Ask any teenager if they like doing chores – even picking up their own jocks off the bathroom floor – and you’ll hear a resounding, ‘Nope!’.
Motivating children (and sometimes even their Dad!) to complete household chores can be a struggle, at any age.
But it doesn’t have to be.
I’m a big believer in everyone pitching in and contributing to running a household so that the responsibility doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of the parents. But also so that our young people have the opportunity to develop some key life skills.
In this blog, I share the benefits of routines and children doing household chores, how to get children involved and some ideas for age-appropriate chores that your kids can start doing right away!
Hello early mark for your weekend!
What are the benefits of children doing household chores?
// 1. Encourages self-discipline and independence
While it may be difficult to imagine your sweet, toothless wonder ever leaving home and living on their own, the truth is real.
Your children will eventually leave the nest! And when they do, they’ll need to be ready. Doing jobs around the house helps children learn about what they need to do to care for themselves, a home and a family.
Learning skills like cooking meals, organizing, cleaning and gardening are essential life skills that they will use as an adult.
Through practising these skills under your guidance, your children develop the self-discipline to create positive habits and become more independent over time.
// 2. Fosters respect and develops relationship skills
How many times have you used the ‘You can go out, but only after you’ve done your chores’ line, eh?
By being involved with chores children learn relationship skills, such as cooperation, teamwork, communication and of course, negotiation.
Children need to know that they play an important role within their family.
By being included in the family duties, children gain respect for their parents and understand the effort invested in maintaining a busy household. As a result of this awareness, the relationship between parents and children is strengthened.
// 3. Builds confidence and responsibility
Even if they don’t enjoy doing their chores, every time your children complete a task, they will get a sense of satisfaction that helps them feel competent and responsible.
As your children get older and tackle more difficult tasks, their sense of responsibility and their confidence will increase.
//4. Helps families function better
It goes without saying that sharing the workload can reduce family stress. In fact, ‘delegating’ is one of the 4 D’s in the 4-D Framework, which I invented to help families combat brain-clutter and be more present. When children help out more, parents don’t have to do as much.
This frees up time for the family to be more spontaneous and do something fun together.
How to get kids involved with household jobs
I knew you were going to ask! As with most habits you want to create, it’s important to start as early as possible.
But, if you’ve been a bit too lax or you’ve been too much of a control freak (yep, guilty here!) to let anyone else help, the good news is, it’s never too late to start.
// 1. Keep the tasks age-appropriate
According to Raising Children, the secret for involving children in household chores is asking for contributions that you value and that suit your children’s ages and abilities.
If the chore is too difficult, children can get frustrated and if it’s too easy, they will quirkily lose interest.
// 2. Establish routines
Having a system in place for household routines makes it easier for others to follow your expectations.
Some tasks have to be completed every day such as stacking and unpacking the dishwasher and doing laundry (at least in my house!), while other tasks may only need to be completed weekly such as refreshing linen while other tasks like weeding the garden may only have to be done once a month.
Making these routines visible to your children is an important step to keep them in the loop about the scope of tasks that need to be completed to keep the household running smoothly.
Make a list of EVERYTHING that needs to be done around your home, by mentally scanning each nook and cranny of your house and yard, then jot down all the household jobs.
Use this Family Weekly Chore Planner to review all household tasks and assign responsibilities to each family member. Once designated, transfer this list of tasks into your Life Sorted app using the repeating to-do function and set reminders.
Voila! Now sit back and relax, while Life Sorted takes over and reminds everyone of their chores without the need for constant nagging.
You can Download our handy Life Sorted Family Weekly Chore Planner, once completed add these tasks into your Life Sorted app using the repeating to-do feature.
// 4. Give choice
According to Raising Children, children over six years old are able to help decide which chores they’d prefer. I like to keep options to two choices only. That way children feel like they have some control over the situation and they don’t feel like they’re being ‘forced’ to help.
Communicate clearly and regularly
One of the best ways to get kids involved in taking on more responsibly around the house is to keep the communication lines open about what you expect from them and give them a task deadline to meet. It’s a little bit like running your family like a business! (Which I absolutely love doing by the way!)
We also have regular family meetings, where we delegate tasks and check in on the progress of tasks, along with discussing our goals, and celebrating any wins for the week. I share all my tips about how you can run your family like a business here.
Trust me, it’s not as cringe-worthy as it sounds!
Also, using a family calendar app like Life Sorted may help you to plan and prioritise the household chores in a language your teenage children understand. The ‘repeating to-do’ feature means you can schedule a regular chore such as taking the rubbish out nightly or mowing the lawn monthly and have it give them the nudge automatically (so you don’t have to!).
Praise positive behaviour
Praise is when you tell your child what you like about her or his behaviour.
It helps nurture their self-esteem, builds confidence and develops a strong sense of self.
According to Raising Children, children are more likely to repeat behaviour that earns praise. If you reinforce the connection between ‘doing household chores’ and contributing positively to family life, you can reap the rewards of running a truly collaborative household.
Be sure to use ‘descriptive praise’ which is when you tell your child exactly what it is that you like. For example, “I like the way you found a place for everything in your wardrobe”.
It’s also more sincere and helpful than a vague comment like, “Good girl!”.
Giving lots of encouragement, particularly when the task is not completed exactly as you would have done it, helps boost their confidence and makes them feel like their efforts are valued.
What are some age-appropriate chore ideas?
How early is too early to start? The truth is every child and every household is different. That didn’t help, did it?!
But it’s true. Remember to start with tasks that they are able to do and then build their skills, confidence and interest levels by adding more difficult tasks.
Here are a few ideas of tasks, as suggested by the Raising Children website and from my experiences that may be suitable for your young people.
// Chore ideas for toddlers (2-3 years)
- Pick up toys and books (use images as labels on boxes)
- Put clothes on clothes hooks or in laundry baskets
- Set the table
- Clean minor spills (especially caused by them)
// Chore ideas for pre-schoolers (4-5 years)
- Set the table
- Make bed
- Help prepare meals (with guidance)
- Sort clean clothes into family member piles
- Help with grocery shopping and putting away
- Pass you wet clothes to be hung on the line
// Chore ideas for school-age children (6-12 years)
- Feed pets
- Water the garden or plants
- Clean the bathroom sink, wipe benches, mop floors or take out rubbish
- Help hang clothes and fold washing
- Stack and unpack dishwasher
- Help with meal preparation and serving (with guidance)
- Help with choosing meals and shopping
- Wash car
- Wash windows
// Chore ideas for teenagers (13-19)
Everything from the School-age children category plus:
- Prepare simple family meals (with guidance)
- Put laundry on and hang out to dry
- Fold laundry
- Walk pets
- Iron clothes
Last thoughts… Getting your children to do chores can become a frustrating looong process, especially when your instructions go in one ear and out the other (but hey you’ve now got Life Sorted to do the nagging for you). Unleashing your anger and frustration on your children isn’t going to do you any favours, so give them the space and time necessary to adapt to the new household routines.
And remember, your self-care is far more important than a stacked dishwasher and mopped floors.