3 Common Chore Battles - Solved!

By Jessica Streit

My least favorite job in my home is cleaning the toilet. I hate doing it. I have two boys. Those of you with boys know how very often the toilet needs cleaned. Yet I find myself putting it off longer than I should most of the time.

If there was anyone else in the house to make clean the toilet, I would probably pawn it off on them. In fact, I recently told my children that he who misses, cleans it up. They now have at their disposal, a toilet brush and disinfecting wipes to clean up their messes as often as possible. I’d do anything to get out of this chore.

What is it that causes me to put it off, whine about it on Facebook and even pawn it off on my children when I can? There’s a number of reasons why and if chore time is a battle for your children then I bet they are feeling the exact same thing I am.

Complaining and Whining 

There’s a number of reasons why kids (and most adults) complain about doing chores. There is just no fun in doing them. Chores are boring. However, you can make chore time more fun to decrease the complaints.

1. Turn on music. Take a lesson from the Seven Dwarfs and whistle while you work. Everything is more fun with some music playing in the background. Sing at the top of your lungs. Dance around silly while you dust. The kids will love it and as they are dancing with that vacuum just might forget they are doing work.

2. Race each other. Nothing gets people motivated more than a little competition so set a timer, race each other to the finish. Challenge everyone to finish their task before the next song comes on.

3. Divert their (your) attention. This weekend I did my spring summer cleaning while my boys were out of town. It was not something I wanted to do. I had books to read, blogs to write and sun to soak up. Yet, it needed done. When I found myself low on motivation, I turned on a podcast that sounded interesting. I listened to it as I scrubbed my tub and bathroom floors (and that dreaded toilet, too). It really made the time pass by quicker. Load some audiobooks or podcasts to your iPod the next time your kids aren’t interested in their chores. Bonus: This is a great way to get that reluctant reader interested in reading.


If anyone knows procrastination, it is me. I have lived with the symptoms and side effects of ADHD for thirty years and the part that bothers me more than anything is procrastination. If something can be put off longer, I will put it off. Overcoming procrastination in myself and my son with ADD is a constant struggle. Here’s a few ways we have succeeded.

1. Make it routine. A routine helps everyone but especially someone who is prone to procrastination. Set up a system for when each chore is going to be done. The dishwasher always gets loaded and run after dinner. It’s always unloaded before breakfast. If cleaning rooms is a chore that your children loathe and will procrastinate on, then make it a routine. Rooms are always cleaned on Saturdays before video games or playing outside.

2. Tie a reward to it. If your child is not interested in completing a chore and tends to put it off as long as possible, consider adding something they find rewarding as a contingent. In my house it is board games. The kids love to play them with me. I often assign them the chore of picking up the living room, their bedrooms or unloading the dishwasher. If I tell them it needs to be done as some point today, it will get put off until 9pm. If I say to them “Once the dishwasher is unloaded we can play a board game,” they will get to work.

3. Create a chore chart. Pinterest is full of some amazing chore charts that work as a reward system and a motivator for children. Search for something that would work for your children and implement it. You’ll know it’s working when you don’t have to nag them to complete their chores. 


When I was married, I absolutely refused to run the edger. I would mow the lawn on occasion but if the edging needed done, I wasn’t going to be the one to do it. Now, if I had a partner who was willing, I’d probably refuse to ever clean another toilet again. It doesn’t work that way as an adult too often, so why should it work that way for kids? If your child refuses to unload the dishwasher, don’t do it for him. Try a couple of these tricks to get him or her back to helping out around the house.

1. Kid conference. I use these in both my classrooms and at home. A kid conference is just a time to talk one-on-one, without yelling or getting defensive. It’s a time to talk about your feelings and to work together to come up with a plan. Find a reason why your child is refusing chores, explain why everyone helps out around the house and together, brainstorm a solution.

2. Offer an allowance. I don’t work or free. You probably don’t work for free. So why should our children work for free? Provide them an allowance for completing chores. No chores? No allowance. (Older kids should also have the rule: No chores? No electronics, car, taxi to a friend’s house).

3. Reward great performance. Catch your child doing a great job, working diligently or without procrastinating and reward him or her. Add an extra $1 onto their allowance. Take him out for ice cream. Surprise her with a later bedtime. Find something that is rewarding for your child and use it occasionally. This will ensure that the same great behavior you just saw happens again in the future. Your chore battles may never be completely gone, but with these tips, maybe they will be greatly decreased.

What do you think you’ll do first?

Jessica Streit is an educator, freelance writer and single mom of 2 boys. Her writing can be found on a variety of topics including personal finance, education and parenting. She blogs about overcoming debt and living a royal life on a budget at The Debt Princess.

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