I hated having chores growing up. I vowed that when I became a parent, I wouldn’t make my kids help with the housework. It’s not something I believed in. Chores for kids sounded like a horrible idea. They’re just kids I thought, why should they have to take care of the housework for my home? Their job should be to have fun, make a mess and just enjoy being kids. It is my job as a mom, after all, to keep them happy, fed, and safe right? Wrong, so totally wrong.
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A few months ago, I spent my entire day cleaning and organizing the whole house. I started with the living room, moved to the kitchen, then the kids’ room. I was exhausted. All I wanted was to sit down and relax with a great book. But the house was a wreck. The toys were falling out of the toy box. I mean literally, falling out of the toy box. They just didn’t fit. I’ll be completely honest, at that point, I just wanted to throw them all out. It’s not like the boys actually played with any of them. It just seemed like they pulled them all out to sit down and watch tv.
I tried so hard to get the boys to help. I mean really tried, I even bribed them with money or new toys. What the hell was I thinking there? Thank goodness that didn’t even get them to help. Here I am trying to find room for all the toys, and I offer them new toys.
I wanted to just give up. I hated the mess, but I hated cleaning it even more. How was I keeping my kids happy by making myself miserable trying to clean up after them constantly? All I wanted was to be a good mom and keep my kids happy. I started wondering if I had made the right decision by not enforcing chores. But I just didn’t know if giving them chores was going to ruin my “good mommy” role.
Starting to Get the Kids Involved
We’ve all been there. It’s a hard place to find yourself in. This is exactly why I gave up following them around to clean up after them. But you know what, my house is still clean and it’s clean because I started giving them responsibilities! Yep, that’s right. My kids help with the housework. And they get an allowance only if they’ve done extra work, like help me in the yard or with big cleaning tasks.
So how did I get from exhausting daily messes to a neat and tidy home you ask? Well, I started off giving the children small tasks that they were required to do regularly.
Age-Appropriate Chores For Kids
There are chores for kids of all ages. Yes, you can give your 1-year-old small tasks that will help you! Little kids love to help people. I don’t know what it is. Unfortunately, they grow out of that though. But you can create lifelong lessons starting very young by offering them tasks that they enjoy. If they enjoy it, it’s less likely to feel like a chore. On top of that, they’ll start forming habits and soon enough it will be like second nature to them. Kind of like potty-training. They suck at it in the beginning, but soon enough they’ve got the hang of it and you don’t have to remind them constantly to do it!
So what small tasks can you start with to begin to teach them responsibility? Here are a few age-appropriate chores for kids that you can start with:
1-3 years old
Put dirty clothes in hamper/basket
Wipe down the table with a wet sponge/cloth
Vaccum (yeah, they really can do that!)
Picking up their toys when they are done
4-6 years old
Clearing their plate after dinner
Putting dishes away
Putting groceries away
7+ years old
Cleaning out the fridge
Taking the trash out
Pretty much anything else you can think of
It really is as simple as adding a task or two once they get used to doing them. My 4-year-old helps around the house constantly. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that they make mistakes and they truly do forget. But raising the standards at which we hold our children actually does encourage growth. They’ll surprise you really quickly.
Rewarding Their Hard Work
Now I know that I said that allowance doesn’t apply in my house. So we created a better way to reward them for doing their chores all of the time. This goes beyond saying thank-you and good job when they do things without being asked. Kids always want something. But they don’t always deserve it. So how do you use a chore system to reward their repetitive good behavior? By creating simple rewards that seem small to you, but are big to them.
What chores do you give your children and at what age did they start doing chores?