Kids & Chores

My youngest son Luke, helping clean up after dinner many years ago!

My youngest son Luke, helping clean up after dinner many years ago!

Managing a home, family, and career can be very overwhelming and challenging. Many moms that I work with have a tendency to place the burden of keeping their home cleaned up and organized on themselves, rather than teaching their children how to help around the house and put things away. Having a place for everyone’s belongings and systems in place to keep things ordered and organized at home is crucial for a peaceful and joyful life. Especially when there are several people living in one space, it is helpful for everyone to know where thing belong so that they can find them when they need them and can put them away when they are done with them.

It is also really important to teach our children, starting when they are toddlers, how to manage their room, toys, and clothes, and as they get older their schoolwork and paperwork. When our kids were growing up, they began receiving an allowance when they were 5. As they gained that privilege, there were corresponding responsibilities and chores that they needed to complete around the house. Each year their allowance was raised, and the responsibilities and chores grew as well. For example, because we had four children laundry became overwhelming for me to handle on my own. When each of our kids turned eight they became responsible for washing, folding, and putting away their clothes.  This not only helped me, but it also gave them a sense that they were growing up and becoming responsible. For their birthday every year I gave them a few coupons (for me to do their laundry for them) and this became one of their most anticipated and favorite gifts! When they got to college they couldn't believe that many of the other students didn't know how to do their own laundry. 

Here is a chart that might be helpful as you work with your kids to teach them how to help out around the house.

KIDS AND CHORES: Some guidelines

It can be difficult to figure out what to expect from your child when it comes to chores. Are they really capable of helping to clean? Using this list of age appropriate chores you can review some guidelines to use when creating chore charts for your children.

Ages 2 and 3

Toddlers love to help with chores, and while their helping may not always be as helpful as we would hope, keeping their excitement and the habit of helping out alive is worth the extra effort on our part. Lots of toddlers love to see a visual reminder of their success, making sticker charts a great choice. Although chores may only be completed with you helping each step of the way, you are creating positive habits for children who will find chores and helping a way of life.

Some chores 2-3 year olds can do…

  • Help make the bed

  • Pick up toys and books

  • Take laundry to the laundry room

  • Help feed pets

  • Help wipe up messes

  • Dust with socks on their hands

  • Mop in areas with help

Ages 4 and 5

The great thing about preschool aged kids is that they are still fairly motivated to help. Preschoolers also love individual time with adults. If you take some time to teach them new chores one on one, they will usually love it. Many kids at this age are ready to do chores without constant supervision. Kids at this stage love rewards, and they don't have to be huge. Try using a sticker chart that allows them to build up to bigger rewards. For some preschoolers, tying chores to an allowance is a great choice. This can also foster independence by allowing them to choose a reward.

Some chores preschoolers can do in addition to the ones above…

  • Clear and set the table

  • Dust

  • Help out in cooking and preparing food

  • Carrying and putting away groceries

Ages 6-8

Although enthusiasm for chores may diminish for school-aged kids, they have other redeeming qualities that work well for chores. What most school-aged children have in abundance is an overwhelming desire to be independent. Parents and caregivers can guide children to become self-sufficient in their chores by using chore charts to keep track of their responsibilities. Be sure to keep track of completed responsibilities because this will help motivate children to continue working.

Some chores that they are capable of in addition to the ones above…

  • Take care of pets

  • Vacuum and mop

  • Take out trash

  • Fold and put away laundry

Ages 9-12

This older group of children suddenly becomes capable of a lot of things in a short amount of time. Kids at this age will appreciate a set schedule and expectations. Try throwing a lot of unexpected work at them and watch them get upset. But if you create a schedule or system with a little input from them, you'll find a smooth transition. It's best to find a system that works for your family. Try not to change it without the input and support of the people it directly affects. Part of this system should address rewards and negative consequences for chores so that these results are laid out and understood in advance.

Some chores preteens are capable of in addition to the ones above…

  • Help wash the car

  • Learn to wash dishes

  • Help prepare simple meals

  • Clean the bathroom

  • Rake leaves

  • Do their own laundry

Ages 13-18

Most teenagers are capable of handling nearly any chore in the home, as long as they've been taught properly. One thing to be sensitive to, however, is the cramped schedule that many teenagers find themselves with. Just as we get overwhelmed when we have too much to do, teenagers can find themselves struggling to maintain an unmanageable workload. Monitor your teens schedule and adjust activities and chores accordingly.

Some chores teenagers are capable of in addition to the ones above…

  • Replace light bulbs and vacuum cleaner bags

  • All parts of the laundry

  • Wash windows

  • Clean out the refrigerator and other kitchen appliances

  • Prepare meals

  • Prepare grocery lists

Remember that children mature at their own pace and not all kids will be capable of advanced chores at the same age, just as some children may be ready for more difficult chores at a younger age. The most important guidelines are supervision and evaluation of your child’s needs and abilities. Be sure to advance your child through more challenging chores as they master the basic ones. It can be easy to let a child keep performing the same chores because they are good at them, but introducing new chores at regular intervals will actually benefit them in the long wrong. Be sure to institute a "training period" with new chores where you are teaching them the ins and outs of how to clean properly.

I hope that this chore chart helps you as you encourage your children to participate in keeping your home in order. If you would like some help organizing a child's bedroom, play space, or any other area of your home, please contact me! I'd love to come alongside you to "make space for life!"