How to teach your kids to notice what needs to be done around the house—and have them do it

All eyes have been on leveling the playing field between partners when it comes to the mental load. But, it turns out, it might be a bit easier and more effective to teach your kids to pick up their dirty socks than your partner (except this guy and a few others). Sam Kelly, a millennial mothers coach, therapist, and mom of 3, teaches parents how to share the “mental load” with the whole family instead of hoarding it all for yourself and stressing right out.

In her recent viral post, she gets specific about how parents can finish what needs to be completed around the house, with kids doing the noticing and fixing.

She isn’t about them waiting to be told, parents repeating themselves, and hovering over kids to do jobs. Quite the opposite. Here’s her plan:

Set them up for success: provide structure and ownership over certain jobs, like in a chore chart, but with a few changes, she suggests:

-Give tasks they do every day. She calls this the “Big Three”

-Add on ONE additional talk, called “notice and do” This is where it gets a bit more helpful for parents.

-Discuss your family’s “minimum standard of care,” which involves specifics around what “resetting a room” looks like, including expectations of what a “notice and do” chore might be.

-Choose a time of day to do these, though later it can be whenever

-Add on another “Big Three” once they master the first three

But here’s where it gets more helpful — we have to teach our kids how to do that noticing we are expecting, she says. “Break down, into small steps, how to see what needs to be done. Walk tht house together and talk to your kids about what kinds of things they can notice and how to notice,” she says. This modeling will help train them for when it’s time to notice.

She shares a visual her kid made. In it, the Big Three are dishes, laundry, and bed. The child also seems to have a plan to do two “notice and do’s.”

It’s not just about chipping away at that laundry mountain. It’s about an increased awareness of the load of running a household, so they better understand you now, and train for later. “My mental load is gradually getting lighter,” she says. Grab that posterboard, set an alarm to give it a try, and let’s build these future little shared mental load citizens and partners now.