Twice in recent weeks, I’ve had discussions with other moms on all the CHORES I make my kids do. Yes, I’m that mom!! 🙂
I’m a HUGE believer in childhood chores. I think chores build character, lessen entitlement, and generally help kids prepare for the real world.
Nobody comes along to help me with my chores, and I don’t want my children to feel like they must be waited on hand and foot. They have really great lives, and I never want them to take that for granted.
I probably am extra sensitive to this because my mom and grandmother are from a 3rd world country. I’ve heard many stories of what it’s like to live with very little. Dirt floors for your home….using an outhouse and catching rain because there’s no running water….having your baby in the market and carrying her home in a basket. Seriously!
Being one generation removed from this kind of life, I do NOT have the patience for whining and entitlement. I am acutely aware of how well off we are in the United States.
Should You Make Your Kids Do Chores?
I’ve noticed recently that there is a backlash against chore-forcing parents. I’m not sure I understand the issue – to the people who say I shouldn’t have kids just so they can do chores for me…let’s get something straight here.
Parenting is wayyyyyyy more involved than 1) have a baby 2) make them do your chores. That argument is simply ridiculous. Parenting takes years and years of sacrifice. Trust me when I say that the little bit of “chore help” I get from my kids was not my master plan. LOL
The point of having kids do chores is for THEIR BENEFIT, not mine. It would be way easier for me to simply do everything myself, MY WAY, get it done right without having to explain anything, and go on our merry way. But that wouldn’t teach them a single lesson. It would also turn me into a martyr.
I think it’s healthier for them AND me to have them help. Moms already do so much. There is no reason we must shoulder the entire burden of chores for the entire family. Everyone should pitch in because they are PART OF THE FAMILY.
In our home, chore contributions are expected simply because you live here. Plain and simple.
To anyone who thinks that kids should be kids and be allowed to play and not be forced to work after a long day of school…..the point of chores is not to make kids into slaves. A simple list of 2 daily chores on a school day might take a total of 5 minutes (clearing their plates off the table and wiping off the counters, for example). Hardly robbing any child of a proper childhood.
4 Things Kids Learn from Doing Chores
It is my STRONG opinion that teaching children things like a sense of responsibility, care for our community, and accountability is something we owe to society. Having my kids do chores is just one way I like to teach these lessons.
- RESPONSIBILITY – My kids know that certain chores are theirs to do. If they don’t do them, they don’t get done. Once a chore is assigned, the person is it assigned to must do it. So if it’s not done, it’s on them.
- ACCOUNTABILITY – Some of our chores build upon one another. One child might load the dishwasher then the other is in charge of unloading. If the first person doesn’t load, the second person can’t unload. Everyone must do their part for the workload to get done. I love doing chores as a family because it mimics the real world and especially real world jobs that require teamwork.
- COMMUNITY – We keep the house up as a family unit because we all live here. Kind of like everyone in the community must pitch in to take care of everyone else. This is the kind of world I want my children to live in. You may be thinking that this is not how the real world works. But here’s the thing – whether or not someone helps them, I expect my children to be contributing members of society, so we model this in our own home.
- ACHIEVEMENT – When my kids do their chores, I make a point to tell them how proud I am of them for contributing to our home. I tell them they should be proud of playing a part, and you should see how proud they are of their accomplishments! Kids need encouragement more than anything, and I’m a big believer of giving encouragement for a job well done (or a good effort, if they are just learning). There is always something positive you can say!
List of 10 Chores Your Kids Can Do
Mama – I know you’re tired. I’m tired. We’re all tired. You officially have my permission to STOP DOING ALL THE HOUSEHOLD CHORES yourself and ask your kids to pitch in.
If your kids don’t currently have regular chores, it will take some time to get them into the groove. You can’t go from no chores to ALL THE CHORES in one day. This has been a life-long journey for my kids. I started them on chores when they were about 2 years old and slowly added to their list of things they could do around the house as they got older.
It’s totally an age-based thing. My 10-year-old does MORE COMPLEX chores than my 7-year-old who does more chores than my 5-year-old. It’s only fair that their responsibility increases with age and maturity. For instance, my oldest empties the dishwasher but I don’t like letting my little guy touch knives just yet (for his safety and ours LOL).
But everyone knows how to do run the laundry even though I never asked my oldest to do it at 5. The younger ones catch on earlier because they see other people doing it and they’re curious. I think that’s a good thing!
Here’s a list of 10 chores I’ve assigned my kids over the years, starting from about 2 or 3 years old up through 10. I’m sure I’ll add more as time goes on, but this is a great place to start if this is new to you.
- VACUUMING – I find that kids really like vacuuming. The only issue is that the vacuum cleaner is often too heavy for them. We started them with a little handheld for in between cushions, little floor messes, etc and once they were strong enough, moved to the full size vacuum. This is mainly my 5YO boy’s job because he likes to do it! He can easily use this particular vacuum cleaner.
- FOLDING & PUTTING AWAY CLOTHES – Almost any child of any age can do this one. I haven’t put away kids clothes in years. We still use this simple 3-basket laundry system and it works really well. We separate out the adult & kids clothes after washing and their clothes go into a basket on their bedroom floor, then they are responsible for putting the clothes away.
- SETTING THE TABLE – My middle child LOVES setting the table. She’s been doing this since she was 4 and does everything from napkins to water cups. It’s her “thing” so rarely does anyone else ever do it because she beats them to it!
- CLEARING THE TABLE AFTER MEALS – Even if they’re too short to place dishes in the sink, have them take their dishes from the table to the counter top near the sink or hand them to an older sibling who can reach the sink.
- SWEEPING – They each started doing this around age 5.
