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Thread: Kids helping with household work

  1. #1
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    Default Kids helping with household work

    What type household tasks do your kids do? Do you have a daily schedule? How do you organize it?

    I only have two chores that I feel the kids can do independently at their age and truly contribute to the household - as in do some work by themselves that DH or I do not have to do. (E.g. If they help with cooking and it takes twice as long to cook a meal, I do not consider that a chore, it is an activity, something we do together and they are learning.) I have them do the laundry (put in washer, move to dryer, unload dryer - I fold and put it away) and put silverware up from the dishwasher. The thing is that I do not have a specific schedule when we do this and I know I would meet with less resistance if we had a regular chore time each day rather than as needed. Are there other tasks than an almost 5 yo and almost 3 yo could be doing?
    Last edited by impatient; 04-24-2013 at 02:16 PM.

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    My almost 5 year old still does very little except put his dishes in the dishwasher and put his clothes in the hamper. I will sometimes give him a glass cloth to clean the windows, but I usually have to go back over them later. He can put his toys and clothes away, and I get him to help me match socks when I fold laundry. I also get him to get things out of the fridge or pantry when I'm cooking or making lunch, etc. Now my 6 year olds do considerably more. They clean their rooms although they require a lot of supervision, make their beds, help load the dishwasher, dust furniture, and pick up trash in the yard. They also have started fixing themselves meals and snacks. They can make a sandwich for lunch and they've recently learned to make toast and bagels in the toaster oven. My 8 (almost 9) year old does all those things but he also has the job of checking on the chickens every afternoon to make sure they have food and water and are comfortable and the coop hasn't been broken into by anything. The chickens are still very young so not able to run free yet due to predators. He also is learning to vacuum, unloads and loads the dishwasher, and he is learning to heat things up on the stove (soup, noodles, etc.) There are no chores that are off limits to the other kids who are 11 and up. They do everything. We do chores every afternoon during the week and every Saturday morning. They aren't always responsible for the same chores with the exception of everyone has to clean their rooms and Vada has to clean the half bath while Brynna and Tea are responsible for the upstairs bath. Everything else gets rotated. I often have the younger kids help the older kids or me so they can learn. I tried a chore chart years ago, but it was a headache for me to keep up with. I just prefer to give each child their assignment when they get home after they've had a snack and done homework. Usually everybody only has one thing to do. On the weekends if I'm doing a full out cleaning say if I have company coming or something, I make a list of everything that needs to get done and everybody can choose and it gets marked off the list when it is completed.

    Edited to add that I am a bit OCD about some things. I still do a majority of the housework. I am usually the one who folds clothes, sweeps and mops, vacuums the living areas, and cleans the bathroom that guests use. I am the only one who really cleans the kitchen. We also have hardwood floors now and I don't trust the kids with cleaning them. Brynna likes to cut the grass so I often let her do that. Usually, it works out that I clean the majority of the downstairs and the kids clean the majority of the upstairs although if I have company coming I help them or it isn't done to my standards. My kids think I'm mean for making them do so much, but growing up I did a majority of the housework. On Saturdays when I was home which was at least every other weekend I cleaned the entire house including my bedroom, both bathrooms, the living room, dining room and kitchen. I did all the dusting, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, etc. If I missed a spot while mopping I had to remop all the floors. If I left a stray hair in the bathtub, I had to re-scrub the tubs in both bathrooms. I did the dishes by hand every single night from the time I was about 8 until I was 17 when we got an electric dishwasher. Doing dishes included clearing the table, putting up food, cleaning out the sink, wiping down the counters and sweeping the floor. My kids almost never clean up after dinner. Dh and I do it most of the time. At the most they are asked to put their dishes in the dishwasher. I show my kids when they miss something during their chores and I give them a chance to rectify it, but if they are struggling, I always help them or show them how. My mom thinks I'm a pushover, but I would never force them to do something over and over again, because it always made me feel so horrible as a kid and is probably why I am such a neat freak.
    Last edited by MaryJane; 04-24-2013 at 02:57 PM.
    Mary Jane, doula and mom of Vada, Brynna, Tea, Moira, Kyan, Ambria, Aslan, and Anakin.
    “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss

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    I'll be watching this for ideas. Nolan is only two, so basically he just helps pick up his toys when he is done playing with them. That and he loves helping me put clothes in and take cloths out of the dryer

