One of the most popular (and controversial) articles on my site is the one I wrote about age appropriate chores for kids. The real life truth around here is that my kids do chores. We live by the – if you make a mess, you clean it up- rule around here and that means everyone helps out when it comes to cleaning.
Let’s face it, between laundry, cooking, homeschool, errands, extra curricular activities, friends, and everything else that happens in our house, I need help with the daily chores. Especially when it is the kids who are creating 90% of the messes around here!
Around the time child #5 arrived I realized that my children were totally capable of doing basic chores around the house. Not only were they capable, they loved helping! It made them feel like “big kids” and they often argued over who got to do certain jobs.
My biggest concern in having my kids help out around the house was that I didn’t want them to use harsh cleaners. I have a few children who would probably squirt themselves in the eye given the opportunity, so I always made sure they didn’t use any chemicals that could harm them while they cleaned.
So, if you want your kids to help you clean around the house here are a few tips.
Remember they are children.
Each child has different personalities and abilities. Only assign chores that they are capable of doing without harming themselves or others.
Work with your children.
The best way to get your kids excited about helping around the house is to work with them. When you work with your children you can teach them how to do the chores properly and eventually you will spend less time re-doing their work.
Make it fun.
Most kids, when they are little, think chores are fun. As long as you make it fun they’ll keep this attitude for a long time. We’ve done everything from racing to see who can finish the fastest to contests to see who can get something the cleanest. My kids are super competitive so contests really motivate them to do a good job. Some kids love stickers or other small rewards. Depending on your child’s personality, there are many fun ways to motivate them.
Keep it safe.
Young children should not have access to harsh cleaners. Even the most responsible eight year-old should not use anything that could harm them or anyone else. I often try to find cleaners that are safe for my children to use (middle school age) so they learn how to clean but don’t risk hurting themselves or others.
Teaching your older children how to do a quick clean of the bathroom makes all the difference in the world. Instead of the kids’ bathroom looking like an episode of toiletries gone wild it is actually a place that I don’t mind going in to give a child a bath or help them brush their teeth.
Virginia Knowles says
I wrote a post on children and chores a while back at http://comewearymoms.blogspot.com/2011/04/first-steps-to-tidy-home-children.html
Your article reminded me of one of the paragraphs in mine:
“Provide appropriate tools for your children to help clean house. Imagine that you had to clean a giant’s house with the giant’s own tools! Stretch, pull, stretch, pull! Provide your children with child-size brooms, dustpan, work gloves, garden tools, aprons, etc. Keep a whole pile of wipe-up cloths on a low shelf. Use non-toxic cleaners stowed in a caddie which can be carried from room to room. Give them plastic bins for easy toy storage. Make it simple and it will more likely get done! Eventually, your children will learn which tools or supplies are used for each task. The narrow vacuum nozzle is used for cleaning the cracks in the couch, while the wide one is used for the floor. One spray bottle is for cleaning windows, but the other is for disinfecting toilets. The ability to select an appropriate resource is just one more step on the way to independence.”
Cinnamon Vogue says
I would like to add Microfiber cloths when children clean. Wipe and rinse with water. Zero chemicals. Good for most routine cleaning jobs. I also love the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser which children can use very safely, especially to get rid of those crayon marks they put on the tables or walls in the first place. But you sure do have some really cute kids Toni.
Cinnamon Vogue says
Wow this method company looks really great. And their products are just perfect.
Hi! I just had a question about the chore chart. My husband and I want to use it for our family. We have 5 kids as well. What does “all previous chores” mean exactly? Does that mean that the 6 year old has to do her chores and the 3 year olds chores? If that’s the case, my 12 year old would end up doing the entire list. Maybe I’m not reading something correctly…
Toni Anderson says
The list provides suggestions for chores that a child that age should be capable of doing. So “all previous chores” means they’re capable of doing the previous chores, plus the new ones for that age group. It is not expected that a child does all the chores, even in their age category. Pick 2 – 3 chores for each child (or maybe let them choose).