The house is a mess. There are toys everywhere. The garbage needs to be emptied. The dishes are piled in the sink.
And there are your 3 kids. Watching TV, playing on their phones, coloring. Absolutely not helping around the house.
You’ve tried chore charts, you’ve tried bribing, you’ve tried taking things away until they complete their tasks. But nothing works!
How do you get your kids helping around the house?
In our house, we call it “Team Schwarz” (our last name is Schwarz, you could call it anything… let’s call it “Team Awesome”)
Here’s how it works. Instead of demanding that your kids do the dishes or take out the trash, you talk about it as helping the team. And…get this…you work as a team.
In order for “Team Awesome” to work you need 3 things:
- A “Team” Mindset: If Lily clears the table, mom loads the dishwasher, Charles sweeps the floor and dad takes out the trash, the kitchen will be clean in much less time than it would take one person to do it. Everyone is helping the team accomplish the goal: a clean kitchen.
- A Positive Attitude: Think about how a coach builds up his team with high fives, compliments, encouragement, and cheers! You don’t have to go overboard, but a little upbeat energy makes a huge difference. Take this opportunity to model the attitude you’d like to see from your kids.
- No Criticism: Nothing ruins a team mindset faster than criticism. Instead of pointing out your child’s imperfections, focus on the ways that they are helping the team get the job done. If you notice your child is struggling, work together to get back on track.
You might be thinking…
Don’t I do enough already?
You don’t have to add to the amount of work you do, instead, delegate parts of it to your team.
Say you’re folding laundry, announce a “Team Awesome” event, “Alright team, I need a sock sorter, a washcloth folder and someone tall to hang things in the closet. Let’s go, team!”
Isn’t it good for kids to have chores?
We want our kids to learn skills like cleaning the bathroom or sorting laundry. Working as a team shows that every chore is important to make the household run smoothly. Kids feel like they are making a valuable contribution to the family rather than just doing a mundane activity that seems “useless.”
This seems like a lot of work.
Think about the time it takes you to nag, bribe and argue with your kids to do chores. Then, compare it to using a team mindset. It may seem like a lot of work at the beginning because it is something new, once your kids get used to the idea, it can be a quick 5-minute team “activity.”
Do we always have to work as a team?
No, of course, there will be times when you can’t work as a team. The important thing is to keep the focus on the team, instead of engaging in a power struggle over individual contributions. Sometimes, it’s more of a mindset than an activity.
What if someone doesn’t participate?
Again, we’re not going to criticize or guilt anyone into participating. Notice when this child does something to help out, even if it’s not at the same time as everyone else. Point out ways that they contribute, make sure they know that they are a valuable part of the team.
It’s Not Just For Chores
“Team Awesome” can be used in any situation that you want to encourage family bonding, working together or encouraging a team mindset.
- One child wins an award at school
- You finish a puzzle together
- Dad is sick, so you have to do a few extra things around the house
- Planning a family weekend get-away
My husband is great at announcing “Team Schwarz” events for our kids: “OK, we’re heading to the park, when I say it’s time to leave, we’re going to pack up and go to the car without complaining. Go “Team Schwarz!'” Then, my girls cheer and (for the most part) happily comply.
How do you encourage team spirit in your family?