    Things are a little crazy, but I'm loving every minute of it My Blog


  4. #4

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    Chris is responsible for cleaning his room and feeding and watering the dog. He's helped empty the dishwasher a few times but it's not a regular thing. If he spills something, he's expected to clean it up and make sure it's all cleaned and no sticky residue is left. We don't have a chart or anything, we just remind him when it needs doing and he does it.
    Candice, 28, STC 7+ years


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    Mary Jane, thank you for all the details. It really helps getting a perspective on what is reasonable to expect. I do not want to be a slave driver but I also want the kids to know that everyone has to pitch in for the household to run smoothly. Both kids love to clean the glass doors but it is one of those things they are doing for learning. I have to fix it later. Which is just fine with me, they have to learn somewhere.

    It has been on my mind recently because of my niece. She is 22, lives with her fiancé with my brother and SIL. They do not contribute much financially because they do not have much but my SIL does all laundry, cooking, cleaning for everyone. It really bothers me that my niece has no respect for her mom and let's her do all that work. Given, my brother and SIL are not without fault for enabling this but I really really really do not want my kids ever treat us or their future in-laws that way.

  6. #6
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    3andMe is offline Every day is a gift. It's just... does it have to be a pair of socks? Hopelessly Devoted
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    Here is a good article about kid chores that I read a long time ago, and I just looked at it briefly while trying to find a list of age-appropriate chores for kids. It's interesting, because my mom was just telling me the other day how much my children contribute to my general household tidiness, by cleaning up their toys and clearing up their own plates and cups from the table, and by putting their shoes and bags away when we come in the house. My soon-to-be 3-year-old wipes down the table when I ask him to, and wipes glass and surfaces he can reach. My 5-year-olds clean the bathroom independently. They don't put away dishes often because they can't reach things well, but they all have their own rakes and will help me weed and clean up leaves. I have been having them pick up their toys since they were about 18 months old. They help put away their own laundry but aren't so great about folding it yet.

    I don't have a daily cleaning routine, and I often have to remind them that they need to put their shoes away when they come in or clear their plates from the table when they're done eating, but if I'm cleaning and ask who wants to clean the bathroom, I have 3 eager volunteers. I want to establish a habit for them, so that it is just second nature for them to put those things away. Sometimes if they're a little reluctant to pitch in with general cleaning, I'll remind them that we all work together as a family and that the sooner we get it done, the sooner we can go out together and do something more fun. Picking up is easier to do if not too many things are out at the same time, and if we make games out of them.

    My mom said she never had me or my sister help with housework or chores because she did a lot when she was growing up and it was no fun. She didn't like it, and decided she wouldn't inflict it on us. I don't think that she did a huge amount of housework anyway, but in retrospect I'm sad that we never helped her because she had enough to do and we could have made it easier for her. My DH also remembers a lot of chores from his childhood and it is an unpleasant memory. For now, the children find it fun for the most part.


  7. #7

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    I think there has to be balance. I think it's good for children to do household chores and to clean up after themselves, but I think that as parents we also have to remember that they are still kids. They forget things. They don't always do things the right way. I grew up on a farm. My summers consisted of waking up at 5:30 and working in the garden until around 9am or so then coming home to shell, shuck and peel and put away produce. We had to bottlefeed calves, much stalls, feed the goats and horses, etc. I say we, but really it was just me. My younger sister and brother didn't have much responsibility. They were much younger than me. Because working with livestock can be dangerous, my stepdad had no patience for mistakes and he would occasionally chew me or mom out if we messed up. It never bothered me much, but my sister was very sensitive and she would cry and whine and give up. So I was the go to girl for most of the farm stuff. I want my kids to learn to run a household and raise animals and grow their own food, but I want them to enjoy it and not be overwhelmed by it. My kids still struggle with putting their bags away in the afternoon and with throwing away trash which is my number one issue with them. I need to be better about enforcing that. And my childhood wasn't awful. I enjoyed a lot of it. I loved working with the animals and being trusted with feeding the horses. I attended my first birth when I was 15 when I had to help a goat whose baby was stuck. I learned how to give injections for worming and vaccinations and do first aid. I learned how to put up food for the winter and how to put up a fence. We have our own land now, and I am teaching my dh who was a city kid how to do these things. Most of the time it was more fun than work. My dh's family don't do much housework, and I had to unslobify my dh after we married.
    Mary Jane, doula and mom of Vada, Brynna, Tea, Moira, Kyan, Ambria, Aslan, and Anakin.
    “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss

