Chores were a part of my daily life growing up, and although I hated them, they taught me how to take care of myself and my surroundings. I felt a sense of responsibility and ownership over things like my clothes and my room, all because I was asked to clean up after myself. My mom used to tell me “You’re going to be a mom one day, and you’ll have to take care of the family”
Now that I am a mom though, I realize how important it is to get my kids to do chores at even a young age – regardless of gender, teaching your kids to do chores teaches them discipline, accountability and responsibility.
Here are some of the chores my 6 year old does now:
- Loads/unloads utensils and plastics from dishwasher (I still do glasswear and plates)
- Puts all laundry in the washer/dryer
- Puts away all his laundry (I still fold it)
- Helps rake leaves outside
- Cleans up all his toys
- Feeds the fish
- Helps to walk the dog (holds the leash on flat parts of the road)
- Dusts the entire downstairs
- Reads to his brother before bed
And here are some of the chores my almost 3 year old does now:
- Unloads non-sharp utensils from dishwasher and hands them to me to put away (spoons mainly)
- Helps put laundry in the washing machine and dryer (hands to his brother)
- Cleans up his toys
- Puts away his books before bed
- Helps to walk the dog (sometimes holds the leash with me or his brother)
This is good list of age-appropriate chores to be done (Source: Montessori School – click here for larger version):
Now, none of these chores are done on a daily basis, aside from the pet duties and reading. Most are done on a weekly basis, and of course we miss some weeks. But for the most part, whenever I call my boys to do chores, they happily oblige. And no, we do not pay them for chores or give them an allowance. All the money in their piggy banks are from found change and from grandparents.
So I’m sure you’re wondering – how the heck do we get our kids to do chores, and enjoy them? We tried lots of tactics:
- Chore Charts – we tried stars, checks, stickers; nothing seemed to be enough of an incentive for the kiddos to comply
- Yelling – oh boy did I yell, and then came the threats, “If you don’t help me unload the dishwasher, your iPad is going away!”
- Scare Tactics – lying to my kids that monsters know which kids didn’t do their chores…I’m sure you can tell how that went
What worked the best for us was an app called ChoreMonster, which is free to download and helps the kids keep track of their chores and also get “Rewards” for doing them. We only used ChoreMonster for a few months, but it did the trick to get my older one especially really interested in doing things around the house. Now that he’s getting older, he’s understanding exactly what responsibility means, but starting early with chores was a great way for us to instill responsibility in our boys.
In today’s world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to teach kids about responsibility, respect and understanding. I’ve found that getting my kids to do chores teaches them all three of these, and gives them a sense of ownership over their house and their belongings. Good luck!