I fully believe it is good for kids to do chores. In fact, I think it is probably BAD for kids NOT to do chores. Sometimes, my kids think I am a mean mom. Meh, I can live with that.
Doing chores helps kids learn so many important lessons, the most obvious of which is HOW TO CLEAN THINGS. But it also teaches more subtle lessons. It enables them to look around the house and see how much work goes in to keeping it clean and tidy and livable and eventually (hopefully) they will have a greater appreciation of the things Matt and I do. It forces them to learn to work with others and for others even if they aren’t getting something in return. It teaches life lessons about doing things you don’t want to do but that need to be done anyway. And it gives them a sense of confidence and responsibility that can only help them later in life.
My kids have chores every day. First, though, let me say that, in my opinion, keeping their room relatively clean is separate from doing chores. They have to keep their rooms clean, just like I have to keep the bathrooms and the kitchen clean. No one wants to live in a pig sty and I won’t live in a house where I have to shut doors so I’m not looking at a mess. So they must make their beds every morning (I make mine too), and they have to put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket (which is easily accessible in their bedrooms). Those are bare minimums that don’t even count as chores in my book.
Of course, they don’t always remember. But I remind them and I keep an eye on things and help out as necessary. But Q is three years old and even he can throw dirty clothes in a hamper and pull his bedspread up–it doesn’t have to be perfect. And as they get older, it gets better.
The kids are responsible for doing ONE chore every morning before they go to school. Since they wake up by 7 at the latest and don’t have to leave for school until 8:25, they have plenty of time. For a while, I assigned the chores and they did the same ones every week. But they got bored and frustrated with that, and B complained that she always had to do the hardest ones because she was the oldest. Which was kind of true.
About a year and a half ago, I came up with a new chore system and I LOVE IT. Here it is:
This is a list of 15 chores (3 kids x 5 days per week) that need to be done in my house in the course of the week. Each morning after breakfast, they each pick a number out of a “To Be Done” jar and that is the chore they have to do that day. The number slip goes into the “Done” jar until the end of the week. Then we start over. That way, each kid gets different chores every week and no one can complain that I didn’t assign things fairly.
Q is not included in this yet but he will be by next school year. For now, his chore is to feed the cat and the dog every morning. He never forgets.
When we first started this, I went through each chore with them a few times to make sure they understood what they really needed to do. Now they all know each chore back and front and I don’t even have to be involved. It’s awesome.
You might notice that the last two chores are 3-kid chores. That was intentional to make them have a few times where they all have to work together to get something done, plus it was a task I didn’t think was fair for one kid to have to do alone (it was bigger or took much longer than the other chores).
This system is not fancy–I obviously just wrote the list with a pen and some magic markers that were in the kitchen. It is thumbtacked to the bulletin board by the computer in our kitchen and the number jars sit on the shelf below it. But this system is effective. It works, and it means that I don’t have to dust or clean windows almost ever. Winning!
As the kids get older, I will combine some chores into one and add others that are more difficult, but for now, we are in a good routine and the kids usually remember to do a chore on their own every morning. And when they don’t, I remind them. 🙂
How do you handle chores for kids?