chores in the home should be a regular part of life for all children, and using chores to create a healthy work ethic in our kids should be an essential step in raising the next generation.
chore time is a healthy part of life, we all have things to clean as humans living on planet earth, and teaching your kids to be self-sufficient, hard workers, with a good work ethic is something that every husband, wife and boss will thank you for.
young children who are never taught to look after themselves or contribute to living in a home by keeping it clean and tidy become adults who don’t know how to work to a standard.
young adults who never worked in the home, hate being told how to do things and lack the skills needed to be valuable employees until the boss takes the time to diligently train them in the simple skills they should have learned in the home.
So if you’re a parent, and you have a kid who is working age, (4 and up) and you want to know what you should be teaching your kids when it comes to chores in the home keep reading.
Step 1. teach self-sufficiency
from putting on shoes to cleaning up after themselves in the kitchen, all your children should be learning the skills to be self-sufficient adults.
everyone should be self-sufficient in the most basic of ways, and as parents, it is our job to teach it.
things you can teach your child from the age of 2 are:
- putting their shoes away.
- putting their toys away.
- how to help with putting their plate away after meals.
- helping set the table for meals.
- knowing how to buckle themselves into car seats.
- how to complete small tasks like putting the tv remote or a book you just read to them back in its place.
- only use a little toilet paper.
- how to brush their teeth with your help.
- how to place their bottles in the sink. (so you aren’t losing them)
- how to close doors after themselves.
these are all basic and can be taught with prompting and repetition, which shouldn’t be too hard since they are everything we do daily.
self-sufficiency for older kids.
- making beds. (done nicely not sloppy) (5+)
- keeping their room clean and vacuumed. (5+)
- maintain their own shower schedule and shower routine(6+)
- be able to brush teeth before bed without being told and clean basins after doing so (5+)
- clean up the bathroom after themselves, basins wiped, wet clothes taken out towel hung. (6+)
- help clean after themselves in the house, Toys, sandwich making, getting a drink etc.. (6+)
self-sufficiency doesn’t have to come with rewards, no tokens, no money, no treats and no toys.
We all need self-sufficiency to get by, so your kids need to understand what is just living as a responsible human without being rewarded for it.
the reward is teeth that are clean, beds that feel nice at the end of the day, and more time with mum at the end of the day thanks to helping clean up.
Step 2. know how you will get chores done each day.
so, if you have decided to start a chore time routine in your home, or you have one and you don’t like it or it isn’t working for you, then here are some things you can try to create a chore time routine that works in your home.
the team clean
Team cleaning is good if you have children aged 5 and older. It is a way to clean as a team, with perhaps music or a game. that helps everyone get in the cleaning mood, and if you are struggling to round up your kids for chore time, spending a set time cleaning each day can help.
set the timer for 30-45 minutes, put on a playlist, and everyone cleans in one room, working together, you can check work, teach younger children and coordinate as you go, as well as finish the jobs with a mother’s touch.
It works well if you start at one end of the house and aim to finish at another.
the set chore routine.
note how I say routine and not set chore time.
you can set a chore time if that helps you, but for most of us with children, our days are run more as a series of events that mark the passing of time in the day.
so if you have a routine, in the morning or at night, when your kids can all pitch in and tidy a room or two each.
you can do the same thing, set up some music, or a timer and have everyone go and work separately.
this is good if you have older children you have taught to clean well, and they can clean independently.
the chore list.
you can also have a chore list for each child, either printed out and staying the same or as simple as the day’s jobs written on a sticky note.
either way, you can teach your children to work through the jobs, you may give them four or five, to complete by a point during the day, or before they do a certain activity.
