I would love N to help out more round the house.

It doesn’t work for any length of time. I’ve tried rewards, chore lists, asking him, explaining that we all live there and need to muck in. But it doesn’t work. He will only do the things that I ask when he wants to. Or without being asked if he wants to try something (ie he likes using the vacuum cleaner).

Even for pocket money agreements, he won’t do the simple daily things that I would expect. On occasion he will make his bed, put his pjs upstairs. But his breakfast stuff is rarely removed from the table, let alone put in the dishwasher. And usually he walks straight up past his things left on the stairs.

But that’s at home. When he’s camping it’s a different matter, and I’m so proud of him helping out when we go on holiday.

Maybe because it’s a novelty. It’s a chance for him to be more independent when he’s on holiday. He also doesn’t moan when he’s asked to help. It’s just a given that he needs to.

kids helping out camping - Bubbablue and me

Camping is a great learning experience too. He learns to get more confidence, to try different things, to stand up for what he wants, and to put himself in situations that in previous years he wouldn’t have dared to. It helps that we’ve been to the same campsite several times now.

What are the type of jobs N was helping out with? He’s now 8 years old, but was helping out to a lesser extent since he was 5 or 6.

1, Pitching the tent and striking camp.

N helps with the tent pegs and poles. Either banging them in – he’s learning about the direction putting them in – and removing them. He’s also very good at holding the tent poles up while I’m putting up the rest.

2, Helping with the windbreak, pegging out and putting poles in.

3, Dish-washing.

Kids love going over to do the washing up on their own, and you’ll often see kids over at the washing up stations.

4, Packing his own suitcase.

N was ready 2 weeks before I was due to sort the rest of the packing, but he’d done a pretty good job including everything clothes-wise and his toys he wanted.

5, Getting his swimming things together each beach day

6, Going to the shop to check on prices and items, and then returning to buy specific items.

The first I needed him to check what water carriers they had, so he went off with my phone to take a photo and find out the prices before going back to buy one. The second time was a little bit of a mistake, as I needed change from a £20 note.

I sent him off to buy the cheapest chocolate bar and to get change, explaining what I was expecting back. Probably £15 in notes, the rest in change. He returned with 2 large chocolate bars and some rubbish dummy toy tat. And only £2 in coins. I wasn’t happy, so told him he’d need to take 1 bar back and the toy and ask for a refund. I didn’t think he’d do it, but he did go back and ask. He was told he needed to come and get me.

So I marched him back and grovelled for a refund which they did give me back as he’d not been told to buy the other items. Poor N did get some of my anger, but he did need to realise he can’t just use other people’s money to buy what he wants. Especially when he’d already bought tat from the shop with his own money the day before.

But I was so impressed that he did go back to the shop and ask for the refund. He certainly wouldn’t have done it last year.

7, Getting his own breakfast.

N doesn’t wait for breakfast, so after I’d done bacon on the gas stove one morning, he decided he wanted to cook some the next morning. So I sat inside the tent, watching him outside and telling him what he needed to do next.

He did a brilliant job, and his first meal was cooked. A bacon sandwich, and he’d even prepped my bread and bacon. Since then, he’s been taking bacon over to the farm in the mornings to cook bacon there, so it’s inspired him. He’s now got ‘fried egg’ next on his ‘to learn how to cook’ list.

While N loves to get out and play with the other children, he likes to do jobs and work. And camping feels a little like that as well as being a learning opportunity. So I’m all for him helping out, taking over jobs and being willing to do things that not many 8 year olds or older do.

Now, I just need to persuade him that at home, there’s also other chores he could help with.

How do your children like to help out? How do you manage to get them to help out at home?

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