In a recent weekly PWK newsletter I asked readers about what household tasks they have their children do. I asked the question as I was wondering whether or not I was asking too much of my kids:
I firmly believe that kids need to contribute to the upkeep of the house and they need to take responsibility for their own belongings. As a parent though, it sometimes it feels harder to ensure this happens rather than just doing it ourselves.
But completing household tasks helps create capable members of the family who understand the need to work together to keep everything rolling along okay, so I know it is worth the effort in the long run.
There are times though when I wonder am I asking too much?
This is the current way we work out who does what in our house. You can read more about it in this post – Family contribution schedule.
Kids and household tasks – what other families do
Thanks so much to the families who shared what they are doing at their house. I have also included some comments on previous posts on this topic where families have shared what they do.
2 year old
We just have one 2 year old son. He helps out by picking up his toys and books (we do it together), cleaning up any mess he spills on the floor during meal time, he sometimes collects the mail (if we remember) and his main job which he loves to do is collect the dishwasher tablet from the box, put it in the dishwasher and press start. I also get him to press the buttons on the washing machine if he’s nearby.
He helps me to set the table if he is nearby too (most often he is outside playing at this time). He used to help us hang the laundry out but I think this one has fallen away from his attention, and mine to be honest! He also used to love unloading the cutlery from the dishwasher but he refuses to do it now. I’ve just let it go – I’m not really sure how to put consequences on that one, or if I want to at this age.
5 year old morning tasks
From Anne – my 5 year old Chloe has her jobs in the morning:
- Go to the toilet
- Have her breakfast
- Brushes her teeth
- Makes her bed
- Get changed for kindy
- Brushes her hair
I’m trying to make her more independent and ready for school next year. Chloe’s loves having her jobs done in the morning!!
I’m trying to be more patient and letting her do it herself instead of me doing it for her when we are in a hurry
7 year old specific and ad hoc tasks
I divide my 7 year old’s (only child) jobs into those he HAS to do and those he is to help with when asked.
This gives him specific jobs that he is responsible for and me the opportunity to give him more when I think he has more capacity, has not performed well in other areas (and so needs to give a bit more) or if I am just a bit busier.
1. responsible for his own room (dirty clothes in the basket, dressing gown hung up, shoes in the cupboard and clear desk etc.).
2. taking out the recycling from the kitchen to the outside bin (before it overflows).
1. helps me to unpack the dishwasher
2. helps me to peg washing out and to bring it back in.
Family of four from 18 months to 8
The 8 and 6 year old are responsible for their before school routine – making beds, getting dressed, brushing teeth and hair, checking bags, partially making their lunches etc and after school – lunch box and drink bottle to kitchen, notes to mum, homework (with help as required which is all the time right now learning reading), packing bag for the morning.
I like to let them wind down as much as possible after school because they’ve been hard at it all day and I know they need a break. The evening routine involves, though not particularly formally, showering and pj’s on, helping with the tidy-up of toys and mess, clearing the table etc.
They also have to put their own dishes in the kitchen and push in chairs etc. I have them help me with the 2 little ones (nearly 3 and 18 months) as needed and as appropriate. As we work to a 7.30 bedtime, there isn’t much time after dinner and all the rest of the after school stuff for huge amounts of extra chores but on the weekends they are expected to tidy their rooms, and help out where needed.
I also have them put their own dirty clothes either in the laundry basket or to take them (and the basket) to the laundry for washing. They have to put their wearable clothes away each night too. There are lots of little routines during the day I am trying to get them to do automatically (slow process…)
The little ones are just expected to try and help tidy up their messes as they make them (not so much the 18 month old, but he does love to help put things in buckets so we’re on the right track!), so they have to put their shoes away, pick up the duplo and other toys and so on.
Just recently I wanted the older kids to get a bit of a picture about how some kids don’t get anything at Christmas time because they aren’t as lucky as we are. I have offered them a chance to earn some money (we don’t do pocket money for normal daily helping) by doing chores that they wouldn’t normally do – learning how to use the washing machine, feeding and watering the chickens, doing any extra work without being asked and so on. They can spend the money they earn on a gift for a child less-fortunate.
It’s not always easy, and there are plenty of proddings in the right direction, but they are young and need help to get and stay on track. I will talk to the older ones and explain why they have to do certain things and why we have certain rules. I also help them to understand my job is to grow them up to be adults and that they need to learn (at an appropriate rate) how to live and look after themselves and their things. Putting into that kind of perspective seems to help a bit.
16 months old and 7 year old with autism
I start early! My 16 month old can take her bowl or cup to the sink, get up on her tippy toes and push it in. My 7yo with autism also does his share helping with the shopping, helping with putting things away & cleaning up after himself.
My goal is that he will have a good range of self care and domestic task skills completely down before he leaves school, including cooking & doing his own laundry.
12 and 8 year olds
My 12 year old and 8 year old boys have to fold and put away their own clothes. They have done this since they were about five years old (with help and lots of crying, for a while, but now they just get on with it).
I try to set up daily tasks and the boys will do them when asked but I often let it slide (too often) because of after school activities or a busy day (I need to be more consistent).
Examples of these tasks include cleaning the bathroom sink and mirror, taking out the compost, rubbish and recycling, cleaning some kitchen cupboards, vacuuming a rug.
When I’m washing the sheets they have to remove all the pillowcases and sheets off their bed for me, and then help me make the bed again.
I have three kids, 7, 4 & almost 2. My almost 2 doesn’t do anything as yet, but my two older children both have a chore chart and a job chart. They get pocket money for their jobs but not for chores. Chores are things that are life skills that are expected of them and as such have to be done without question.
The Chore List (We actually call it Our Morning Routine) reads wash face, brush hair, have breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, make bed.
Our afternoon routine reads unpack school bag, change out of uniform, clean shoes, have afternoon tea, do homework.
The 7 year olds JOBS are to do the following when necessary or when asked: Unpack the Dishwasher, Take the Washing of the Line, Peel the Vegetables, take rubbish out.
The 4 year olds job is to take the recycling out every day.
Both kids also clear the table and put their own washing away after I have folded it. As far as I’m concerned it’s a team effort and the quicker we get everything done the more free time I have to spend time playing with them!
6 and 8 year old
Dress, teeth, hair, morning math activity(kumon); make bed;feed dog;unpack dishwasher;breakfast; change Date( 6 year old because it helps her with numbers and days of week)
Unpack bag lunch boxes on bench; change and hang up uniform; water for dog and play with him he likes the ball thrown) after school activity (gymnastics or swimming or kumon);
Set table; feed dog ; reader;violin; religion studies; eat dinner; bath; story time (in bed at 7.30pm).
3 school age
All three need to unpack their bags and put their bags away, notes on the counter. They then unpack their lunch bags, putting scraps in the chicken box and tupperware in the sink. There is 20 minutes of homework time 3 x a week (10 minutes of this can be on Mathletics or spelling city). Then they are free to play.
So what about you? What do you get your kids to do around the house?