This isn’t my favourite for young children, as you need to usually keep reminding them and checking work, and then someone loses their list.
but, if you have older children who are trying to teach responsibility and time management in their days, then this is a great way to set out daily chores.
so set chores are ones that you give your kids, that don’t change, and that they do at the same time each day, and perhaps multiple times per day.
this could be that your children are in charge of cleaning the living areas after meals.
stacking dishes, washing dishes, folding laundry, and feeding chickens.
this is a great way to get your home clean, stay clean and give yourself as much mental space as possible when you are busy.
this system and the team clean are ones that I use when I am feeling busier than usual.
how much time should your kids spend doing chores each day?
a think up to an hour a day, broken up is a good standard to work with. (read this post)
my kids probably do more.
my family’s chore routine looks like this.
Morning chores take place after breakfast.
- beds made,
- rooms cleaned.
- One job is assigned to each child. (bathroom, dining room, lounge, toy room.)
these morning jobs don’t take long unless my kids decide to drag it out and work slowly.
afternoon chores take place after quiet time.
we either do a 30-minute team clean or again each child (I have 3 workers and 1 trainee) will be assigned a job each or 1 larger job and one small one.
The evening clean takes place after dinner
this is just our living areas, which takes around 15 minutes (I take longer putting the kitchen to bed)
step 3. set the standard.
now when you begin a chore routine in your home, no matter how old the child, immediately start teaching your cleaning standard. (read this post)
all children can clean small areas when they are young to the same standard you would.
things like cleaning windows or waxing wood furniture, yeah, they won’t do the same as you, but picking up toys, sweeping floors, wiping tables, washing dishes, wiping basins, cleaning toilets.
All can be done with your standard taught and reached.
this is really important when it comes to chores in your home.
you want the children to be able to deliver work that is actually clean and looks nice.
if you had a guest use a toilet cleaned by your child you shouldn’t be worried about the quality of the cleaning.
so from the very first job, like making a bed, wiping a basin or sweeping a floor, stay and teach them the standard set, and the only thing that changes, as time goes on, is how long it takes them to reach that standard when they do the job.
step 4. Don’t bribe your way into chore time.
setting weekly pocket money or allowance for your kids is great, and if you think it is a good motivator for good work to attach that to their chore quality then that is a great way to help them understand that time and effort do get rewarded.
However, do not bribe your kids into chore time.
don’t allow them to only work when you have offered money, toys or activities in order or them to stop playing and work.
bribing kids when they are little takes small bribes, ones that aren’t going to break the bank or the budget, but bribes for older children can get out of hand.
and that is only a minor detail really.
As adults, we experience life as having to work, having to work day in and day out, for what we have.
What we have, the roof over our heads, the food on our table, and the clothes on our backs are what we work for, treats are an added bonus, ones that come and go as our situations change.
so, teach your kids, that they do chores, not for bribes, but because that’s a part of life and a healthy part of life.
I pay my kids an allowance, which they are taught to save.
I take them out for treats, and they get money spent on them at birthdays and Christmas.
but when it comes to chores, I reward them with praise, and a small treat when we are out and about, (like milkshakes or ice cream) and then they understand that it all depends on my ability to give treats and that if they get none, they still work.
I do pay my kids money for jobs that are large, that they ask to do.
like weeding gardens, cleaning kickboards or walls, doing large yard jobs and so on, the dollar amount I pay is determined by me, and not the child, and the work is inspected before payment.
step 5. Create a happy work environment.
if you want chore time to be a part of your family dynamic, then make it a happy one.
this includes doing this like music, or games (kids love being a robot while they clean, who can pick up the most, who do their jobs the fastest for a dollar)
it also means, having things for your children to use easily for cleaning, create cleaning caddy’s, (read this post) make sure you have taken the time to teach them skills they need, like wiping surfaces, dusting vacuuming, and so on.
this also means you need to work on your kid’s ability to work together.
if your kids are fighting, blaming each other for the mess, and hate working even in proximity to each other while doing separate jobs then you need to work on your overall attitude towards cleaning.
children should not be unhappy cleaning up after the family.
Do not allow your children to refuse to do a job you ask of them because they didn’t make the mess.
if your children refuse to work together, then you need to make them, and then you need to get those children to work together more often, and practice service tasks, like having them serve each other dinner, or offer to carry something for them, or spend time doing an activity together.