Help a Mother Out: Teaching Kids to Help Around the House
Who makes dinner in your house? What about doing the shopping and laundry? Who cleans the house? Could it be, Mom? I think we can all agree that moms do it all (with style). But, the question is, do you have to? I know the instinct is to say, “Yes, otherwise nothing gets done.” And, while that may be true, is that the best way to live? That got me thinking about household chores for kids.
Here’s the deal. I put in my resignation. I’ve reached my limit. Like many of you, I have a lot on my plate and that plate is beginning to overflow. Call it a tantrum, or maybe a parental protest. I’m opting out of doing anything else around the house!
But, if I don’t do it, who will? Not it! Believe me, I wish I could pawn everything off on someone else, but that’s not reality.
Then, it occurred to me. The solution is, quite literally, under my nose. The kid!
Why Kids Should Do Chores
After tripping over the kiddo for the millionth time, I realized how often that happens. She’s always right there. Sometimes it feels like she’s in the way of whatever I am in a hurry to complete. But, that’s not it. She’s there because she wants to see, learn and help. So, why not let her do that. It might not take a lot off my plate, but it’s a start.
It’s important that we help our kids, male/ female/ non-binary, understand that gender does not have a role in the home. If you live in the house, you help out. Simple as that. Let’s avoid having everything fall on mom’s shoulders.
My case might be different than some of you. I am a single mom. Given that, I know that I am responsible for what happens in our house. But, what if I had a partner? Would that be the case? In some ways, my daughter is my partner. We’re a team. We live in the house together so it’s our responsibility to make sure the house is taken care of… together.
So, there is a reason why kids should do chores. One day, they won’t be kids any more. One day, they will be independent, full-grown adults. It’s our job to help them learn all of the tools they need to be functioning members of society.
Related Articles: Time Management for Single Moms
Benefits of Doing Household Chores for Kids
As previously mentioned, our little angels will soon be adults. So, as much as we might like to coddle and cuddle them, we need to prepare them for the future. Chores can help teach a number of beneficial life skills.
To start, kids learn responsibility. They learn that they are an important, contributing member of the family. This instills a sense of value and importance in them. They also recognize their capabilities, which helps their independence and sense of pride. As they are given added responsibility, it can also help with their confidence and self-esteem.
- Planning & Organization: Given a list of tasks, putting order and processes in place and having an attention to detail
- Good Habits: Repetition of tasks become automatic and part of our natural routine; This practice is more likely to carry over into adulthood when started young
- Cleanliness: Learning the importance of a clean environment for their comfort, health and welfare
- Time Management: Learning how to accomplish tasks in an efficient manner in order to participate in recreational activities
- Decision Making: Thinking through the requirements of a job and deciding what is required to accomplish it
- Empathy: Recognition & desire to help people in need
- Awareness: Understanding of the effort required to make things happen
Chores are also a great opportunity for kids to build on the skills they’ve been learning at home and in school. Whether it’s counting, or writing, or even compromising. The more practice they get with basic life skills, the stronger their foundation and preparation for the future.
List of Chores for Kids (By Age)
What, where and how your child can start to pitch in around the house will depend on their age, comprehension and your comfort level. Even the littlest ones can help around the house. It may start small, but complexity and responsibility can grow with them.
Be sure to keep an eye on younger kids to ensure their safety and to explain what they are doing. Keep directions simple and fun! Make up a song or a dance if needed. Songs help them learn without realizing it.
Kids need to understand that what chores are necessary and why we do them. While many younger kids are eager to help, it is certainly not the case for all of them. A chore chart might be good. Some people like a chore wheel that you spin. Tapping into what works best for your family will help in ensuring greater cooperation and maybe even a little fun!
You know your kid. What does it take to encourage their cooperation? Is your child at an age where gold stars make them smile? What about a goal? “When we’re done cleaning the house, we can go for a bike ride.”
We all know money is a great motivator. Older kids will want compensation for their contributions. There’s nothing wrong with that. Earning an allowance provides them with their own spending money. Consider this an opportunity to introduce economics and financial literacy… very important lessons every teenager should know.
2-3 Year Olds
- Help Put Toys/ Books Away
- Help Pick items up in the Living Space/ Bedroom
- Pull Weeds
- Pick Up Clothes
- Sort Socks
4 – 5 Year Olds
- Help Put Groceries Away
- Sort Laundry & Put Away
- Sort Recycling
- Set/ Clear the Table
- Put Silverware Away (if accessible)
- Water Plants
- Help Harvest Vegetables
- Picking out Their Clothes & Help Dress Themselves
6-7 Year Olds
- Pack School Backpack
- Dust Furniture
- Get the Mail/ Newspaper
- Feed/ Water the Pets
- Help Care for the Garden
- Help with Easy Meal Prep
8 -12 Year Olds
- Wash Dishes/ Empty the Dishwasher
- Do Laundry (Wash/ Fold/ Put Away)
- Vacuum/ Sweep (Floors & Outdoors)
- Clean the Bathrooms
- Clean the Kitchen
- Take out the Garbage/ Recycling
- Walk the Dog
- Rake the Grass
- Meal Planning
- Make a Meal (Breakfast & Lunch are Easy Entries)
- Take the Garbage/ Recycling to the Curb
- Help with Grocery Shopping
- Mow the Lawn
- Wash the Car
- Watch/ Care for Siblings
- Run Errands
The age-to-task assignment here isn’t hard and fast. Your child may be able to do something earlier or later than what is listed. Again, what your child can do, greatly depends on their ability.
Kids have a lot on their plates these days. Does that mean that they should get a pass when it comes to chores? Definitely not! Keep daily chores for kids on the light side (ex. dishes), leaving time consuming things to the weekend.
Clearly, the benefits of household chores for kids are many. It improves life skills and increases their confidence and self-esteem. It also lightens the load for mom, helping to improve her mental and emotional well-being.
Start young. The younger you start, the easier it will be to make doing their chores a habit. Involving the children in caring for the house shows them the effort needed to make things happen. They’ll see that there’s no magic involved. Mom & dad, or their adults put in the work to make sure everyone has what they need.
Admittedly, I approached this topic a little selfishly. Like many of you, I need a break. I’m tired. Waving my magic wand for my fairy godmother to make it all go away didn’t work for some reason. What’s a girl to do?
Deciding to elect my daughter to hep was a good move for both of us. She is so happy to help. Not only am I teaching her things to help her future, I also have the pleasure of watching her be proud of herself.
Related Article: 24 Easy Ways to Help New Moms
Did you do chores as a child? Do your kids do chores? If so, what are they responsible for? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.