Long ago, people learned how to manage a household and raise their children by observing parents, usually their mother, as she went about her daily tasks. They would see and hear all the little details that go into keeping a household running smoothly and she would have the time and support of her husband she needed to perform those tasks. Those days are, for most of us, long gone.

Single parent families and two-income families are the norm. Children spend the majority of their time away from home, or they are home alone. So, how can a parent keep their house and teach their children in today’s non-nuclear family?

The first step is to get organized. There are only so many hours in a day, so many dollars in a paycheck. Raising responsible children means including them in the process of keeping a house. Let them see, to the extent that they will understand, things like chores, budgeting, and scheduling.

Running a household is the perfect medium for teaching many important life skills to your children. In getting organized, show your children what your time demands are. Use clocks, lists, and calendars to show them what is coming, what must be planned around, and what time is available. Time management skills will help your child be successful in many areas of life.

Once the schedule is understood, bring out the checkbook. Show them how money comes in and where it goes out. Use allowances to bring this lesson home and to teach your children financial responsibility. If they have a vested interest in what you are showing them, they will be far more likely to participate and learn the lessons.

Chores should be clearly identified and adequately rewarded. Create a list, with the help of your children, of all the household chores that need to be done and how often. You must also identify the payoff. If there is more than one child in your family, you can offer the chore list on a first come, first paid basis. Certainly, there are some jobs better suited to older children, so be sure there are jobs on the chore list that are appropriate for younger children, too.

Chore lists can be used to get the majority of your housework done: laundry, vacuuming, dusting, watering plants, taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, cleaning the refrigerator, making beds, cleaning bathrooms, shining mirrors, washing windows and cleaning the oven can all be put on the list. It is a simple matter of communicating your expectations with your children and then holding them accountable for their actions and rewarding their good efforts.

A handy tool for keeping house and teaching your children could be a sheet posted on the refrigerator or on a wall, showing currently available jobs and rates of pay. Provide a space where your children can sign, showing that they have completed the job. Then, once a week, conduct a family meeting during which you pay your children and discuss the jobs that were done and the ones that need doing. This is also a good time to review the family schedule.

Communication and a good example are key components to managing your household and teaching your children. Once you have a system that works for you and your children, you will find that your life becomes infinitely easier and your house stays neat and clean. As an added bonus, your children will be learning to earn an income and care for their home.

What methods work for you?

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