  8. #8

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    I had a chore chart for the kids but they grew really bored of doing the same thing every day and started to complain about it daily and that just added such negativity to our household so I changed it up. Now they earn a dollar a day if they help me out when I need it. They must do what I ask in a timely fashion and it could be setting the table, folding the laundry, playing with Sawyer so I can take a shower, sweeping, cleaning the kitchen table, organizing the area if front of the door, feeding the cats, picking up the playroom, the list goes on. I just felt like the chore chart was giving the impression that they were helping but did I really NEED Kai to sweep his room every day? No. But sometimes I do need him to told the kitchen towels and he likes to do it. Savana is awesome at taking care of Sawyer for me and it's truly more helpful than her making her bed every day, you know? It is very rare that, using this method, that I have to ask them twice to do anything.

    The second part of it, my paying them, is not something I ever imagined I would do. It has been a great benefit to us in many ways. One being that when they ask me for a certain toy, or art supplies, or whatever, i can encourage them to save their allowance and in turn they have become more careful about the things they ask for because they have to decide if it's something they truly want. Also, it has shown a generosity in them that I had not seen before as they often want to buy things for each other and for dbf and I. They even offered up their money to their grandma when she talked about the price of her dental work! Lastly, I justify it by the fact that we often have other children in our house so they inevitably end up cleaning up after other kids and since this is my business, if they help me, I share my earnings! So it's opened up the doors to whole discussion on business profit/loss and budgeting. Definitely not the traditional way of dividing up chores but it's working well for us.

  9. #9
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    Definitely stalking this thread. Mine are 5 1/2 and 3 1/2 and right now they are not very good at helping around the house. We often have to ask them a million time to clean up or put things their toys away and I end up doing it all. My 3 year old is good at making a huge mess and not so good at cleaning it up. With summer coming I want to have some sort of chores that they have to do daily so that they can earn an allowance. Off to read the article.
    Growing fast... DD1 (6) & DD2 (4)
    Forever loved, forever missed... Twin Girls with us for 19w3d 6/12/06

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    They don't do too much but they are both expected to:
    put their clothes in the hamper
    clean up toys
    take plates to the counter
    put shoes in the bench and hang their coats on the chair in the living room
    clean up something they spilled

    Occasionally one will help me dust, fold clothes, or vacuum but usually it slows down the whole process and I just want to get it done.
    Thing 1 (8), Thing 2 (5), Thing 3 (2)

  11. #11

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    I have not read all the responses. DS1 (4) has to put his shoes away when he comes home, put his dirty clothes in the hamper, set the table, put his clothes away, clean up his toys, and clean up any mess he may make. We usually do a lot together. He doesnt seem to mind so far. We talk a lot about helping each other do things so it will get done faster. So, I ask for his help for things like setting the table, and then I help him when it comes time to clean his toys. DS2 (2) puts his dirty clothes away, his shoes away, helps to clean any mess he makes, and tries to help set the table. He needs reminders and doesn't always get it right, but he really wants to help and do things that me and DS1 do. With regular chores, like cleaning, cooking, and laundry, I sometimes ask if they want to help, and we make it fun, but other times I just do it myself.

  12. #12

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    My 5 and 7 year olds do ok at chores. They can fold towels, vacuum, clean their bathroom, put things away, wipe tables, wash windows, take the rolling trash can to the road (and bring back), help unload the dish washer, scrub tougher spits on the floor before DH or I mop, and other odds and ends. My 3 year old picks up toys, wipes tables, folds wash cloths and small towels, and cleans windows at her level.
    To help with chores, I combined ideas from a few places. I made laminated checklists for different areas of the house; living room, dining room/hall, kitchen (including eat in area), bedrooms, and their bathroom. Each is broken down with little clip art pics since DS can't read (pick up toys, clean off table, wipe table, sweep, etc). It helps a lot! Their rooms are "must do regardless rooms" and they don't earn anything for them. For the other things, each child has a card that has 1-10 on it. A chore is worth 1 "punch". A card with 10 punches is worth $5. I need to come up with alternatives to money like 2 cards = special activity. The punch cards have been a huge hit. The price may seem high but we have been so busy, we haven't been getting them to regularly do things lately so a card may take 2-3 weeks to fill since a chore checklist is just 1 punch. I hate taking the trash out so its an easy punch for them, lol. If I'm desperate I start offering a punch per large basket of towels or whatever too. DD2's card rarely was used so I gave her a punch for waking up dry every morning for a bit. They love earning punches!

