What Chores Do You Give Your Kids, and a Giveaway Winner

Thanks to all who entered last week’s Mean Mom’s Rule Giveaway.  The winner (I always choose giveaway winners using random.org, just so you know) is Sheila.  I thought her comment was interesting:

I’ve been making my son sort-of do chores since he was about 18 months old – much to the surprise of some family & friends. But he actually loves “helping” (even when he isn’t really much help), and it’s getting him in the habit. He started with emptying the silverware container in the dishwasher, and bringing the items to me to put into the drawer, and we’ve added small tasks as he’s able.

I’m always wondering if the chores I assign my kids are too much, too little, or age appropriate.  For example, my kids (6,almost 5, 3) dust, set the table, sort laundry, and pick up with varying degrees of success.  Hannah also unloads the dishwasher, with some help from the other two.  And they all use the dust buster as needed and Hannah can vacuum with help.  Are there other normal chores I’m overlooking?

What sorts of chores do your kids do?  How do you decide what is age appropriate and worth the time it takes you?

Sheila, send me your address and I’ll pass it along to the publisher so you can get your copy of the book!

12 thoughts on “What Chores Do You Give Your Kids, and a Giveaway Winner

  1. I’ve also been making Jesse do “chores” since he could walk; mostly because I firmly believe that if you don’t involve them when their young and it’s still fun for them, they won’t want to be involved later on.

    I have Jesse (almost 4) do the same things you’ve already mentioned. I also have him clean the front of appliances. He empty small trash cans, wipe down baseboards, light switches and door knobs. He likes washing windows and sweeping with the broom, but I still have to re-do those things after him. I also make them both put away their own clean clothes as well as put the dirty ones in the hamper. They love getting the mail and bringing in the empty trash cans. They sweep the porch and deck and always clean up all their outside toys by themselves.

    The thing I struggle with is not dumping everything on Jesse. He’s more capable than Lily right now and I often make him do everything, just because he’s faster and more efficient.

    Do you find that Sarah and Jack get off with less than Hannah, or does it become easier to equally divide chores as the younger ones grow up?

    1. Alyssa, it sometimes makes me laugh how much I expected Hannah to do when she was barely toddling around versus what I ask Sarah to do. Hannah has always been “the big kid” and it’s hard to divide equally now, but I do try to be somewhat fair. Unfortunately, at this stage they don’t like it when I ask one person to do something and don’t make the other two follow suit – this is a problem in school work too since Hannah has to do more than Jack, but she’s 6 and he’s not yet 5.

      I guess I do ask the kids to do more than I listed now that I see your list – but I don’t have them down as regular chores for everyday (different standards of housekeeping clearly – I don’t frequently wipe down baseboards or clean light switches!). Mostly my approach is “this is something we need to do, and we are all pitching in because we are all part of our family” and some of us are able to help more than others.

  2. Sounds a lot like our house (with kids ages almost 6, 4, 2 1/2)–my girls also typically make their own beds (the oldest helps the youngest a little), help me while folding laundry (washcloths, matching and folding socks, underwear, dishtowels, their pants, then their shirts–in that order progressively), dump the compost (but this chore has resulted in quite a mess a couple of times!!!), water plants, and sometimes bring the trashcans/recycling bin in from the street. That seems like quite the list all typed out, but most of these activities are not every day occurrences and are not officially scheduled/assigned. The laundry can seem daunting/tedious at times, but I try to keep fun conversations going. The last few items are big-time exciting things to them! And anything WITH me rates fairly high as well–“working” in the garden or the kitchen are frequent requests.

    Definitely agree with the struggle of asking more from the older, but I’ve tried to counter that with sort of graduating them from one chore to another when the next youngest is ready to do it. Not that that means the older one is totally off the hook forevermore, but maybe they’ll do it together sometimes or she gets to do something she has been really wanting to help with (stir the oatmeal/grits at breakfast, pour the milk, etc) .

    We have lots of reading and play time throughout the day since that’s their primary “work,” but I do want to instill in them a hatred of sloth and help them realize that it can be very enjoyable to work hard and see a job through. I don’t think they view me as a slave driver, though my 4-year-old does remind us all that “if you don’t work, you don’t eat!” We discuss that principle as needed, but we don’t apply it with a checklist prior to every meal!

    Mary Ostyn’s book (Sane Woman’s Guide) and blog (Owlhaven) have helped me a lot in shaping my chore expectations.

    1. I have not been good at enforcing bed making, although I keep thinking of new ways to try it. Hannah’s bed is wedged against the wall in such a way that getting the covers smooth is difficult even for me, and Jack often uses his sheet and blankets to build forts so it’s often a question of “where are your covers so you can go to bed, son?” Sarah is still in a crib (I know, it’s terrible, but she still fits in there and I don’t have anywhere to store the crib or the inclination to buy a new bed before we move!) so she can’t stand up high enough to tuck her blanket in…

      But really, I need to get a system for teaching bed making! 🙂

      I read Mary Ostyn’s book a while ago but had forgotten about the chore section. Thanks for the reminder!

      1. As far as bed making goes, we don’t have high expectations! Our oldest used to be so fastidious about tucking everything in perfectly and smoothing all the wrinkles out every morning (I won that book about perfectionism last fall–thanks SO much!), but now she’s on the top bunk so we try to arrange her covers so they don’t have to be tucked under her mattress. And the 2yo on the bottom bunk has a similar set-up. The 4yo on the trundle does tuck in and fold over, but it’s low-key! We’re all for simple–my husband and I even use a duvet European-style with no top sheet!

        And I loved your other comment about all being part of the family. We make it a point to help the kids see our family as a team! We have used chore charts in the past, but I found them to be de-motivators overall because the focus became doing the chore to get the sticker up there (which sometimes was forgotten, of course), so now we focus more on routines attached to a particular time/event. These certain things happen after the child gets dressed, this one big thing is right after breakfast, and so on. But that definitely reflects our family’s personality–and mine!

        1. I found the same thing about chore charts and stickers. The work as a team/family thing works pretty well sometimes, but other times they really struggle with attitudes. The attitude thing seems to be a bigger deal as they get older, and I’m still trying to figure out how to help them with it.

  3. Hmmm. Thomas cleans the two bathrooms (sinks, toilets, mirrors) and empties all the trash from little wastebaskets into the big kitchen trash three times a week. He also helps Matt with yard work. Mary sets the table for dinner nightly and unloads the silverware from the dishwasher. Both have to put their clothes in the hamper and help put away their socks and underwear. I think that is about it. Well, no, they both occasionally get “Sally duty,” which means that they must keep Sally from climbing onto the table or otherwise attempting to injure herself (a favorite pastime) while I am busy elsewhere.

      1. I thought they already knew how to clean the bathroom. Remember the video you did several years ago when they were singing, “People need Shaklee..”? That was a hoot!

      2. I must say, he is pretty good at it! He cleans the sinks, mirrors, and the toilets with a vinegar and water solution….I clean the tub, mostly because I use a heavy duty cleaner for that, and I am not comfortable letting him breathe in the fumes. I also give the toilets a good, toxin-heavy cleaning once a week, when Thomas isn’t looking. lol.

  4. Apparently I am too lenient on Morgan! Morgan feeds the dog, unloads the silverware from the dishwasher, sets and clears the table, makes her bed, puts her clothes in the laundry, and picks up her toys in both her room and the playroom. I guess I am too much of a control freak to let her clean the bathrooms (while I am quite impressed that some of the parents who commented get this done successfully!!). She also likes to help me dust, which I let her do but then end up going back over it anyhow.

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