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Chores and children

Yesterday was sunny and balmy with a temperature in the upper 30’s.  Today is in the lower 20’s and we are expecting up to a foot of snow by nightfall.  Welcome to northern Michigan. Lunch is over, the youngest is napping, and the second youngest is playing on the Kindle while I work on the blog. I have a pile of laundry behind me that needs to be folded and put in the appropriate child’s room for them to take care of. The oldest three daughter girls at 7, 11 and 13 are responsible for their own laundry. My son age 9 needs some gentle reminders to put the clothes in the correct spot or hung up. Boys! My younger two girls ages 2 and 5 certainly help me with laundry, but do not have the ability to hang up their clothes high on the hanger or put them away neatly. Recently, I just incorporated an upgraded chore chart for all the children. It includes daily responsibilities and chores as well.  The last time I did chore charts was a year ago and the kids have matured since then so I felt it was time to make some improvements.

A few of their daily responsibilities are as follows:

  1. Getting dressed before breakfast
  2. Making bed
  3. Tidying up room before bedtime
  4. Brushing teeth (its amazing how they need reminding)
  5. Cleaning off table when done at each meal.
  6. Asking Mom or Dad if help is needed

I also encourage and expect the children to read their Bibles, play kindly with siblings, help others if needed without being asked, do homework, and put toys/games away when done.

Typical chores include:

  1. The children work on the kitchen as a team. One washes the dishes while another rinses. One wipes down all surfaces and another sweeps the floor after each meal.
  2. Each child has a day for washing and drying the laundry.
  3. Since each child has their own bathroom, one day a week they are responsible for cleaning their bathrooms.
  4. One day a week each child is responsible for vacuuming, straightening, and dusting their bedrooms.

I frequently remind the children that “Mom is not your maid” and “you are part of a team”. In order for our household to run smoothly my children understand they must do their part. I wish I could report they always were cheerful and did chores willingly, but they do not. They still need reminders to have the good attitude as referred to in Colossians 3:23 “work hard and cheerfully at all you do, just as though you were working for the Lord and not for your masters”. Focus on the Family has some great resources for families. This is where I have learned many concepts I have incorporated into my parenting on topics such a chores and responsibilities.  The following is a list from Focus on the Family that shows the appropriate chores for children according to their age.

Age appropriate chores for children

Ages 2 and 3

Personal chores

  • Assist in making their beds

  • Pick up playthings with your supervision

Family chores

  • Take their dirty laundry to the laundry basket

  • Fill a pet’s water and food bowls (with supervision)

  • Help a parent clean up spills and dirt

  • Dust

Ages 4 and 5

Note: This age can be trained to use a family chore chart.

Personal chores

  • Get dressed with minimal parental help

  • Make their bed with minimal parental help

  • Bring their things from the car to the house

  • PIck up their toys

  • Wash hands

Family chores

  • Set the table with supervision

  • Clear the table with supervision

  • Help a parent prepare food

  • Help a parent carry in the lighter groceries

  • Sort colors for the laundry

  • Match socks after clothing is washed

  • Answer the phone with parental assistance

  • Be responsible for a pet’s food and water bowl

  • Hang up towels in the bathroom

  • Clean floors with a dry mop

Ages 6 and 7

Note: This age can be supervised to use a family chore chart.

Personal chores

  • Make their bed every day

  • Brush teeth

  • Comb hair

  • Choose the day’s outfit and get dressed

  • Write thank you notes with supervision

Family chores

  • Be responsible for a pet’s food, water and exercise

  • Vacuum individual rooms

  • Wet mop individual rooms

  • Fold laundry with supervision

  • Put their laundry in their drawers and closets

  • Put away dishes from the dishwasher

  • Help prepare food with supervision

  • Empty indoor trash cans

  • Answer the phone with supervision

Ages 8 to 11

Note: This age benefits from using a family chore chart.

Personal chores

  • Take care of personal hygiene

  • Keep bedroom clean

  • Be responsible for homework

  • Be responsible for belongings

  • Write thank you notes for gifts

  • Wake up using an alarm clock

Family chores

  • Wash dishes

  • Wash the family car with supervision

  • Prepare a few easy meals on their own

  • Clean the bathroom with supervision

  • Rake leaves

  • Learn to use the washer and dryer

  • Put all laundry away with supervision

  • Take the trash can to the curb for pick up

  • Test smoke alarms once a month with supervision

  • Screen phone calls using caller ID and answer when appropriate

Ages 12 and 13

Personal chores

  • Take care of personal hygiene, belongings and homework

  • Write invitations and thank you notes

  • Set their alarm clock

  • Maintain personal items, such as recharging batteries

  • Change bed sheets

  • Keep their rooms tidy and do a biannual deep cleaning

Family chores

  • Change light bulbs

  • Change the vacuum bag

  • Dust, vacuum, clean bathrooms and do dishes

  • Clean mirrors

  • Mow the lawn with supervision

  • Baby sit (in most states)

  • Prepare an occasional family meal

Ages 14 and 15

Personal chores

  • Responsible for all personal chores for ages 12 and 13

  • Responsible for library card and books

Family chores

  • Do assigned housework without prompting

  • Do yard work as needed

  • Baby sit

  • Prepare food — from making a grocery list and buying the items (with supervision) to serving a meal — occasionally

  • Wash windows with supervision

Ages 16 to 18

Personal chores

  • Responsible for all personal chores for ages 14 and 15

  • Responsible to earn spending money

  • Responsible for purchasing their own clothes

  • Responsible for maintaining any car they drive (e.g., gas, oil changes, tire pressure, etc.)

Family chores

  • Do housework as needed

  • Do yard work as needed

  • Prepare family meals — from grocery list to serving it — as needed

  • Deep cleaning of household appliances, such as defrosting the freezer, as needed

There are benefits of having children do chores.

  1. Chores teach obedience and important life skills.
  2. A chore chart can prevent chore wars, especially since every child knows what to expect.  Here is a chore chart for younger children and for older tweens and teens.
  3. As you work along your child you are spending quality time with them.
  4. Children will also gain self confidence from each skill they learn.

Advice on how to teach chores:

  1. Model the chore
  2. Work along side your child
  3. Be patient.
  4. Allow for mistakes.
  5. When they are successful at said given chore, it is time to handle them another one

Some final thoughts on chores:

My dear mother-in-law gave me some parenting advice that I took to heart many years ago, she said “you should raise your children to be independent of you”. You know what? She was right. As much as I want to have my children with me forever, they will not stay little forever.  My husband and I want to do more than just raise productive members of society.  We are raising our children to be God-fearing individuals. And to work cheerfully and for the glory of the Lord at whatever they do. Some day we will be held accountable as parents for the precious gifts the Lord allowed us to raise.  

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