  13. #13

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    My daughter, is 2, and wants to do every.thing.!! Sh asked me today if sh could push the lawn mower she really did though!!! If you want her to do anything, just put the word "help" in a sentence and she will!! We have her "help" daddy pick up the leave (aka- yard work). She "helps" me do the laundry. She is completely OCD (just like me) about everything so after she uses something she has to put it right back....which is OK with me.

    I guess for me, I don't have her do strict chores, but I am putting the idea in her head without her knowing it.

  14. #14

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    My just turned 3 year old can do nothing (well, no chrores) by herself, but does pretty much everything that I do when she's awake, which is pretty much everything in the house. I find ways for her to either do or help with EVERY chore. For example, today we swept, and she had her own broom, and swept right behind me. Then she held the dust pan for me as I swept it up.

    The only chore that is "hers" is to feed the cat every night, and she still needs a little help getting the lid to the cat food container on and off, but otherwise, she can do that herself.

    Of course, she does clean up her own toys and clear off her own plates and such after dinner. She knows to take her shoes off in the house and put them on the shoe rack. She also knows she has to clean up every mess she makes.



  15. #15

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    Help? What help? My 4 yr old doesn't even help clean up her own toys!! Seriously, I just bought her a Responsibility Chart from Melissa & Doug because I needed some incentive for her to do this stuff herself. She likes the idea of being "in charge" of something, so that how we've been wording it- she's in charge of setting the table, getting ready for bed, picking up toys, brushing her teeth, showing respect, making her bed, and helping with household chores (all with help, but we have to start somewhere).

  16. #16

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    DD will surprise me sometimes and be very helpful and good about cleanup. For example, tonight she was eating a little bowl of ice cream at her small table in the living room, and a little bit spilled onto the floor. She told me about it, and without any prompting at all, went into the kitchen, got a sponge, and came back and cleaned it up. On the other hand, DD will leave her toys all over the place, and it never occurs to her to pick them up. Seriously, she'll carry a toy into the bathroom with her, put it down in there and just leave it there. I told her that the toy didn't belong in the bathroom, and her response: "Yes it does!"

    She will clear her dishes from the table and bring it to the sink when she finishes her food. If there's food on her plate, she just leaves it there on the table, because she might want to come back and eat some of it later. She won't put her clothes away without prompting, but will sometimes put the dirty ones in the laundry basket on her own. When she gets up in the morning, she'll take off her PJ's and put her used pull-up in the "diaper trash." If I'm sweeping/vacuuming/whatever, she wants to help. She wants to help whenever I do laundry. I was doing some yard work earlier today, and she actually was quite helpful with that (meaning that not only did she try to help, but her help was actually effective ).


  17. #17

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    I probably appear crazy, but I expect a good amount from my girls (Talon eventually as well). I have things broken into: expected chores, and earning money jobs.
    My 6 year old is expected to:
    Make her bed daily, put dirty clothes away, clean her portion of the table after meals, and help clean her room nightly.
    Weekly she folds her laundry and puts it away (with my help, Im right there the entire time takes about 15/20 mins once a week), she also empties the bathroom garbage cans and pulls and brings dirty sheets to the washer.
    For $ she can wash windows, make my bed, clean the bathroom sink/counter, sweep the kitchen floor or vacuum the carpet. She can also do light babysitting (while Im home, but working on something else... basically her job would be to keep her little brother entertained and busy/safe while Im cooking dinner or bringing in the groceries).

    My 3 year old also makes her bed daily, cleans her plates from the table, helps clean the kids bedroom every night.
    Weekly she also helps with her part of the laundry (she is capable of folding towels and pants) she also helps most nights put the clean dishes away from the dishwasher (this one isn't super enforced, but she usually asks to help do it)
    For $ she can do or try to do most of what her sister can do, but I usually have her help pick up the baby's toys, and feed/water the dog.

