I believe in purposefully teaching your kids to do chores! We are a household with two kids, two working parents, and a crazy dog! We are also a ministry family, which means we are busy many evenings during the week. And we do activities and sports! So if it can work for you, it can work for us!
I have a five year old now, and a one year old. We started with teaching Kayla chores when she was about two, and now we are teaching Amelia chores at one and a half! As soon as they can understand what you’re saying and follow very simple directions, you can do it! With both our girls, we start with very simple chores. Here are some ideas for each age.
- pick up toys
- bring shoes to the right room (shoe job!)
- help feed the pets
- put (some) clothes away
- make bed
- put (more) clothes away
- put toys in the right places
- Clean room
- Put (all) clothes away
- Pick up pet poop
- Fold towels
- Wipe mirrors/windows
- Put away dishes that are reachable
- Load some dishes
- Set table
These are just a sampling, and what have worked for our kids. My list stops there because my daughter is five! One of my girls favorite jobs is the “shoe job.” This is a problem at our house (is it just me?!) where shoes accumulate by the doors and look quite messy. So even now, my little Amelia can pick up shoes and bring them to the right places. So helpful!
Pick a system
Chore work best if they are regular, expected, routine. Not random, haphazard, or unexpected. So you’ll have to find a system that works for your family. My system may not work. We do a chore chart! And we have evolved our chore chart a few times, based on the need of my daughters. Find some of our chore charts here in my TeacherPayTeacher store. Now, we do one chart per week, and the goal is to fill up all the spaces with checks or stars or whatever, and then there’s a big reward for finishing (go to a movie, bowling, etc). In the past, the sticker itself was reward enough. The main thing is never over-promise. If you say you’re taking them somewhere or rewarding them with something, you HAVE to do it. Or else they don’t trust you, and don’t want to work for it, and the whole chore chart is pointless.
Let the kids have some choice
This is a good rule of thumb in general, but especially when you’re teaching them responsibilities of chores. Let them pick the order that they do the chores. Or let them pick from two pre-chosen options of chores that day. Or let them pick the reward. Whatever you feel comfortable with letting them choose, do it. Because again, they need to feel some ownership.
For example, in our current chore chart, Kayla has to do five things per day:
This gives her choice in a few areas. She can choose a few pre-determined chores (usually water flowers, put away clothes, vacuum). And she gets to choose something to create. Usually, I let her pick the order too.
We are not really as organized as we sound. We have a plan, but we often veer off the tracks. And that’s OKAY! Better to have a plan and get looser, rather than start off loose and try to impose a strict plan. So we have days where we say that it’s a “no chore!” day. Or we have days that we call “backwards days,” where we do the reward (usually screen time) first, then the chores. Especially in the summer, you have to keep them on their toes and guessing, because routine gets boring sometimes!
Keep it fun!
Remember, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!” You have to make it fun, or it will be like pulling teeth. We do a lot of races, beat the clock, and “I bet you can’t do it before_____.” Kayla has the personality that loves a challenge, so she responds well to it. I know not all kids are like that! You have find whatever your kid would respond to well. Maybe he loves being outside and wants more outside chores. You as the parent can get creative!
What are your tricks and tips for getting kids to do chores? Good luck!