Do you want to get your kids doing chores at home? Follow these 8 rules to set up a solid and consistent chore routine for your children. You want to start young, have consistency, establish a routine, set up solid rules, have chore wheels and chore charts, and find ways to motivate kids.
If you lived on a Western farm in the early 1900s, your child would be in charge of gathering the eggs at 18 months old.
Can you imagine trusting your 18 month old to that task!
In order to survive, literally, the family all had to pitch in to help out.
If a young child in the early 1900s could help around the farm, surely our children today can help around the house.
Reasons To Have Kids Help at Home
Why would we want our children to help around the house? For one, it helps teach them how to do these tasks so when they move out, they will be able to do these things, too. Another reason is that it is good for people to work–no matter how old they are. Work teaches you a lot and keeps you grounded to real life.
And another reason is to help ease the burden on one person (or just the parents). Children can and should help keep the function of the house moving smoothly. As your children get older, life gets busier. It gets harder to stay on top of all of those chores. You need help.
Getting Kids Actively Engaged in Household Chores
So how do you get your child involved in chores around the house? How do you get them actively engaged in the household responsibilities?
There is no shortage of advice out there on this topic. Many, many books have been written on this. My favorite book that I have read that addresses this at all is The Parenting Breakthrough by Merilee Boyack (see my review on that book here).
Because of the vast number of books that abound on this topic, my guess is people find it hard to establish this in their homes.
One day at the store last summer, barely 7 year old Brayden told me we needed more bathroom cleaner. We sat looking at the cleaners, deciding what to get, when a woman who had teenage boys approached me.
“Does he really clean?!?” she asked me. I was a bit startled by the question and simply replied, “yes.”
She was amazed that he knew the state of our cleaning supplies. She told me she wished she could get her sons to help clean at home.
Let me assure you, if doing chores is a normal part of life at your house, your child will participate.
If it is part of their lives from toddlerhood on up, then doing chores will be as normal as brushing their teeth each day. It is just something you do.
That doesn’t mean every child is easy to keep going–just like some are resistant to naps or independent play, some will be resistant to cleaning time.
Kaitlyn (6) has been a hard one to get motivated in the cleaning department, but lots of encouragement and perseverance has brought her to a place where she is usually quite happy to help out.
She used to hide with a book when it came time for cleaning time (even at preschool!), and now she is a great helper, including at school.
There are a lot of ways to get kids helping. Here are 8 rules we follow at our house.
Just like sleep and independent play, a key to success with chores is to stay consistent.
Make it part of daily life. It is as normal as eating, sleeping, and breathing.
We definitely have our times when we “fall off the wagon” so to speak. Things get busy, our routine changes, etc.
These times will likely come, and when they do, just get back up and work toward consistency again.
START WHEN YOUNG
If an 18 month old can gather eggs for food, an 18 month old can certainly help clean up the mess she just made. Have your child help as she is able.
If you are starting with a toddler, be sure to see my post 12 Chores Your Toddler Can Actually Do. I have a post for every age up into the tween years.
This goes along with your consistency You need to have a routine associated with doing household tasks and chores.
Have a time of day that chores happen–a point when your child will know “time for chores.” Have a day of the week chores get done. There are a lot of ways to set up routines. You can divide all chores up throughout the week. This might look like laundry happens Monday, bathrooms happen Thursday, etc.
You can have some daily chores (like making your own bed, helping with dishes, and cleaning up after yourself) and then have one bigger cleaning and chore day a week.
There is no one right or wrong way. Just pick a method that works for you right now. You can always change it up in the future if needed.
See Working Chores Into Your Child’s Day for more tips.
KIDS HELP PARENTS WITH DAILY CHORES
It is easy to think, yes, I will have my kids help with chores. It is often pretty easy to have them help clean up after themselves (relatively speaking).
The next step is to have them help you with your chores. You will find your child is very interested in doing this if she has seen you do chores. Children want to emulate their parents, so if they see you cleaning, they will want to join you from a young age.
You have to expect that the chore they help with will not be as efficient as when you do it. It will take you longer and it will be harder.
Remember your goals here; it is okay if that end table isn’t perfectly dusted after your 3 year old is done with it. The point is not perfection, the point is teaching skills and habits.
A tricky thing for me with this has been as Brayden went to all-day school, how do I have him contribute without me having to wait for him to be home from school to do the chore?
The best for us is to figure out some portion he can do on his own before school starts. So on laundry day, he and I sort laundry in the morning, Kaitlyn folds socks when she gets home from school, and McKennna helps me throughout the day.
See these posts for more on your goals of cleaning:
- 3 Main Purposes of Parenting
- Learning to Love Our Work and Responsibility
- Chores for Kids Provide More than Just Economic Value
It seems pretty easy to have a simple rule that you need to clean up after yourself. In the context of having more than one child, however, it isn’t that simple. I think this gets messy very quickly.
What if both children played with something? What if one child got the toys out and another then played with it? What if they both played, but it was 70 percent by one and 30 percent by the other?
We have always done “everyone cleans” at our house. Even if the person didn’t ever touch the toy, he might end up being the only one to clean it up. We all help clean.
This is a reality of life. Parents don’t get to say “I didn’t play with that! I am not cleaning it up!”
Each evening, we pick up the floor where the kids primarily play. We just all pitch in and help and it goes by quickly.
>>>Read: Everyone Cleans
HAVE A CHORE WHEEL
I love my chore wheel. I put things on there that typically need to be done around dinner time. After we eat, we each do our assigned chore and get things put back together on the main floor. It is fun to all be working together.
MIX THINGS UP
On the chore wheel, I need to change up the exact chores on there after a couple of rotations. This keeps things fresh and interesting.
You can also mix up which chores are done. Every month, you could rotate through which chores each person is in charge of.
Are you looking for chore cards or a chore chart? My child chore cards pack is a downloadable file you can print. It includes cards your child can flip through and chore charts your child can check off.
This pack covers 2-8 year olds, so you can use it for multiple kids and for many years!
OFFER EXTRA CHORES FOR BONUSES
Once your children are old enough to want “things,” you can offer extra chores for money. My kids have been about 5 when this interest in money happened so far.
I pull from my deep cleaning list and they can do chores for money. We decide how much a chore is worth before they start. I have a rule that regular chores need to be done before they can do money chores, otherwise, I think there is a good chance regular chores would be skipped and money chores would be focused on.
With these 8 simple rules, you can get your children doing chores consistently each week around the home. While it will require some consistency and diligence, you will not regret teaching your kids to help around the house at all.
- How to Teach Children Life Skills: 10 Steps
- How to Motivate Children to Clean Up After Themselves
- Teaching Your Child To Clean Up After Self
- Your Roadmap to Teaching Kids Self-Sufficiency
- 5 Ways to Make Work Fun for Kids
- Tips for Setting Up Chores for Your Kids
- How to Raise a Child Who is a “Good Helper”