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).
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?