With parents and kids home together these days, it’s a good time to talk about daily chores. We all had them growing up, but in our busy days with specialized sports, focus on getting into great schools, SAT scores, etc. we often become lax with the daily duties. What do chores teach our kids? Responsibility, being proud of a job well-done, and self-worth are a few of the bonuses of chores.
Although I wasn’t strict about giving my kids chores and following up to see that they were done — my mom sure was. Maybe that’s why I was lax with my children. My brother and I would come home to an empty house after school and we’d spy the dreaded list. It was on a yellow legal pad, single spaced, filled up the entire page and part of the back. I HATED those lists. My mom’s writing was a terrible sprawl and it took work to make out all the stuff she’d written. From sweeping the sidewalk, vacuuming the living room to cleaning the bathroom and weeding the garden, she found plenty for us to do. I realize now that she was giving us more than we could finish. It was her way of keeping us out of trouble while we were home alone.
I did try in the summertime to assign my kids chores like alternating nights for dishes. My daughter came up with the best excuse ever. She was allergic to either the latex gloves or the dish soap. She’d get all blotchy whenever it was her turn to do dishes. Amazing but true. Then try to enforce dishes on the other child, when one has weaseled out successfully!
I read an informative article on WLNS.com called, “PARENTING CONNECTION: Chores Help Kids Build Worth and Responsibility” by Jorma Duran. The article described the benefits to assigning chores to kids and there was even a helpful list of what kids could do at certain ages. I wish I’d been stricter with my kids and chores. But, they seemed so busy with swim practice, piano and mountains of homework. It was easier to get things done myself rather than have them find time. This article would have been helpful back then.
Child experts say, study after study shows kids who are given household duties are more responsible, can deal with frustration better, and have higher self-esteem. These three qualities can help kids in both school and in society. That being said — suddenly presenting chores for kids who haven’t done them before will likely go over poorly, so strategies to get them interested include:
*Impress upon them you feel they’re responsible enough to help the family by doing certain tasks
*Make the requests simple, but important
*Offer up options
Child development expert Claire Vallotton with MSU says, introducing household chores can start when toddlers began responding to direction.
“Not only are they building life skills, like doing your own laundry or cooking, that is really important when you are on your own — but they are also learning the values of being part of a family and contributing to that. Little ones are so anxious to actually be part of the family and do the work of adults it’s not a challenge to get them to do it — it’s just a challenge to help them do it.”
Here’s a short list of chores matching the skill level for certain ages:
**Ages 2 – 3
*Pick up playthings with supervision
*Take their dirty laundry to the laundry basket
**Ages 4 – 5
*Make their bed with minimal help
*Pick up their toys
**Ages 6 – 7
*Choose the day’s outfit and get dressed
*Be responsible for a pet’s food, water, and exercise
**Ages 8 – 11
*Learn to use the washer and dryer
*Take the trash can to the curb for pick-up
**Ages 12 – 13
*Vacuum the house
*Mow the lawn with supervision
What is your experience with chores as a child? What chores do you give your children? Do you find being home with them now gives you more time to do chores?