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Pitching In: Simple Ways to Get Your Family Involved

By Colleen Langenfeld

We all have 'em. Families would rather do a million other things than …

- clean the garage
- do homework
- make their beds
- walk the dog
- practice a musical instrument
- do the dishes
- put their clothes away
- scoop out the litter box
- hang up their coats (or towels)

Get the picture? If you're tired of nagging, begging and even pleading to get your family members to help out around your home, listen up. There's a better way to get the cooperation you want.

Help them see the benefits. Everybody likes to eat, but no one likes to clean up? Well, when only those who work get to eat, suddenly work looks much more appealing.

Negotiate. Teens and adults definitely like to have a say in their environment. If someone truly detests a chore, it's a reasonable thing to arrange a swap with someone else. Bottom line? There is work to be done and everyone must pull his or her own weight.

Put them in charge. Assign age-appropriate tasks to family members and then let them fail ... naturally. Consequences are an important part of life, and when we inappropriately shield our kids from those consequences, we can be doing them a disservice. If it's 14-year-old Johnny's turn to fix dinner tonight and he “forgets,” the whole family will be knocking at his door and complaining. The key here is to not give in and call for pizza! Unless someone's ill, missing a meal will not hurt anyone. Or serve bread and water as the replacement meal. Chances are, Johnny will not forget again.

Model. If the adults in the household are balking at doing their part, it will be virtually impossible to get the kids to fall in line. Healthy households are managed from the top (adults) down, which means the adults must be mature enough to assume the leadership roles meant for them. If you have a spouse who doesn't believe he or she should pitch in, try the practical approach. Suggest exchanging favors with each other. You'll do something to free him if he will agree to promote more helpfulness around the house.

Use teamwork. This is my favorite idea because it puts smiles on faces and everyone wins. Whatever the task, do it together. As parents, our children crave our attention, and time spent cleaning the bathroom, making dinner and folding clothes are genuine relationship-building moments. Smart families know that if you start the teamwork at a young age (preschool), over time you'll develop young adults who will listen to and respect you as parents, act more responsible in general, know how to work in a group and be competent in many of life's daily tasks when they leave the nest.

Play regularly. A solid way to get kids involved around the house is to teach that if we are going to work hard, we are definitely going to play hard. Plan out those fun times and put them on your schedule, just like the other important events in your life. If your kids learn you are serious about playing hard regularly and that it's tied to taking care of everyday responsibilities, they will learn to cooperate fast.

Wonder if these ideas can work? Try them. Pick one or two you like and customize them to fit your unique family. Plan a strategy that will make things better around your home. Practice your plans awhile and make adjustments as you go. Your leadership and involvement is key in getting your troop working together like the family team they were meant to be!

© Colleen Langenfeld

Colleen Langenfeld offers helpful ideas to busy working moms. Use our resources at to make your life feel easier, healthier and smarter now!

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