If you have children, I am sure you are aware of how overwhelming it is to get them to pick up after themselves. Toys, books, clothes, backpacks, dishes left everywhere make mama a little crazy, and it can be hard to figure out where to put your focus and energy. We all only have so much to give throughout the course of the day, and so we need a strategy. My mother's counsel was to focus on teaching them to pick up the items that would be life-long tasks. Teach them to clear their place at dinner. Teach them to fold and hang clothes and to put them in the hamper when they are dirty. The toys will eventually take care of themselves with a lot less prodding as they feel the sting of toys that get ruined, and especially as they take on the responsibility of coveted items like ipods and laptops. It is a lot more likely that your adult son will leave his socks on the floor than whatever comes along to replace blu-ray machines.
We have started focusing on more grown up tasks for Jonas. He making a lasagna while I am typing this (in the same room, don't worry!) and he just came in from finishing up learning how to start seeds for the garden he will be weeding this summer. We have also decided that he will be washing his own clothes most of the time from hereon out. Yes, he's only eight. Yes, he will still have time to play. But I only have ten more years to make him into the kind of man worth marrying and there are an awful lot of lessons to cram into those years. Think of how much more he can accomplish in his young adulthood if he isn't scrambling to learn the basics?
And think of how much more I can accomplish with him taking care of these things!
Another thing my mother taught me about creating these good cleaning habits with kids (particularly the leaving a trail problem) is that you have to inconvenience them. If they are busy and you come across their stuff, don't pick it up for them! Call them in and have them do it before they go back to whatever was keeping them busy. It takes longer at first, but it will create better habits in the end.
When everyone pitches in at home, there is more harmony in the home. There is a respect for others being developed, as well as the habits that make a productive contributor to society.
Do you have any tips, tricks or lessons learned pertaining to teaching kids responsibility at home? I'd love to hear!