There is a question I, as well as my two siblings, got quite often during our 4h years. One time, in particular, my sister and I were standing in a line to get our wristbands that every 4Her received to get in and out of the fairgrounds. A mother who was standing behind us ask us. “How does your mother make you get your projects done?” In unison, we both answered, “She doesn't”.
The three of us as pre-teens and up where there often on our own getting what we needed to done while many other kids had parents chasing after them every step of the way to get their project requirements done.
While our parents never pushed us to do projects we did not want to. It was also understood that we were not to start projects that we did not want to finish. When we were less than 10 or in our teen years, if we started a project or asked to have an animal and realized it was not for us, we had to complete the project and stick it out until the end of the 4h year. The moral of the story is that you do not have to push, prod, or pull our kids to help with chores to care for the animals. It is more effort on your part if you are pushing your child to finish the project and you end up doing the task anyway.
I am going to give you some ways to get your kiddos to be willing to step up to the task.
Start Them Early
By early I mean they are just now walking early. When you go out to do the feeding and caring for the animals your children should be going out with you. Even the children who are not old enough to go out on their own should still go out and help you as best they can. If you take them out with you while they are too young to remember any different, caring for the animals will seem like everyday life. It will start to become a routine and they won't know any different.
Give them tasks at their level.
A three-year-old can walk alongside you carry the empty egg basket. They may not be able to carry the basket when it is full. However, they can help you gather the eggs. Keep in mind that they are shorter and cannot reach the same things you can. When getting them to help you might have to put things like the egg basket at their level.
Ask them which animals they prefer to care for.
When you kids are getting a little older, be clear that "NONE" is not an option. However, ask them which animals they like and are willing to go out to feed and care for every day. If you have many different species one child might prefer to feed the chickens while another does not mind feeding the goats or hogs.
Yes, they should be willing to care for the animals you ask them too but think of it this way. If you are told you HAVE TO do something that you really don't like doing, your attitude is not going to be great am I right? If you are given a choice of which tasks you would prefer you more willing to do the task without holding a grudge the entire time you are doing it.
It is just human nature that we prefer to be asked. You can choose to tell them what they are going to do but you will be making it harder for yourself because you have to constantly be after them to go out and do the chores.
Prep Their Mindset
The way that you present the task is going to affect the way that your child is going to view the task.
Confused? Here is what I mean.
If you say “John, I know you might not like to do this and you might get tired of doing this but mommy really needs your help feeding these animals. Could you please help me get this done?”
Or “John, we have animals 1, 2, & 3 that I need your help taking care of. Out of those three which two would not mind doing for me each morning?”
If you are careful how you word it you will get a much better response.
Show Them You Notice
Helping with the chores is a part of life and kids should be expected to do them. Let your child know you appreciate them doing the task for you. You don't have to give them a pat on the back every time. However, a “thank you for doing that” will go a long way.
One last tip before we wrap up. Consider your child's personality. If they are not an animal person but would be willing to take over some of the house chores instead, that would free up your time as the parent. Getting kids to help with caring for the animals can be a challenge but if done right you can take the pressure off yourself and everyone else.
ABOUT LEAH LYNCH
Leah Lynch is the brain behind Busy Gals Homestead. She has a passion for teaching people how to take their homestead from hobby to thriving business. Leah is also the owner of Leah’s Lovely Lops Rabbitry, which is where it all began. Leah opened the rabbitry in 2009 and started learning everything she could about generating income. After some trial and error, she was able to turn what is normally a financially-draining hobby into a business that paid for her college education. The rabbits are still near and dear to her heart, but the rabbitry business has expanded into much more than Leah initially imagined. For that reason, she enjoys helping others experience the same success by converting their hobbies into full-fledged businesses.