After years of cooking every meal, cleaning up every spill, and tidying up every toy, something amazing can begin to occur in your home. As your kids become better communicators, better with gross and fine motor skills, and more interested in the “grown-up” tasks that go on in a household, you can actually ask them to pitch in! Assigning chores gives kids a great sense of responsibility and ownership. When they tidy up at daycare or in preschool, their pride is more than obvious. And kids like to feel needed, as if their hard work makes a difference.
If you’ve never talked to your kids about household chores, consider holding a family meeting to talk about the various responsibilities that the family shoulders, and how those responsibilities can be divided up between both kids and adults Involving the children in this conversation makes them feel as if they’re a part of a team, and will create a feeling of investment in the chores that are assigned to them.
Create a list of family chores that need to be completed on a weekly and daily basis. You can create a new list each week, and leave spots for each task to be checked off, or even marked with a gold star for a job done so well that it exceeds expectations! Show your kids which chores have their names next to them, and be prepared to give gently reminders until they start to get the routine down.
Make sure the chores you delegate are age appropriate. Kids younger than the age of 2 aren’t ready yet for most family chores, but at around the age of 18 months, you and your child can begin a routine of putting away his toys each night before bed. This establishes a routine that will continue for years. Between the ages of 2 and 3, kids can begin to dress themselves and make their beds with just a bit of assistance, and wipe up small spills, sweep small areas, pull weeds, and dust the furniture. Between ages 4 and 5, kids can begin to help in the kitchen! Let your kids stir, rinse fruits and vegetables, and even set and clear the table. They can participate in watering plants, and washing the car – just prepare for some wet, messy kids afterward! After age 6, kids can begin to care for the family pet, by feeding, scooping litter, cleaning cages, and taking the dog out into the backyard to relieve himself. Kids of this age can be taught simple recipes to cook for dinner, and can even weed and water the lawn and take of the trash. And, in a move that will really lighten your load, you can ask them to vacuum regularly and mop the floors.
Remember to say thank you when your children complete their tasks on time and when they do a great job! Showing your gratitude motivates kids to continue pitching in, sometimes without any prodding necessary!
Do you have a chore schedule in your home? Let us know that worked, and what still needs work, in the comments.