Your kids are busy! After a fun and stimulating day at preschool or daycare, followed by music lessons, and on the heels of a weekend spent playing soccer or practicing gymnastics, it’s hard to imagine giving your child one more item on their to-do list. These days, chores have been swept under the rug. There are good reasons to involve your children in the household chores. When you dole out age appropriate tasks and make them fun to complete, you’ll have a well-run home with children who appreciate the value of accomplishment and accountability.
Chores teach children a great deal about the world they inhabit. Our lives make better sense when we put things back where we found them, clean up our messes (both literally and figuratively), and help others when we can. When kids are taught to put their toys away after they are finished playing with them, they learn that the clean, uncluttered floor they run around on doesn’t get that way magically! It is a product of work on their parts or on the parts of the parents and siblings who love them. Putting away one’s toys doesn’t just make the house look neat, it keeps the toys safe from harm and keeps the floors clear so that little feet can race around without tripping. When a parent puts away a child’s toys, it is an act of love. When a child is taught to put away his own toys, he can learn that it is an act of love and respect for himself, his family, and even his beloved toys. Similarly, when a child helps mom or dad with a chore, she can learn a little bit about how good helping can feel. Helping promotes a feeling of self-confidence, and makes a child feel like an important part of her world.
When children are toddlers, it may seem as if teaching them to pitch in takes more time than simply doing a certain task yourself. In actuality you you are laying the groundwork for years of responsibility, good manners, and help around the house! When children are 2-3 years of age, they can easily be taught to put their toys and books away, put dirty clothes in the laundry basket, and dust surfaces without breakable items on them. Try doing these chores with your toddler at first, and then slowly ease them into doing them on their own. At ages 4-5, children may be able to make their beds or get dressed without too much assistance, and can help to set the table, under your supervision, and even prepare parts of their lunch or dinner. They might even be able to fill their pet’s food and water bowls, though some spilling may occur! By age 7, your child can take more responsibility for his own grooming, such as brushing his teeth, combing his hair, choosing his clothing, and getting himself dressed in the morning. Kids at this age may also learn to vacuum or mop, or fold laundry. At age 9 or so, many kids can start assisting with outdoor chores as well, such as washing the car, raking leaves, and taking the trash to the curb. By the time your kids are teens, you can enlist them to make dinner once or twice per week, wash, dry, and fold their own laundry, and babysit for younger siblings. This will teach them valuable skills that will be of great use when they are ready to fly the nest!
Want to make chores fun for your children? This gallery of creative “chore charts” is full of ideas. Divide your chores between family members in a handmade chore box, or write each task on a decorative popsicle stick. Let family members choose sticks from a jar at the beginning of the week! Another clever idea is to mark your household chores on a chore dice, and let each kid roll for his weekly chores! Making household chores feel like a fun project that the entire family participates in will get younger kids excited about the idea of doing chores and feeling a sense of accomplishment as they complete them.
How do you handle household chores? Do you have a chore wheel? Rewards? Are there any chores we’ve overlooked that your kids have turned out to enjoy? Let us know in the comments section! Also, check with your childcare provider to find out what tasks your child likes to perform at daycare, if you need a good starting place!