As mothers, we need to train our children to help out and not be afraid of a little work. This can be done but you must start when they are young. If you wait until they are older than it will be like pulling teeth. They must grow up with this idea and training. Don’t be afraid that “they need to be kids”. You’re not taking anything away from their childhood. As a matter of fact, if you don’t start them with chores when they are younger you are actually taking away from their adulthood and setting them up for future failure as adults. No parent wants this.
Something to keep in mind with younger children is that you can’t expect perfection. You can, however, expect them to do the best of their ability. Just because your son/daughter is 5 doesn’t mean that they can’t do a ‘good’ job. If I know they can do better I make them do it over, and over, and over, if necessary. Don’t be afraid of this. You are training your child to be a success when they grow up. This is extremely important for their mental development, as a child, and as an adult.
The following list of chores I’m sharing can be started when your son/daughter is quite young. I was thinking of what I have my 5-year-old do when I was making this list but, really, some of these items I started when he was younger than this.
And, don’t forget to make it fun! Little kids want to have fun! Our modern society makes chores out to be gruesome, horrible pastimes. But, why is this? Yes, some stuff isn’t what I’d choose to do if given 30 minutes to myself but we can still enjoy ourselves while doing it! They learn from our example. Set a good one and don’t complain the next time you unload the dishwasher or change a diaper! 🙂
Some chore ideas include:
- Clearing the table of dishes.
- Carrying in firewood/keeping the firebox full
- Wipe down the garbage can (daily in a big family isn’t too often!!)
- Spot mopping the floors – we do this after every meal
- Make their beds – again, we aren’t looking for perfection, just good intentions!
- Wiping down baseboards
- Emptying the bathroom garbage every morning and putting in a new bag
- Light dusting – bookshelves, baseboards, window sills, etc.
- Picking up their toys – if they can make the mess then they can definitely clean it up!
- Wiping down chairs
- Vacuuming – good intentions here as well as they aren’t going to get every square inch of the carpet!
- Sweeping off the porches
- Picking up sticks in the yard – good after a storm particularly!
- Feeding the cats/dogs/birds/whatever pet whose food and bowls they can reach. As these are living creatures we check up and make sure this is done properly pretty consistently. No room for error here!
- We start them in the kitchen with making a salad, peanut butter, and jelly, etc. Yes, they will make a mess but I have them clean up after themselves. This is important because it also teaches them the importance of not making an unnecessary mess!
- Getting breakfast for themselves: Instant oatmeal, peanut butter toast, fruit, my 8-year-old fries his own eggs even.
- Setting the table
- Folding towels, rags, diapers, hanging up their clothes on hangers, etc.
These are just some of the chores I can think of off the top of my head that I expect out of my little’s. My older children do these as well but because they’ve been doing it since they were little it is just part of their day. I don’t usually have to force anyone, although I may have to remind them or sometimes make the older’s do it over. Again, don’t be afraid to make them do it over! You are the parent and so, therefore, have the God-given duty to train them to become good adults!!
And, if they protest and won’t do it?? Again, you are the parent. No video games, extra-curricular activities, movies, even dinner, until it’s done. Don’t worry. They will not starve to death and die. The tummy can be a powerful motivator. 🙂
One idea, for consistency, is to make a few of these chores part of their morning chores. I have a few chores I require out of each child (age doesn’t matter) before they can have breakfast. When they are young I like to use the chore pack idea that I learned about in “Managers of Their Chores”, by Steve and Teri Maxwell. I started this when my older children were little and found it very helpful. They use pictures of their chores and a little pack they clip onto their clothes to help them remember each little item they need to accomplish in the mornings. This way I (or their partner) just ask them if they finished their chore packs and don’t have to go through each individual item. Time saver for me. 🙂
Do your children do any chores when they are little that I don’t have listed here? Please feel free to post them to give other mother’s more ideas! Being a mother/parent is hard work. We need to band together and help each other out! 🙂
My two year old helps me fold towels and diapers, she is learning to do it quite well.
Establishing the habit of helping is so important when they are young. 🙂