I am often asked, “What are good chores for kids to be doing at this age?”
Amazingly, I’m asked this more often than, “How do I get my kids to do chores?” Both are very important questions and actually go hand in hand.
As a mom of six, I do have some ideas as to what chores are good for kids to be doing and how to get kids to do them.
What chores do I suggest?
That all depends. Every child is different and ready for chores at different times. Some may be ready for chores at an early age, while others need extra time before more responsibility is asked of them.
Kids need to learn to manage themselves at a young age, so start with chores that are about them. For little kids I suggest activities such as:
Putting their clothes away in their dresser (sometimes it helps to print out pictures of shirts, pants & socks to tape to the front of the drawers)
Putting their toys away after they’ve played with them.
Putting their dirty dish in the sink.
Putting their wrappers in the garbage.
They learn to recognize that everything has a place and they directly touched or used that item in some way which needs to be taken care of.
When it comes to household chores for little kids, I like to start in the kitchen with putting away the utensils. They get to match spoons to spoons, knives to knives, forks to forks. It might be messy in the drawer at first (unless you have a little perfectionist) but my kids have loved it. This is a chore that is great for preschoolers or even younger if they’re ready.
The next chore is wiping down the table, which can lead to wiping down walls and as they get older, move to dusting and wiping windows. When they are young, give them a damp cloth and let them clean. Why not?
My eight year old will vacuum and while he needs someone to review his work with him either as he goes or after he’s done, he is learning to take on bigger tasks beyond just picking up toys he directly played with and is now thinking about what the family needs. He empties the dishwasher, helps carry in groceries, puts his dirty clothes in the correct laundry hamper (lights, darks, reds).
As they get older, they move into other jobs such as taking out the garbage, taking it down to the curb, mowing the lawn, sweeping the kitchen, cleaning the litter box, washing large items that don’t fit in the dishwasher and my favourite, doing their own laundry.
Don’t forget to teach them to cook. They will need to feed themselves one day. Get them in the kitchen. Let them work with you and eventually cook a meal for the whole family. My older kids now have a menu of items they can cook for themselves.
Click on the image to go to The Happy Housewife’s chore chart which will give you further ideas for chores your child could be doing.
But It’s Easier If I Do It Myself
Yes, it’s easier but they aren’t going to learn anything if you do it. These are life skills they need to acquire at some point in their lives because one day you won’t want them living at home anymore and you may want to visit them in their own place without fighting the urge to transform into their maid the whole time.
After they have done the chore to the best of their ability for their age, it’s okay to follow up the task with an adult’s touch, but give them a chance to build the skill and improve. Admit it, you wouldn’t do something if there was someone always willing and waiting to do it for you, right?
How Do I Motivate Them?
Praise. Lots and lots of praise. We all are willing to do more if we know our efforts are appreciated. Let’s face it, our kids really want to make us happy so let’s tell them when we’re proud of them.
Prioritize the chore. It comes before playing on video games. Take care of your responsibilities first, then go play.
Reward them. It can be anything from staying up later, to getting an ice cream cone, extra time on their video game and money. While we do want them to grow up to want to help the family without being compensated, there is something about receiving a token of someone’s appreciation.
Make it fun. Start when they are young to demonstrate that doing a chore doesn’t always have to be a chore. (See what I did there?). Even Snow White would whistle while she worked. Find a way to make cleaning up a game.
Put on a timer to see what can be done in 15 minutes.
Play a song on the radio and clean to the music.
Make a To Do list and make it a competition to see who can finish the most chores.
So there are my thoughts on chores. There are plenty of opportunities for you to get your kids involved at home. Only you know your children and what they are ready for. Don’t ask too much of them, but don’t ask too little either.
And now, I leave you with a YouTube skit I made with my boys a while ago. I hope you enjoy it.