    They really don't complain, They have to choice to earn money or not, so some weeks they are working hard, and then there might be weeks where they only do what they are expected to do. Im more gentle then it seems also, I only expect them to do their best and I understand that it will be less then perfect, but to me the import issue is that they feel that their contribution matters to the success of our family.
    Katie~
    DD1 (7) DD2 (4) DS1 (22 months) Baby #4 EDD 7/13/14

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3andMe View Post
    Here is a good article about kid chores that I read a long time ago, and I just looked at it briefly while trying to find a list of age-appropriate chores for kids. It's interesting, because my mom was just telling me the other day how much my children contribute to my general household tidiness, by cleaning up their toys and clearing up their own plates and cups from the table, and by putting their shoes and bags away when we come in the house. My soon-to-be 3-year-old wipes down the table when I ask him to, and wipes glass and surfaces he can reach. My 5-year-olds clean the bathroom independently. They don't put away dishes often because they can't reach things well, but they all have their own rakes and will help me weed and clean up leaves. I have been having them pick up their toys since they were about 18 months old. They help put away their own laundry but aren't so great about folding it yet.

    I don't have a daily cleaning routine, and I often have to remind them that they need to put their shoes away when they come in or clear their plates from the table when they're done eating, but if I'm cleaning and ask who wants to clean the bathroom, I have 3 eager volunteers. I want to establish a habit for them, so that it is just second nature for them to put those things away. Sometimes if they're a little reluctant to pitch in with general cleaning, I'll remind them that we all work together as a family and that the sooner we get it done, the sooner we can go out together and do something more fun. Picking up is easier to do if not too many things are out at the same time, and if we make games out of them.

    My mom said she never had me or my sister help with housework or chores because she did a lot when she was growing up and it was no fun. She didn't like it, and decided she wouldn't inflict it on us. I don't think that she did a huge amount of housework anyway, but in retrospect I'm sad that we never helped her because she had enough to do and we could have made it easier for her. My DH also remembers a lot of chores from his childhood and it is an unpleasant memory. For now, the children find it fun for the most part.
    L I loved that article, thank you for posting! Nolan helps now, but I admit to rushing the task at time and I need to work on that.

    Things are a little crazy, but I'm loving every minute of it My Blog


  19. #19
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    Right now Maddi sets the table, clears her breakfast dishes (not sure why we don't have her doing dinner as well...) and is expected to pick up after herself. Ali needs to pick up her toys and has helped with unloading the dishwasher. I feel I should bump up their job responsibility...maybe this summer when school is out.

    ~ Cassie, mama to Madison (8), Ali (4) & Wesley (new dude!)


  20. #20

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    Alice helps with little things, like throwing things in the trash (she LOVES to do that), putting her toys away, putting the dryer balls in the dryer when I'm changing over the laundry and "vacuuming" with her toy vacuum when I'm vacuuming. She also tries to mimic me wiping the table and helped me pick up dead branches in our backyard ("I do it, Mommy!"). I tried to get her to dry her dishes, but she didn't get the concept yet.
    Last edited by Aelith; 04-26-2013 at 07:42 AM.

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  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aelith View Post
    Alice helps with little things, like throwing things in the trash (she LOVES to do that), putting her toys away, putting the dryer ball in the dryer when I'm changing over the laundry and "vacuuming" with her toy vacuum when I'm vacuuming. She also tries to mimic me wiping the table and helped me pick up dead branches in our backyard ("I do it, Mommy!"). I tried to get her to dry her dishes, but she didn't get the concept yet.
    Savana used to love love love throwing things away! Like, she was obsessed with it! We'd laugh about finding random toys and kitchen tools in the garbage. It was all fun and games until dbf had a wad of hundreds of dollars and catch that he collected from an event night that he still needed to pay the bar out for. It was LOST. We ended up wondering if Savana had thrown it away but had already taken it to the dumpster so we had to dig our bag and it was really in there!!!!

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bridget View Post
    Savana used to love love love throwing things away! Like, she was obsessed with it! We'd laugh about finding random toys and kitchen tools in the garbage. It was all fun and games until dbf had a wad of hundreds of dollars and catch that he collected from an event night that he still needed to pay the bar out for. It was LOST. We ended up wondering if Savana had thrown it away but had already taken it to the dumpster so we had to dig our bag and it was really in there!!!!
    Oh my! Thank goodness it was found. We've found toys and a DVD so far.

    2/09 6/09 4/14 9/14

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bridget View Post
    Savana used to love love love throwing things away! Like, she was obsessed with it! We'd laugh about finding random toys and kitchen tools in the garbage. It was all fun and games until dbf had a wad of hundreds of dollars and catch that he collected from an event night that he still needed to pay the bar out for. It was LOST. We ended up wondering if Savana had thrown it away but had already taken it to the dumpster so we had to dig our bag and it was really in there!!!!
    Oh no! Glad you found it.

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