Chores are a necessary part of maintaining any home. With kids home for the summer, the timing is perfect to get the whole family involved in these tasks. This eases the burden of parents who are spending more time entertaining children or shuttling them to activities while giving kids a solid routine and sense of accomplishment that they can incorporate into each day.
The Benefits of Chores for Kids
Children can start participating in chores as early as age 3. Creating this routine early can help turn chores into a habit that will follow children throughout their entire lives. Having help with chores is certainly beneficial for parents, but it’s great for kids too. Children who participate in chores learn about:
- Dealing with delayed gratification
- Persisting through challenging tasks
- Managing their time
- Developing organizational skills
- Balancing work and play
- Contributing to the family and home
Children involved in age-appropriate chores will hone essential skill sets that help them succeed in other areas of their life as well, such as school, relationships, and work. Though establishing chore routines can be frustrating at times, it’s worth it to work through the difficulties. Resist the urge to give in and do the chores yourself. In the long run, it will pay off when you give your children the chance to master these skills themselves.
Selecting Age-Appropriate Chores
It’s crucial for children to receive age-appropriate chore assignments. Chores that are too difficult lead to frustration and an unnecessary struggle. Consider these age-appropriate tasks:
- Toddlers: Getting dressed, putting clothing in the hamper, putting away toys, dusting
- Preschoolers: Putting away groceries, feeding pets, clearing the table after meals, watering plants, sorting laundry
- Elementary-age children: Wiping down tables and counters, putting laundry away, sweeping floors, loading and unloading the dishwasher, helping to prepare meals, packing lunches, using the washer and dryer for laundry
- Middle schoolers: Changing the sheets, cleaning the kitchen, performing yard work, washing windows and mirrors, cleaning out the fridge, washing the car.
- High schoolers: Assisting with errands, watching younger siblings, shopping for groceries, putting gas in the cars
Always evaluate the individual child’s aptitude and abilities when assigning chores. Some children may need extra time to master certain skills while others will be ready for more responsibility, even at a young age.
Making Chores Fun
Children’s resistance to chores typically stems from the fact that they’re boring. Make chore time more fun, particularly for younger children, by turning it into a game. Toddlers and preschoolers may enjoy playful games. Turn cleaning up into a race, see who can do the best boogie while cleaning, or create a scavenger hunt as children pick up the room. Young children also respond well to sticker charts. This gives them an immediate reward every time they complete a chore. These stickers may add up to special rewards like ice cream or a trip to the movies.
Older kids may enjoy a more complex system. Consider assigning a certain number of points or monetary value to each chore and allowing kids to choose their jobs for the day or week. Alternately, kids might pull jobs out of a hat. If the children are all old enough to perform the listed tasks, consider letting them trade if both parties agree. This can lead to some interesting deals as children build their negotiation skills.
Streamlining the Chore Routine
Establishing a new routine can be challenging, but chores will get easier with repetition. Always provide guidance the first few times a child does a chore. Demonstrate the task first. Never assume that the child will know exactly how the job is done, even if they’re older and the job seems simple. The parent’s demonstration sets the bar for thoroughness.
Set a designated time for chores so children can get into a habit of doing these tasks at a particular time each day. Develop a routine for completing larger tasks like cleaning the kitchen. This may include rinsing dishes, loading the dishwasher, wiping down the counter, rinsing out the sink, and sweeping the floors before the task is done.
Adding Incentives for Chores Well Done
Brainstorm with children to decide which incentives are the most enticing for a job well done. Providing rewards on a regular basis will make it much easier for children to keep up with their chore routine. Younger children may need a daily incentive, like pushing back bedtime 20 or 30 minutes. As children get older, they may work for additional screen time or other freedoms.
Older children may respond better to the anticipation of a big reward. Consider weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly payouts like:
- A visit to the pool or water park
- A trip to the zoo
- Ordering pizza
- Purchasing a new book or board game
- Earning an allowance
A well-organized chore schedule will keep things tidy from day to day, but even a well-maintained home can use a professional touch from time to time. If getting the house back in shape seems overwhelming, contact us to get a fresh start. This can help you get the home sparkling, making it easier for children to maintain going forward.