Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chores Kids Can Do

We are on Day 3 of my first blog series: Kids & Chores. If you missed Day 1 or Day 2, you can click on the links below:
Day 1: Why I am Doing a Series On Kids & Chores
Day 2: How to Teach Kids a New Chore

I quickly learned early in these 14 years I have been a mom that I cannot do it all in my home. And if I try, I am just not that pleasant to be around. So I learned early (like as soon as my firstborn could walk) that I need to delegate household tasks to my kids.

Sometimes I feel guilty delegating chores to my kids. My mind and heart swarm with thoughts like:

"My kids need to be playing outside. They should be hanging out with the other neighborhood kids after school. They have been inside all day at school and now they come home and have chores and homework and baths and bed. There is just not enough time for both chores and play."
"Let kids be kids. They are only young once. Don't rob them of the one childhood they have."


“Childhood is supposed to be this time of carefree fun.”

BUT I have learned to replace those thoughts with the truths of:

Kids need to know they are valubale to a family and giving them chores teaches them that they are needed (even vital) for the family to function.

Kids do want to help. Kids want to feel needed. Kids want to do important work. Chores allow kids to help and be part of a team.

Giving my kids chores now will ensure that my kids will not struggle as adults to take care of their own homes. Chores teach responsibility, life skills and character.

Chores are a tool to train our kids how to persevere, how to push beyond what feels good or what they want to do. Chores help build self-discipline.

So what chores are kids capable of? What chores can you expect a kid to do? I remember being surprised at what my 2 and 3 year olds could do. There are tons of age appropriate chore lists out there, just google “age appropriate chores for kids”.

But I thought I would share what chores my kids are responsible for as well as what ya’ll have emailed and shared with me about what your kids do.

Toddlers (walking age-2)

One Intentional Home reader said “We started young with the goal that when the kids were older, they woud just never remember NOT doing chores. We figured it would be so much easier to just know chores are expected than trying to turn the tide when the kids got older."  I thought that was wise as little ones can certainly put their pjs away, put their shoes away, help make their bed (put their pillow and animals on the made bed), help pick up toys, and put dirty clothes in the hamper. 

I would so put a picture here
but my computer screen is still broken.
All my pictures are on my computer.. .agh!
Preschooler (3-4)

Preschoolers can do all the above plus:
Empty little trashcans around house into main kitchen trashcan
Empty dishwasher and put silverware away
Match socks
Wipe out sinks

Elementary Age (5-8)

Another Intentional Home reader (thanks Susan!) shared with me that she had her daughter (who is now 28!) start doing chores at age 5 and those chores included polishing switchplates (they had brass then), making her bed, setting the table, emptying trash cans, and picking up pinecones.

Chores I have my 7 year old do are:

Bring in groceries from the car and help put them away
Take the trashcan and recycling bin out to the street
Sweep walkways and porch and hardwoods
Clean out car and vacuum car
Help make lunch for school
Set table for dinner
Wipe down dinner table and the chairs
Straighten out drawers (that is what Daniel and David are doing above, cleaning out my spice drawer)

Preteen (9-12) and Teen (13 and up)

Oh this is when they truly are such a help around the house. My Brooke is 11, my David is 12, and my Anna is 14.

By age 10ish, 11 they do all the above and:
Prepare drinks for dinner
Do their own laundry
Clean the bathrooms/Wash the mirror in bathrooms
Clean their own rooms
Organize closets and cupboards
Mow the lawn
Do yard work/Weed the garden
Chop wood/Build a fire
Rinse dinner dishes and load dishwasher
Make desserts and simple meals (remember David's breakfast burritos?)
Make and pack their lunch
Wash windows
Wash the car

Of course the more they practice, the better they get. 

Teaching kids to do chores is not easy. They whine. They complain. They often do it wrong. They often make more work for you in the end. If you are like me, you often feel guilty for making your kids do chores. But intentional women think long term. Intentional women know chores build character and a sense of belonging to the family. Intentional women know that chores prepare their children for the future.

Come back tomorrow when we'll explore getting kids to do their chores with a good attitude and getting them to take their time and not rush thru their work. I so need your input for this post. Tell me how you motivate your kids to take responsibility for their chores?


  1. I am really enjoying your first series! :) I wanted to share how we keep our kids motivated to do chores.

    Money honey! We really seldom buy our kids toys, etc with the exception of birthdays and Christmas. If they want to buy something they are going to have to save their money! They each have 5 chores to do each day. It is all or nothing, so all 5 chores have to be completed by days end. If they completed their chores at the end of the day we give them $1 each. Each time they want to spend their money they have to give 10% to church and save 20% for long term saving. We deposit that amount into a savings acct for them. Anyway, it works great! There have been some occasions where they didn't want to do their chores, and I don't make a big deal about it. But I tell you, they hop back into the game each time they tell me something they want and I tell them they have to save their money! :)

    Anyway, I hope that helps!

  2. Hi Su,

    I too believe in chores for the same reasons that you do. Before I went back to work the boys (ages 4 and 6)were: clearing the table, putting their shoes, coats and backpacks where they go each day, making their beds, folding laundry and putting away their clothes, working in the yard, emptying trash, wiping out bathroom sinks and, of course, picking up their toys. We had ample time to spread the chores out over the week. Now we rarely get home before 5:30; sometimes it's 6:00! None of us do chores during the week anymore, with the exception of putting their shoes, coats and backpacks where they go and clearing plates at dinner. I've been so tired and overwhelmed that I've lost the drive to urge them to chores on the weekend, so that has fallen off quite a bit too. They do still help when I ask them to on the weekends, and I don't pay them unless it's a large project (maybe seasonal) that's not a regular chore.


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