getting kids to pitch in with pet chores
This post is sponsored by The Libman Company but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
It all began with a “mom, I really want a cat. I promise, I’ll do everything. I’ll feed him. I’ll clean the litter box. (enter more lies)” It ends with me refilling food bowls and wrist deep with a pooper scooper. I bet this is ringing true with you, since you’re here reading this post. Kids are notoriously terrible at taking care of pets, and since pets are living creatures, we parents have no choice but to pick up the slack. I did it to my parents, so I guess it’s just my turn, right? Wrong! It may be quite a chore for you to keep reminding kids of their pet chores, but the routine and responsibility they’ll learn is worth the bother.
I cannot emphasize the chore chart enough. For years I thought my daughter didn’t need one until the day came where I was so tired of repeating myself. I bought a dry erase board, put it up on the wall and listed her daily chores with check boxes. Boom, she never missed a chore again. It was that simple! Her #1 chore for the day is to give the cats water and food (and also water and food for her bearded dragon). Sorry, Diggs, you never make the blog!
keep age appropriate expectations
I wouldn’t give my 5 year old the task of scooping the litter box. That would create more problems than solutions for me. My 11 year old can barely handle it. Even with her, I only ask her to scoop the clumps. When it comes time to change all of the litter and clean the litter box, I handle that. Delegate too big a task and you’ll only make more work for yourself.
set young kids on alert
My 5 year old isn’t expected to do too much around the house, but one task he has is to be the alert. He is to do visual checks of the cat bowls throughout the day and let his sister know when they are low. You best believe he loves giving his sister orders, so he rarely misses an empty water bowl. He’s also in charge of collecting cat toys and returning them to their basket. My kittens are VERY playful, so they are always batting toys around the home. His chore completion is actually very helpful!
I don’t believe in rewarding chore completion but I always believe in praise. For older kids I could totally see paying for larger chores, but just the daily stuff should be done to help the family. I try to praise my kids all day. I’m for sure not telling my daughter she’s amazing every time she fills the cat’s water bowl, but when I notice her going the extra distance, I’m quick to praise her.
the random pick-up chore
… and this is why she has a chore on her list named “random pick-up”. This was the best idea my husband ever had. The random pick-up box can be ticked off after the completion of any chore… from picking up after her brother or cleaning up cat messes. This open-ended chore request makes her take more notice of the house around her and all of the messes in it. Seriously, hats off to hubby for this amazing idea.
be a team
My kids both respond to chores and tasks better if I’m also involved. It never fails, when my kids see me cleaning up, they both want to pitch in. Of course, neither thinks of cleaning until I give them the visual queue, but I’ll take a win where I can get it! It goes hand in hand with lead by example, so being a part of pet chores is okay. The kids don’t have to do it all to get your point across. Pitching in together helps develop the whole “teamwork makes the dream work” mentality that strengthens families.
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