Doing chores around the house isn’t fun for me, so I know my children don’t enjoy it either. We have a weekly chore list that changes from week to week between three children. We utilize charts on the back of each child’s bedroom door telling them the who, what, when, where and how. Our children do not earn rewards for their personal chores (cleaning their closet, room or bathroom), but they do have the opportunity to earn funds to purchase items of their choosing earned by performing the community chores (washing the family dishes, taking out the trash, lawn care or special projects).
When the children were younger and unable to read, we used pictures with age appropriate chores like picking up toys and placing them into the toy box or emptying the bathroom trash into the larger kitchen trash. It’s never too early to start with chores. My motto is “…if you’re old enough to use it, you’re old enough to clean it.” Having a disability doesn’t matter. Everyone is expected to do what they are capable of doing. Everyone can do something.
Chores run like clockwork in our home. There is a place and time for everything and everyone knows the place and time. All children are clear on consequences for not doing their chores. If it’s a personal chore, I tie personal things to it for consequences—if it’s a community chore, I tie funds to it. I treat it like a working job so that my children gain that responsibility of working and managing money.
Funds collected from community chores can be earned to go to the movies, buy “that” game for the most current system, and just to buy items of their choosing. These items are personal items because they worked for that money and bought the items for themselves.
Danielle, our middle child, always got her funds for community chores and she loved to practice perfecting her chore skills. For some reason, she couldn’t pick up the skill of washing the food off the dishes. I would always use this as a teaching moment. I would go into the kitchen when she had completed the task and look over the dishes. Most of the time, I would conclude that she needed more practice.
So, I would call her into the kitchen and proceed to teach her the correct way of doing the dishes. First, make hot soapy water. Second, rinse the dish off under hot water to get most of the food particles off the dish. Third, place it into the hot soapy water. Then pick up the dish and rub your cloth across the front and back of the dish, ensuring that all food is cleaned from the dish. Now, place the dish back into the water, rinse the dish under hot water and place it firmly into the dish rack. That was my turn. Now it would be her turn from the beginning; first, second and through completion.
Danielle seemed to like practice more as a younger child, because as she got older practice seemed to frustrate her. I don’t know why, and it never occurred to me to ask, but those dishes were clean, and practice must have made perfect because practice became a thing of the past.
I told you…practice makes perfect!
As a mother of a teenager with autism, I am beginning to see public inclusion changes that are designed to accommodate children with disabilities.
Living life with a child or children with disabilities can become very lonely and isolating.