Wow! The house seems so dirty and cluttered. You’re exhausted from a day at the office or from looking after toddlers or ferrying kids to school and activities. You’re barely keeping up with the laundry and the meals and, as you look around you, you see your family in front of their tech devices, completely oblivious to their surroundings and your concern. Seeing them slouched and relaxed in comfortable chairs while you are tired and anxious only makes you more fed up.

What can you do to change this picture, get some help and, as a result, have a clean home and some badly needed free time for yourself?

The Old Way

The old way might call for you to shout “I’ve had it! Everybody get up and get to work. Pick up your stuff in the family room, go and clean your bedrooms and do it RIGHT NOW!” The result: long faces, resentful kids, angry words and the atmosphere in your family shifted to negative as the kids stomp out of the room. You’re left standing alone and feeling even more discouraged.

A New Way

The secret to a new approach that really works is to get your family to think about why it’s important to share in looking after your home. As well, it’s a well known fact in business these days that making employees feel as if they have choices results in their higher productivity and work satisfaction. Also, when people feel valued, feel that they count, they are happier and more interested in their surroundings. How do we use this knowledge to make your home a happier and healthier place? Here are seven ideas to help set up your new approach to inspiring your family to help out:

1. Work on your relationship with your kids. Make it a point to notice anything positive they do and mention it to them. Thank them for anything they do to help. Tell them, often, that you love them. Hug them.

2. Once you think your family is ready for it, suggest that everyone gets together after a family meal to have an important discussion. Set it up in a fun way, providing special treats, perhaps.

3. At the meeting, thank them for being there and start to tell them how tired you are and how burdened you feel. Tell them about your exhaustion and how you are overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. Express how upset you are and how you need their help. Kids usually empathize with you and respond by asking how they can help. Whatever you do, do not blame or criticize your kids or your partner.

4. You can mention how many things there are to do around the house and ask them if they’d like to help make a list of everything that needs to be done to make their home run effectively. They can all have input and everyone must have a say; even the smallest child has ideas that are worthwhile. Someone, perhaps your partner or an older child, can take notes. Some of the items on the list can be, for example: meal planning, shopping for food and household items, cooking, setting the table, loading the dishwasher, washing pots and pans, cleaning the bathroom, dusting and vacuuming and, don’t forget this one – earning the income.

5. Once the list is made, it will be obvious just how much work it takes to keep the home running. Again emphasize your need for help. Suggest that each person could choose to do one of the jobs on the list. Be sure to ask for their approval. Let each child choose a task and refrain from suggesting it is inappropriate. You may have to ask if help is needed and do some training at the outset. Kids love it when the job they choose could be done for a one-week period, at which time they could keep the job or pick a new one. Again, the group can discuss this and agree to it.

6. Consistency is crucial. Weekly discussions about running your home must continue regularly, for example after a family dinner on a certain evening. Put it on the calendar or post it on the fridge. There will be complaints and you must hear them, respect them and solve any problems that come up with the group’s assistance. Kids have great ideas, especially if they know you’re listening respectfully.

7. Show your appreciation often. Accentuate the positive and refrain from criticism. Problems and challenges can be introduced at the next meeting in a gentle, non-blaming way. Positive comments will go a lot farther than negative ones which only cause resentment.

When you adopt this new approach, the atmosphere in your home will change for the better. You’ll be amazed at what your kids can do and the way they respond to your encouragement and your gratitude for their help.

For further ideas on kids and jobs, or improving your relationship with your children, please go to my book, Parent with Confidence: Power Tools for Bringing Up Great Kids ( Amazon paperback or ebook,

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