I grew up having chores and I’m a big fan of them. I think they are important for children for many reasons.
- They teach responsibility:
- They teach children that there is no magic fairy who cleans up the house;
- They teach children teamwork;
- They teach children to have pride in their work and their home; and
- They prepare children to look after themselves when they eventually leave the family home.
I think these are all hugely valuable lessons and ones that you can start to teach even at a young age.
Our eldest is now 3.5 years old but we started giving him chores, or ‘jobs’ as he called them, from a young age. It all happened very organically as he actually loves ‘doing jobs’ and helping out around the house, so we always tried to find him little chores to do. Even when he was tiny there was usually something he could help with. Most of his current chores relate to clothes or tidying.
Here are 10 of his every day chores …
1. Washing From when he was maybe only a year old, C has helped with the laundry. It started as he would follow me round as I did the laundry and then he wanted to help, so I would hand him the clothes that needed to go into the machine and he’d toss them in and then press the button to turn it on, which was obviously the best bit!
2. Drying Now that he’s older he helps carry washing (in small bundles) from the machine out to me in the garden so I can hang it up on the line. He even helps with hanging up some of the lighter items.
3. Socks He can now help match the socks once they’re dry too! This is actually a great one for kids as it helps hone their memory skills as well!
4. Laundry Now that C is older and can get undressed himself in the evenings, he knows to put all his clothes into the hamper in the bathroom before climbing into the bath.
5. Picking clothes In the morning he picks out all his clothes. Most of the time he just wears tracksuit bottoms and t-shirts so he can play and do crafts and we don’t mind what happens his clothes. If we were going somewhere nice I might ‘help’ choose his clothes, but 99% of the time he picks them out and that’s what he wears.
Tidying Up Chores
6. Toys This is something we’ve done from a young age too. At the end of the day before we go up the stairs for bath time we always put away all the toys and books from during the day. When he was little we used to do it with him, but now he generally doesn’t need our help. We have a couple of IKEA storage units that we keep the toys in and C knows exactly where each toy ‘lives’ so it usually takes less than 5 minutes to put everything away.
7. Dishes This is a newer job, but now after a meal or snack he brings his cup and dish over to the sink. We usually have very sharp knives from chopping veg in our dishwasher so we don’t get him to put anything directly into it.
8. Rubbish C puts all his own rubbish in the bin, whether it’s pieces of paper from craft time or a banana peel from a snack. He’ll sometimes check with us whether it goes in the recycling or waste bin, and is always delighted when he guesses right!
9. Making his bed When he turned 3 I taught him how to make his bed. He literally just has a blanket on his toddler bed so I just taught him how to pull each corner to the right place and now he does it himself every morning!
10. Coming home When we arrive back home after being out he knows to take off his shoes and he has his own basket to put them into, along with his jacket and hat if he was wearing them. He also has to wash his hands before playing with any of his indoor toys.
Less Work For Parents!
Aside from teaching him so many important lessons, and giving him a sense of ownership and responsibility, a lot of his small chores add up to help to reduce the day-to-day clutter and debris that parents usually have to pick up, which is a nice bonus! I remember hearing once that ‘good parenting is working yourself out of a job’ and that’s definitely what will happen if we allow kids to take responsibility for tasks starting from a young age.
Let me know in the comments what chores you give your kids!