Chores for Children

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There is so much value in giving chores to children.

When my son was a year old, he learned to put his toys away; and his chores increased as he grew.

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Trash Detail

That baby is now an 8 year-old that maintains a clean room and makes his bed daily.  He also helps empty and load the dishwasher, sorts and folds laundry, does yard work, dusts, cleans bathrooms, feeds and cleans up after pets, shakes rugs, sets and clears the table, sweeps, mops, puts groceries away, helps make meals, empties the garbage, and cleans out the car. Granted, it’s not farm living, but I’m really proud of him!

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Washing

I know parents whose children also have chores, and I know parents who are surprised by what I ask of my son. I’ve never given a second thought to my expectations for chores; and to be honest, my son goes with the flow because helping has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember.

 

One of the main reasons I gave my son chores early on is because there isn’t a male example in our home. I didn’t want my little boy to watch me do everything, then grow up to be a man who believes that a woman can and should take care of everything without support. But I’ve come to understand that the value of chores is much greater than just having help or teaching my son how to contribute to a family.

 

What my child has gained from having chores:

A Sense of Purpose and Belonging – He knows his participation in taking care of our home is important, greatly appreciated, and highly valued.

Time Management and Delayed Gratification – If his room is clean the night before and his bed is made in the morning before school, he has time after school to play football or watch some TV.

Confidence – He knows how to work, and he feels accomplished when he’s finished.

Respect and Responsibility – Favorite toys are safe from puppy teeth and Legos don’t go missing if they are kept in their proper place. Also, fresh-smelling laundry and a clean toilet are well worth a little effort!

Cooperation – He wants to play but I’ve got a house to clean. He knows we can play sooner and longer if he helps me out.

Strength, Balance, and Manual Dexterity – Shaking rugs, pulling weeds, shoveling dog poo, and folding socks are all good activities for a growing body.

A few chore guidelines that I follow:

Have Fun. Every Saturday we list 5 to 10 tasks each to complete around the house. We turn on some music, get busy, and see who finishes first!

Set Limits. I use a timer for chores: 5-10 minutes a couple nights a week and 45 minutes on Saturday. We set the timer and work until we’re finished or the timer goes off.  I’m always surprised by what can be accomplished in a short time, and the timer sends a clear message to my son that chores aren’t going to last forever.

Offer Praise. I often mention how much I appreciate what my little guy does around the house, and I don’t diminish his ability by finishing a job for him or being overly directive about how he goes about his tasks.

Give Rewards. After chores, we reward ourselves with popsicles, some relaxing snuggle time, a game of one-on-one, or even a little shared “kid crack” time. (For more on Kid Crack, click here.)

Be Consistent. With a little consistency, tasks that start off as chores become automatic habits: shoes in the closet, toys on the shelf, dirty dishes in the dishwasher.  If we stick to a schedule, it becomes less like work and more of a routine.

Take Time Off. Sometimes it’s okay to skip chores, leave dishes in the sink, or not make the beds.  Maintaining our home is important, but it’s absolutely okay to take a break once in a while.

How about you?  What kinds of chores have you assigned, and how do you keep your kids on track?  For a few home cleaning tips to help with family chores, be sure to check out Rebecca’s recent post.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Love this Toni! I tend to get lazy and do everything myself since it usually takes more effort to have my kids help, but I better start now if I want help later 😉

    • Thanks Rebecca!

      Keep in mind I only have one…And it’s just the two of us. Having more than that prob requires much more planning…God bless you. And you’re right…it’s hard not to do it yourself. I read somewhere that it’s best to just tell them the right way and if it’s not done, don’t do it for them. Honestly, I’ve gotten to where I don’t do it so he can see…but I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t go back and re-dust the table or straighten the silverware drawer after he’s in bed. Baby steps, I guess…

  2. These are great ideas Toni! I love how it’s actually fun for kids to help at an early age, I just have to remember to take the time to include them! And praise them too.

  3. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    I have to say, chores are one thing…but these days Evan leaves his stuff everywhere! Another post for another time, I guess…

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