Nora Rhoades- Family and Youth Development Agent
Families constantly juggle work, school, activities... the list goes on and on. Staying focused on home management can be challenging when you’re pulled in many directions, yet sustaining some level of organization, structure and routine is an essential part of ensuring satisfaction in all aspects of life. Successful home management takes place when every family member contributes to the overall health, happiness and well-being of the family’s needs. Taking care of your home and family’s needs is a team effort.
Develop a system to share the responsibilities of home management. It is unfair to expect one person to restore and maintain order. When youth and adults help with housework and other family responsibilities, they learn to carry out tasks, accept responsibility and help others. They develop a sense of “can do”, which builds self-confidence.
Start with a positive attitude. Cleaning is a chore, but taking a positive approach will encourage family members to become involved. Find out what jobs the children and adults think need to be done. Rather than saying “clean bedroom”, describe tasks specifically (“make bed”, “pick up toys”, “put dirty clothes in hamper”, “sort mail”, etc...).
Decide who will do what. What are each person’s daily and weekly responsibilities? Take into consideration people’s likes and dislikes. Steer away from assigning a task to someone simply because he/she does it better than the others. Remember, practice makes perfect for others.
Teach necessary skills. It is important to help others develop the skills necessary to complete a task. Demonstrate how to do each task, and make sure he/she knows how to operate equipment safely. Work side-by-side, observe and make corrections as necessary. Don’t forget to provide positive encouragement generously!
Agree on acceptable standards and work quality. Everyone has different ideas about what constitutes a “clean” room and “completed” task. There are often many safe ways to reach the same end goal. Be specific when determining responsibilities so that everyone understands expectations. Allow all children and adults to have input.
Set fair and reasonable deadlines. Deadlines should be age-appropriate and agreed upon by all parties involved. Younger children may not understand a firm deadline such as day and time. It may be helpful to use the “when/then” technique. For example, say, “When the toys are picked up, then you may go outside and play.”
Determine rewards and consequences. Before a problem occurs, discuss and agree upon rewards for a job well done and consequences for not meeting expectations. One objective of involving the whole family in housework is to learn and practice the responsibilities of self- and home care. Remember, the ultimate goal is to work as a team to satisfy your family’s needs, health, happiness and overall well-being.