- STRAIGHTENING UP A ROOM – Once upon a time, I used to pick up the entire downstairs after the kids went to bed, and it would take me a good 20 minutes to put away toys, straight up the living room, clear the counters, etc. I finally realized that everyone should be pitching in right before bed because everyone helped make the mess! So the kids pick up all of their things and straighten up the couch right before bed, and all I do is sweep the kitchen while they get ready for bed. Easy peasy!
- PUT AWAY THE DISHES – This started with them just putting away plastic items and slowly moved up to breakable things as they got stronger and taller. My 10YO is currently the only one who can reach all the cabinets, so this is mostly her job for now. We have a good groove going where I always keep the dishes loaded, and she keeps them unloaded. This works out especially well for me because I hate unloading dishes (shhhh don’t tell my kids! 🙂
- TAKE OUT THE TRASH – They all love doing this so it’s no problem at all to get them to help. I think they like it because it seems like a “grown up” thing to do and also because it feels like they’re helping Daddy, who normally does it.
- WASH CLOTHES – If your washer & dryer is anything like mine, it’s probably crazy simple to use. I’m finding that even my 5YO can run the cycles…he’s just not ready to put in the detergent yet because the bottle is too heavy. The older two kids are pros at washing clothes and they think it’s fun!
- CLEAN THE BATHROOM – The kids are more than capable of wiping down the counters & mirrors, filling up the soap dispensers, cleaning the toilets and mopping the floors. This is not something I’ve had them do many times yet, but they’re starting to get the hang of it.
- BONUS – WIPE DOWN THE CABINETS – I don’t know how this happens, but our kitchen cabinets constantly have drippings of ice cream, sauces, and the like running down them. Every few weeks, the kids help out by wiping down the counters on a day that we’re doing a deeper cleaning. All they need is a wet rag and a little elbow grease. They consider this one of the easier chores, so no one minds doing it.
Tips for Successfully Assigning Chores for Kids
- GIVE PLENTY OF PRAISE. Even if they did a bad job, express your GRATITUDE for their help. Praise them for doing it with a good attitude. If they didn’t do it properly, then show them how they could do it better next time but don’t make a big deal about it looking bad. Just remember – they WILL DO IT POORLY in the beginning. Nobody can sweep up every little crumb the first time they sweep, so make sure you have reasonable expectations for their age.
- PLAY TO THEIR STRENGTHS – One of your kids might be better at folding laundry and matching socks while another is really great at and enjoys mopping. Assign chores based on their strengths and likes, and you’ll have way more cooperation plus you will be more pleased with the outcome.
- DON’T COMPARE THEIR EFFORTS – Anytime you compare how well one child is cooperating with another child’s bad attitude, you’re not teaching a lesson, you’re fostering sibling rivalry. I learned this lesson the hard way ya’ll! I find the best results from assigning distinct chores and holding each child accountable for their own actions.
- DON’T GIVE REWARDS – I am all for reward charts for certain things for younger kids (like going potty), but I think giving rewards for doing something you’re supposed to do for being part of the family defeats the purpose of teaching lessons like accountability and responsibility. Plus, reward charts thrown an unnecessary wrench into assignments. When one kid is sick, you might have to reassign a chore temporarily or perhaps someone has extra chores for another reason. Now you gotta take that silly reward chart into account instead of just verbally assigning things. Instead of a reward chart, I like CHORE LISTS. You can use this free printable chore chart for this. Kids love marking off items that they complete. Just make a list of their chores and have them mark them off as they’re done each day. Some weeks we don’t even use an official chore chart….we hung a dry erase whiteboard like this one on our hallway wall for this. All 3 kids love making their own lists and they even add extra chores to show off. 🙂 #momwin
- ASSIGN A MIX OF EASY + HARD CHORES – I try to make a point to level out the time commitment of each child’s daily chore list. I wouldn’t assign one kid all the laundry and mopping while another only had to straighten up the living room. That wouldn’t be right. Another thing is that we typically rotate daily chores so one person isn’t stuck with the same boring thing every day. We don’t have set chores that one child does on a particular day. Rather, I like to pick a few chores for the day that we’ll all help with. So for instance, today we did laundry and mopped the floors. So one child kept the washer & dryer going, while the other two folded each basket as it came through. A child who didn’t sweep yesterday did it today, and then I mopped. Each child pitched in for about an hour total each, and the entire project was done.
- KEEP YOUR OWN ATTITUDE IN CHECK – Never let your kids see that you “hate chores.” If they think that you hate chores, they will view them as something to hate. It’s not always easy, but I try to have a pleasant attitude when it comes to chores because I love taking care of my family in this way even when it’s not what I feel like doing in the moment. I’m trying to teach them the same thing. This may seem silly, but it makes a huge difference in their attitudes.
Benefits of Requiring Chores
I’ve been pleasantly surprised recently at how well my kids are pitching in. What used to be a battle for every little effort is now painless most of the time. When I was sick recently, my oldest made everyone lunch, coordinated her brother & sister to set & clean the table, and swept the entire downstairs while I was bed ridden. I woke up to a nice surprise and a well fed family! I couldn’t have asked for better teamwork and thoughtfulness, and she’s only 10.
With the exception of prepping for a meal and using the stove to cook more than one thing, she can actually do almost everything that I can do to take care of the family, and I am super proud of her. In a few years, she will know everything that’s necessary to take care of herself + a future family.
I think that after 7 years of expecting her to pitch in, she no longer views this as something I’m forcing her to do, which was my point all along. I want my kids to take care of things in the home because they are part of the family and we care for one another. Not because they’ll get a reward or get in trouble for not doing it.
I hope this article helps you as you implement chores for your kids. It’s not the easiest path to follow, but I promise it’s very rewarding.
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Easy to Use Broom for Little Kids!
They loved helping do “big kid chores” even when they were tiny. We had a broom just like this for when they were toddlers.
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