My parents did everything for me so when I moved out at 17, it was a huge shock to the system 😂 I love them but I want my daughter to be able to cook at least the basics, clean and use things like a washing machine.''
When it comes to motivating kids to help around the home, what is your current mindset?
Is it one that propels you to action, and insist on having your kids help others in your family, or is it one that leads you to always cook and tidy by yourself?
Let us know in the comments below.
Find Shiri's eco-friendly activity packs, games and educational accessories on Etsy.
Check out her store to find games and activities that will get your kids tidying up, sticking to schedules, connect with nature and even fight climate change