Creating Self-Sufficient Adults

One Child At A Time…

I’ve never held to the philosophy that kids should be kids and never have chores or responsibilities. To me, 4 people live in our house and mess it up. So 4 people should clean it (in some proportion or another)

Part of this attitude might stem from my upbringing. By the time I turned 18 and my little brother was born, my mom was able to go to the hospital and have confidence my sis and I could take care of ourselves, the house, and our farm full of animals without burning anything down (we had a wood stove for a heater).

cleaning mom

So mine have had “chores” since they were little. We didn’t always call them that. But now they have things they do as part of the family (1 per day), and special things they do to earn allowance. Or money for something in particular: my son empties the bathroom trashes once a week to earn the weekly dues for his Cub Scout meetings.

1-3 years: Picking up their toys. I would gather everything on the floor into 1 big pile and get them to put the pile away. It seemed to be easier because they didn’t have the “find” instinct yet. I also got them to put their plates/cups in the sink. Make this into a clean-up game and it becomes much easier.

3-5 years: Again, picking up toys. At this point, I graduated to cleaning their rooms (with some help from me). Putting away school stuff when they get home (same place every day). Throwing away trash. Feeding animals. Putting their dinner dishes in dishwasher (I’ve heard. I still haven’t been able to accomplish this with mine).

5-7 years: Here’s where the real work begins. They start to have tons of things they’d rather do than help, so we introduced the concept of “chores”. On top of things they have already been doing, they started helping with laundry. First matching socks together. Putting away socks and underwear. Then graduating to folding pants and towels. Only when my son was 8 did we start shirts, and I still have to watch him with those. About 7 years old, we started unloading the dishwasher. Silverware, then cups, plates, bowls.

8-12 years: This is the big years, where they can learn bunches of stuff! My daughter started doing her own laundry, start to finish, when she was 11. She also cleans her bathroom sink and mirrors. We’re currently learning to vacuum. My son cleans the toilet in their bathroom, our glass doors, and dusting with a swiffer.

I imagine after this we’ll be able to move onto washing dishes (thank goodness!) and my daughter has shown an interest in cooking. Yay! We still argue about chores occasionally, but for the most part, everyone pitches in and a lot gets done. Leaving plenty of time for play!

How do you handle chores at your house?

About the author: daniwade6565

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  1. Ginger Robertson - February 11, 2013 Reply

    Good info Dani and that your children are involved in running of the household. And, I feel like you, that 4 people are living there and 4 people should help. When I was growing up, there were 7 kids and we helped with the running of the home and with my younger brother and sister. It’s good for them and they will use these learning experiences later in life whether they go to college or start employment. Every parent should do this for their kids.

  2. Dani Wade - February 11, 2013 Reply

    Ginger, I’ll never forget hearing a mom talk about her 17 year old…who didn’t know how to do laundry. I kept wondering how the kid was gonna have clean clothes once he left for college! They might as well start early. And its amazing the difference it makes for ME to have even the smallest things done.

    We have a new routine where I cook dinner, Book Worm helps me put it away and wipes down the counters, and Little Man wipes off the table. Easy peasy. And I don’t have to walk into a messy kitchen the next morning. Yay!

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