When establishing any kind of routine with chores, tidying, meal cleanup, or anything else, begin with the assumption that the children do not know how to properly complete the task.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve messed up with this! When I first started these systems, my biggest failing was that I would simply state the command, and then I would move on to work on something else. I would later become frustrated to learn that the job was poorly done, but this was my own fault because I had failed to teach them how to do what I had requested.
When you’re training your children in a task, set aside time so that you are not busy working on other things. If you are cleaning the kitchen while your child is attempting to clean a toilet, you are not available to show them if they are missing a step or doing it incorrectly. Setting aside this time can be difficult for many of us, who feel a sense of guilt if we observe someone else working while we are not; we feel as though we are being lazy or wasting time. I can not emphasize this enough: During the training process, it is perfectly okay to watch your child work, without physically working yourself. This is NOT laziness! This is training, and it is worth your full attention. Take comfort in knowing that when this relatively short training period has passed, you will have many, many opportunities to work alongside your children, and you will be rewarded with the knowledge that they will know how to do their jobs well.
I realize that some of you don’t have older children quite yet. That’s okay! You can do this sooner than you think! For a 2 or 3 year old, this is going to be as simple as teaching them how to put their toys away, teaching them to get out their own bibs at mealtimes, and putting their own dishes in the sink. For a 4 year old, it might mean teaching them to help you empty the trash cans or wipe down the kitchen chairs. Older children can be taught to swish the toilets, vacuum the floor, wipe the kitchen table or load the dishwasher. So as you read through a few systems we have implemented in our home, keep in mind ways that your children may be able to help you.