With a family of five, there is a lot to be done in and around the house! Thankfully I have three eager and able sets of little hands that like to jump in and help out! But each one is a different age, and they each have different strengths. So I take that into consideration before asking for their involvement or assigning any tasks. Continue reading for parenting tips and for a free printable chore chart broken down by age.
This article is written by Karissa Tunis
For more on this topic, check out the full Child Behavior collection
The Benefits of Chores
Not only is having a little extra help around the house nice, but it is also an important element of parenting. Teaching our children to be responsible, and allowing them to become more independent, will help them later on in life. It also makes them more appreciative for the work that you, or even others, do for them.
And once they help clean up their playroom a few times (ok, maybe several dozen times), they will hopefully become more conscientious about cleaning up when they are done. They will be more aware of the time that goes into prepping food and cooking dinner – and hopefully will finish their plate without complaint. They will try harder to keep the family room tidy, not throw clothes in the laundry that aren’t really dirty, and avoid turning the bathroom into a total disaster while getting ready for school.
It may take a lot of time, and repeat of these chores, but eventually it will click. Eventually they will try to save you (and themselves) time and energy from cleaning up their messes.
And remember, eventually your house will be spotless. And eventually you will not have little ones running through your halls anymore, (I am dreading that day!). So enjoy this phase, and enjoy the journey of teaching your children how to grow into mature human beings that show respect and appreciation, even for the chore chart!
What to Know Before Assigning Chores & Creating Your Own Chore Chart
Before you get started, it is important to remember that I am not suggesting chores as a punishment. I actually very much discourage that, unless appropriate (I get into this below). Instead chores should be used as a valuable contribution to your family household, and as an educational tool. In our household both my husband and I work. We also have three children, and four pets.
If every task was left to only me, it would not all get done; or I would be pulling all-nighters. I believe that once children are old enough, it is important that they contribute in some way (even if it is just very small). I also believe in teaching them responsibility, and respect for people and personal property. And if done correctly, chores can help them learn these valuable life lessons, and help me out just a bit. You can even turn chores, or tasks around the house, info more of a fun bonding time, and less of just another “to-do” item.
Why Not to Use Chores as Punishment
Growing up my parents used “weeding the flowerbeds” as a weekly, or sometimes even daily, chore. We lived on a large property in the country, and my mother had flowerbeds everywhere. So my sisters and I spent a lot of time outside pulling weeds.
But this was also used as our punishment. No matter what we got in trouble for, we were sent outside to weed. We would sometimes weed for hours, and it was exhausting. To say we despised weeds and flowerbeds is an understatement! Especially since we spent so much of our childhood doing this one task, over and over agin.
So guess what I think of weeding now? I hate it. I hate it because it is associated with so many bad memories and feelings. In my opinion looking back, this was not teaching me responsibility in an appropriate way. It was ruining something for me.
Thankfully I married a wonderful man that actually enjoys taking care of our flowerbeds. He does the weeding, and I take on many of the tasks inside the house. For us it works out very well!
Chores Should Instead Teach Responsibility
The weeding experience has definitely affected the way that I parent. Now as an adult and mother, I will only use a “chore” as a punishment when it fits the wrong. Notice that I used quotations around the word. That is because I believe a chore is something that is done daily or weekly, like feeding the dog, taking out the trash, etc. A punishment is more of a one time deal.
An example of this would be the playroom. If one of my kids dumps out a bunch of bins in the playroom – I will ask him to clean it up, and ask something else of his siblings. Or if my daughter leaves her hair accessories all over the bathroom – I’ll ask her to clean up the bathroom, and give her brothers a different task. It doesn’t need to necessarily be looked at as a punishment, but it is taking responsibility for the mess that they created.
But the next time we do an over-all cleaning, I’ll ask all three kids to help me tackle the playroom and bathroom.
Make Chores Fun
Over the summer, or on slow weekends, my favorite time to do chores, and work off of our chore chart, is all together – like a Saturday morning. We crank up some music, each person has their task and/or room, and we work together. We chat, we laugh, we sing, we dance, and we all have fun working and bonding together. And before you know it, the house is clean and we can spend the afternoon going to the pool.
In this scenario, where we do a lot at once, I like to reward my kids with something fun afterwards. And if we are cleaning for a few hours, we break it up. Tackle the bedrooms, then run outside for 30 min. We hit the bathrooms, then wash our hands and grab a snack. Then we finish by cleaning the family room and kitchen, and head out for something fun!
Note – Smaller increments work really well! Kids are still kids, and they do better with breaks.
Another advantage to knocking out the majority of your chores in one day – you can usually take it easy for the next few days following, as long as you maintain the clean.
Now my kids are at the busy age of sports and activities throughout the week. So depending on our schedules, we might not have a day of family cleaning time. Instead, we do a little each day. One kid might help me on Mondays while the others are at soccer practice. Another might help me on Tuesday while his brother is at football, and so on. But we still make it fun! With music, snacks, and laughing whenever we can.
Why Make Chores Fun?
The purpose of the chore chart is to keep your home tidy, and in order, for everyone to enjoy. But also, you are teaching your children responsibility that will carry over into other aspects later on in life. If I make chores unpleasant now, they will hate vacuuming when they get older. But if I can make it fun, it may never be there favorite thing to do on a Thursday night, but hopefully they wont resent it. Because the last thing I want to do is have them feel about toilets like I do with weeds!
I hope someday when they are each living on their own, that it will be in a space that is reasonably tidy with clean toilets 😉
Chore Chart By Age
Below is a breakdown of possible chores broken down by age. Some children might be ready for added responsibility earlier, and some may not be able to handle specific tasks until they are older, more mature, and better coordinated / developed. Consider your child specifically and where they are at in their child development. Please do not go solely by what is listed below – but instead use it as a guide. Then tweak it to what works best for you, your children, and your family as a whole.
Happy Housework 🙂
For more on this topic, check out the full Child Behavior collection