Kids and chores. There are a million different ways to do this and a millions different motivations. There are chore charts, allowance charts, reward charts, chore lists and more. Some methods believe that chores are not meant to be rewarded and its just part of living in a household.
I feel like I fall somewhere in the middle. I want my children to be helpful, self reliant, hard working little people. Admittedly I have tried many different chore charts but I find them too rigid with our ever changing schedule. By not being rigid with the schedule, I feel like I’m teaching them bad habits by having goals and not sticking to them.
On a daily basis the kids have several minimum expectations. Make their beds. Easy. Do their homework if applicable. Easy. Try and be tidy little humans. Easy.
Everything else comes in on a day to day schedule. For example, yesterday my 9 year old had 45 min of homework and hockey practice. He also desperately wanted his friend to come over and play for a bit. On top of this he had a giant basket of laundry to fold. So I told him if he had a great attitude (this is a big thing in our house) and finished his homework properly, he could have his friend over and do his laundry the next day. So I give and take depending on a lot of different factors. However, over the years I have developed a whole list of chores to keep them busy around the house and install a little work ethic.
- Tidying up after each other – If you ever want your kids to turn into tidier people, make them clean up after each other. This comes with a lot of whining and finger pointing but it works. Our 15 month old is a hurricane. That girl can destroy a room like no other child I have seen. I have her older brothers clean up most of her toys (while attempting to teach her too). Then the next time I’m cleaning up their toys I can point out how it feels when you have to clean up someone else’s mess.
- Dust Busting – This is one of my favorites for my four year old because he thinks its fun. I have him do the stairs, the kitchen, pretty much every corner and wall seam in the house. Basically I give it to him with a full charge and tell him to keep going until the battery is dead.
- Dusting – This is one even my 1 year old can “help” with. I give them each a Swiffer cloth and ask them to wipe down surfaces on shelves, counters, window sills, etc. My oldest is quite tall so he gets the high shelves and the two littles handle everything down low.
- Spot Scrubbing – I’m not entirely sure how. That’s a lie, it’s the little hurricane we call our daughter. But there is dried food in areas of the kitchen that need to be scrubbed aggressively off the floor. Most of it is around the kitchen table and her high chair. She pretty much takes spoonfuls of food and flings it, or dumps the bowl. I wipe it up most of the time, but sometimes it just gets missed. So I have the boys get down and scrub the floors with a scrubby sponge to make everything spotless
- Outdoor garbage collection – We live in a super windy neighbourhood so we quite often have trash blown into our garden beds and backyard. I send them out with gloves and a garbage bag. As they get older you can have them do areas around the neighbourhood too.
- The Sock Bag – The dreaded sock bag. I absolutely hate folding socks. Next to unloading the dishwasher its my least favorite chore. So all week long as I’m doing laundry I dump all the loose socks into a giant bag. Then on Fridays the kids have to pair and fold the entire thing. They hate it. I love it.
- Unloading the Dishwasher – like I said…..least favorite thing. So happy that the kids are now old enough to do it!
- Weed picking – The kids are quite terrible at it. They never pull it out from the root. Even though I’ve explained to them that they will have to do it less often if they do a really good job. But it’s a good one for little hands and teaching hard work. So many chores take 5-10 min that its nice to give them a job that takes longer and teaches a little stamina
- Snow Shoveling – Where we live there is a good 6 months of snow shoveling. The kids actually really love it. They think of it as playing. I usually have to go out and redo it a bit but overall they are a big help!
- Toy Cleaning – I set them up with a movie. Throw some sponges and soapy bowls of water their way and let them scrub all the bins of toys in the playroom. Sometimes the mess is a bit more than one might want but it gets the job done
- Movie and Video Game matching – I’m one of those annoying people that always puts the wrong movie or video game in whatever case is closest. So when it gets to the point where we can’t find anything I put them all in a pile and let the kids organize them.
- Fruits and Veggie cutting – We are just starting to get into this because I’m worried about cut fingers. But I give my oldest a cutting board and softer fruits and vegetables that I’m not worried about him slipping and cutting himself by pressing too hard. He can cut up strawberries, cucumbers, melon, and any other things I need him to for dinner prep of snacks
- Garbage collection – This is a super easy one. On the night before garbage day I have one of them run throughout the house and empty and smaller waste bins into a larger bag.
- Deodorizing spray – I make a deodorizing spray with essential oils that the kids can use for their hockey gear, shoes, and pretty much anything else fabric wise that can’t be washed in the laundry that needs a little “freshening up”. I use 2 oz water, 1 oz witch hazel and 25-30 drops of essential oils. I love citrus smells so I usually use a combination of young livings thieves and orange. Sometimes I add a little vanilla too. Works like charm. Just give them a list of things to wander around and spray.
- Car Clean out – As a busy mom my Car looks like a disaster. It definitely could be kept cleaner on a regular basis but its an area that no matter how hard I try it just sucks. It’s a black hole of mittens, socks, snack wrappers, Tupperware and toys. When the weather is decent I can have the two older kids empty everything into a big bin and then I can sort through it inside the house. It at least keeps the clutter down a bit in the car.
When it comes to chores I try to get them to help with everything they are able to. Realistically there are some weeks that I just don’t have the energy to fight with the whining and/or patiently help them do the chore and then redo it afterwards when they aren’t looking. Some weeks I just do it all myself. But the more I get them to do, the easier things become in the long run and I hope that I’m raising capable little children that will continue to do these chores after they’ve moved out on their own.
I would love to see comments on any additional chores you have your kids do around your house.