Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chores for Kids

In our family, we believe that kids should help out around the house.  As family members, they need to contribute in age appropriate ways.  There are a lot of reasons for this: a growing sense of personal responsibility, skills that will serve them later in life and, most importantly, a heart of service.

We have done chore lists in the past, but right now we are just going on basic areas of responsibility. 

Here is what works for us in various areas of housework.

Dressing: Children dress themselves in weather appropriate clothing.  Big kids help little kids.  I usually dress the baby.  It helps quite a bit that I don't care what they wear day-to-day.  If they need something specific for church or some other event, I lay it out for them.

Bedrooms: Kids are responsible for keeping their rooms picked up as well as gathering their personal belongings from downstairs and putting them away.  I usually need to be on hand for this to keep the troops motivated as well as to help with some trickier things, but they usually do a pretty good job.  I do all the sweeping/mopping/dusting.

Laundry: I do the laundry at this point, but the kids are responsible for putting their dirty laundry in the hampers for me to collect, and the older 2 put away their own laundry after I fold it.

Dishes: the older 3 set the table and clear it.  I rinse and put the dishes in the dishwasher and unload it.

Garbage: B brings the trash cans back after trash day.  He also takes out the bathroom trash as needed.

General help: This pertains to having a willing heart and quick response when Mama asks for help.  I try to keep track as well as possible to ensure I'm not picking on just one of my bigger kids too often.  This is usually little jobs like "could you bring me a diaper" or "play with your brother for a few minutes while I make a phone call" or "please buckle your sister into her carseat."  

Baths:  I bathe the littles.  B may be asked to start the bath water but I stay with them.  He is in charge of his own shower and getting the water on for D's shower.  This has been such a blessing that they can both shower themselves!  Definitely saves me time.

As I mentioned before, this is not a definitive list and we don't check it off daily, but it is what is working around here for now.

What do you have your children do around the house?  At what ages do you begin requiring chores?


  1. Rowan does pretty much the same things as your kids. Empties the trashes, gets the recycling ready to take out, picks up his room/toys. Makes his own bed, sets/clears the table, puts dirty clothes in the hampers, helps me dust, gets himself clothed, vacuums designated areas from time to time. That's about all for now - and he doesn't do everything every day. I will say that if the table is set without his help he is inevitably surprised though! He's a willing helper and it makes for good parent/child bonding. :) I love to praise his efforts and he likes it too.

  2. My older kids (starting around age 8) each have a "domain" that they are in charge of. They have to pick up and sweep or vacuum their domain twice/day. Brandon has the kitchen and that will pass down to Hannah next year. They all help with the dishwasher, laundry, and bedrooms. Sam (5) LOVES vacuuming so he will do that occasionally. THey all have special weekly chores as well. Big kids have bathrooms to clean, stairs to vacuum, yard work, cleaning out the van, etc. I run a tight ship but when everyone chips in to help things are better for everyone. And I feel like I'm sending them off knowing how to run a household. That's an invaluable skill.

  3. It is so true that parental praise and admiration really brings out the helper in children!! B has recently discovered the joy of vacuuming (we don't use ours much due to only having one small rug) and really jumps at the chance these days. I try to praise my kids on not just the job done but on how quickly they respond when I need them to really hop-to. I love them helping their siblings get dressed and brush teeth because I think it helps them bond as well.

  4. Amy, you are an absolute inspiration. I still want your secret on how you make them all do it without mouthing off!

  5. We're having fun this summer with an idea that popped to mind due to a cool old chalkboard that's been floating around our house for years. I decided to use the chalkboard for what we're calling "Chalkboard Chores/Chalkboard Challenge." One day they'll wake to a variety of chores assigned to each kid (and sometimes I write one that I'm doing) and the next day they wake to a challenge (today was "play at least 20 games of Uno before bedtime and every member of the family, minus the baby, has to play at least one game, they loved it).

    That's been a lot of fun for everyone, even though I haven't been perfect with getting something written every day. And they take the "chores' part very seriously without any whining that might come with just asking out of the blue.

  6. I have littles...my oldest being 3, but he does age appropriate chores. He sorts his dirty laundry, helps fold towels, helps me do dishes, and keeps his room clean. He has his own broom and vacuum (toy ones) and he really enjoys "helping" me do these chores. We make chores fun with his choice of music. Every night before bath time we have clean up time, dancing to music as we pick up evidence of a day well spent/played. This sets the stage for a clean start in the morning, which is really necessary in cramped quarters.

    and your last post you stated you found the workable solution to 3 year old complaining...please share : ).

  7. Elijah is 22 months, but he started doing chores somewhere around 15 months, I would guess. I need to be more consistent but he's interested, so he has the jobs of throwing away his dirty diapers, cleaning up his toys and helping set and clear the table for dinner.

  8. Oh Nichole I love it when the littlest ones help! Jonah likes to throw diapers and other assorted things away and help pick up toys and blocks. Its great to cultivate that so early!

    Kristina - it seemed silly to me at first, but since it actually worked, I'm a huge believer. I've always told my kids what to do and then, if they don't want to do it and feel boxed in, they whine or throw a fit. With F, I started giving her choices. "You can whine about this, but you will be put down for a nap. If you don't whine, you can stay up and play with everyone else." It sounds ridiculously simple, and it is. She picks the right almost every time and I don't get all worked up and emotional. When she chooses wrong, I can quickly implement a consequence without being worn down by all the whining and tantruming. So there you have it!

  9. I don't have set chores for my kids, but ask them to participate as much as possible. This includes unloading the dishwasher (J, 22 months, really loves to do this!), putting toys away, putting dirty clothes in hamper, keeping shoes in their area, throwing things away, setting the table, taking their dishes to the sink after meals, etc. Of course I'm not super consistent with it, but the biggest thing to us is a good heart about it as well. I did get a chore chart at the dollar store a few weeks ago, and have been debating implementing it just to make it a little more "fun" for the kids, and more tangible. (Not so much for rewards, though, since we want them to do the chores simply because they're asked, not because they get a reward out of it...)


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