As a mom of three young children, I felt like I was always cleaning up after someone. There were always dishes to wash, laundry to be cleaned, and meals to cook.
After only a few years of motherhood, I began to feel like Cinderella.
When my kids were toddlers, we took various Mommy and Me classes. Every single one of these classes had a cleanup song. I witnessed my kids put away blocks and instruments. I realized, If they can clean up here, I can put them to work at home.
While I was excited at the prospect of free labor, there were other good reasons for my kids to start doing chores.
1. Doing chores create a sense of responsibility. My children will grow up knowing that they are an member of our household - with a important part to play. This gives them a sense of belonging.
2. Doing chores teaches stewardship. My children learn that they are managers rather then consumers of the things they are blessed with. It’s good for them to take care of their clothes, toys, and technology.
3. Doing chores helps a busy momma out. When my kids get older, they will be huge help to me--I have a lot to do. (And someday my children will be helpful to their spouse as well.)
I’ve found there are lots of age-appropriate things our kids can to to help out.
Things Kids Can Do at a Young Age (5 and under):
•Set the table. If they are not tall enough to reach the top of the table, they can help carry things to the table.
•Wipe the table after dinner.
•Vacuum. They can use the hand vacuum to clean up dust and dirt.
•Empty the dishwasher. When they are young, they can sort the flatware. As they get older, they can stack clean cups and plates on the counter to be put away.
•Sort laundry. Separate the colors, whites, towels, and sheets.
•Empty the waste paper baskets.
•Shake out the rugs. My kids, still to this day, fight over this one because it is by far one of the easiest dinnertime chores.
•Clean the windows.
•Make their beds. It doesn’t have to be perfect as long as it’s made. As they are older they will get better at it.
Things Kids Can Do as They Get Older (6 and up):
•Take out the garbage and recycling.
•Cook dinner. Each of my kids (6, 8, and 10 years old) are responsible to choose a meal and cook one night each week.
•Fold and put away laundry.
•Take care of the yard. Mow, weed flower beds, clean up leaves.
Need more ideas? Just think of the things you don’t like to do. That’s how I got started.
How I did it…
My kids were not interested in doing chores. They would rather have a friend over, watch TV, or play with toys. I also found it difficult to resist the urge to do a lot of things myself because I can do it better and faster.
I stuck with it though, knowing that the good habits we were creating were more important than satisfying our short-term desires.
The key was patience and consistency, as well as choosing a reward system that I was willing to keep up with.
When my children were young I used a chore chart based on a point system.
The kids received a star for every chore they did. For every 5 stars they received, they would pick a prize. In the treasure chest were erasers, silly bands, stickers, etc. I also included essentials, such as crayons, socks, and barrettes in the offerings.
*As they got older I found that money was a great motivator.
When I was working with my kids to develop the habit of cleaning their room, I came across a great idea in the book Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement.
At the beginning of the month, each child received a jar of 31 quarters, one for each day of the month. Every day they were responsible to make their bed and clean their room before they went to school. I took a quarter away if I found that their bed wasn’t made or their room was not tidy. To my surprise, this was a far better motivator than giving them a quarter for each chore they completed.
We did that for two months, until good habits were created and the incentive was not longer necessary. However, we still used this method when introducing new responsibilities.
Your children are never too young or too old for you to work with them and guide then through household chores. As they grow, it will be easier for them to take on new responsibilities.
I promise you it will be one the most rewarding things you do!
*There are chores that my kids are responsible to do around the house just because they are part of the family and for which they do not get paid. Specifically they must keep their bedrooms clean, cook meals, and pitch in at dinnertime. There is additional work they can do to earn money.
This post is part of the 31 Days series called Kids & Money. During the month of October Kimberly is sharing with her readers about what she does to teach her little ones about biblical money management.
With a background as an interior designer Kimberly Amici has is unique in her ability to be both creative and practical. Now a stay-at-home mom she still enjoys exercising her creative muscles. After God, her very active family is her top priority. Kimberly seeks to live a life that is spirit led with her husband Carl and their three young children in the NYC suburbs. She blogs about her journey to discover the sweet spot of God’s success for everyday life at Living in the Sweet Spot.