girl watering a purple flowered plant as chores for home

Here is something I strongly believe in, everyone living within a home needs to contribute to the household in some way. This is often referred to as chores, though really, it is just helping the family unit as a whole going about their regular lives.

Have you struggled to get your kids to do chores at home? Maybe you have been going about it the wrong way, and with a bit a readjustment in how these tasks are perceived the whole family will benefit. These secrets will change your perspective on chores and bring an old fashioned ideas back into play with how a family functions.

Start Early

This is easy to say now, but you may be later in your journey of parenthood an that’s alright. You can change your home’s view on chores no matter what age everyone is, but for those of you with young kiddo’s let me tell you now, Start em’ young.

Kids are like sponges when they are in their toddler years and are eager to learn. Use this time to teach them on how to contribute to the home, and that even their little part counts! They will love it, trust me. My 1 year old LOVED sweeping and wiping the table. I came to this realization by accident, and then with further understanding I saw that he truly enjoyed being able to help.

Again though, it is never too late to start. Chores are a beginning step to gaining many life skills that will help them succeed later in life. It might be a bit more of a transition period, but once there is a bit of routine it will get easier.

Make Sure Chores are Age Appropriate

Okay so this is a bit of grey area, because children’s abilities vary a bit depending on the child. You know your child, and you know what they are capable of, but don’t underestimate them either. Kids can easily start pitching it from 1 year old.

My little one loves to carry things, so his job when get back from the bakery is to carry the bread into the house. It is a simple task and it is age appropriate for him. Soon he will be able to carry the watering can and help me water the veggie garden. Kids can start contributing from a very young age, it gives them self-confidence.

Chores By Age

These are ideas of chores you could be asking your kids to contribute to the family by doing. I am not suggesting they need to do everything on the list in each category, these are just to help you come up with what will suit your household.

To set your kids up for a job well done, demonstrate to your kids how to do the task correctly a once or twice. Don’t leave them to guess how to do it, this can lead to disappointment on both ends and start the process on the wrong foot.

Demonstrate how you want the chores completed and then make sure to let them know they are more than welcome to ask for help if they forget where something is, or to let you know if something has run out. Open communication is a great skill to work on during this process as well.

Toddler

As with anything in the toddler years, all of these should be done with supervision.

  • Make bed
  • Water plants
  • Dust
  • Wipe Coffee table
  • Sweep
  • Put Dirty Clothes in to Laundry
  • Feed Pets

Early School Years

  • All of the above still are options
  • Set Table
  • Load Dishwasher
  • Dry Dishes
  • Rake leaves
  • Bring in Mail
  • Take Small Trash Bags out

Later School years

  • All of the above still are options
  • Take Trash/Recycling Out
  • Wash Dishes
  • Put Clean Dishes Away
  • Help Prepare Dinner
  • Vacuum
  • Clean Windows/Bathroom/Kitchen
  • Do Laundry
  • Put Clean Clothes Away
  • Put Groceries Away

Teenagers

  • All of the above still are options
  • Mow Grass
  • Shovel Snow
  • Make Dinner Once a Week
  • Help Siblings with Homework

Prepared Environment

Set them up for success by having a prepared set-up for cleaning. Make sure the cleaning supplies are stocked such as paper towels, rags, cleaners, sponges and anything else they might need. If they can go to one spot to get everything they need to complete the job then they are less likely to get hung up and not finish the job.

One great way to do this is to set-up cleaning baskets for each zone of your house. Within each basket will be all the tools required to complete cleaning that zone.

Some examples for what the baskets can contain:

Kitchen & Dining

  • Paper towels / Cleaning Cloths
  • Spray of choice for countertops
  • Floor cleaner
  • Cleaner for scrubbing the sink

Bathroom

  • Paper towels / Cleaning Cloths
  • Spray for countertops
  • Shower/Bath Cleaner
  • Toilet Cleaner
  • Mirror cleaner

Living Room

  • Duster
  • Spray for tabletops
  • Mirror spray potentially

Backyard

  • Outside broom easy to find
  • Dust pan and broom
  • Window cleaner
  • Paper towels / Cleaning cloths

Some items obviously won’t fit in basket such as brooms, mops, and vacuums but if you can have the strategically placed near the areas being cleaned and not hidden in a garage cupboard you kids will have an easier time completing the tasks.

You also might want to adjust some things like putting floor cleaner with the mop and bucket instead of one for each basket, since they will be used in multiple rooms. Then when anyone needs to clean the floor the cleaner is with the items needed for completing the task.

Tip for drying floors faster, get an old towel and have the kids stand on it and “walk” there way across the floor to soak up the majority of water for faster drying times. They will find this loads of fun, and it will speed up the drying process. Win Win!

Expect A Job Well Done

This is an extremely important life lesson that you can teach your children early by showing them the importance of contributing to the family. Expecting a job well done doesn’t mean “perfection” , but it means that they should be able to have pride in their work.

So often these days kids are given so many tasks at school and in various organizations they are only expected to do enough to “complete” it. This is quite unfortunate, because we are building a society of “good enough”, but not necessarily good enough to be proud of.

Why You Need to Expect a Job Well Done

Chores being completed well at home is an opportunity to teach your children to have pride in their work for completing task properly. If they are going to do something, do it well. You do not need to be coming back and fixing what they missed (this is aimed more for children 5 and older), because then it undermines their effort.

Why should they do a good job, if mom or dad is just going to go back over it anyways?

If they clean the dishes, expect them to get all the food residue off pots and pans. If they happen to miss something, kindly show them what they missed and have them rewash it. Think of it as feedback, not criticism. Then next time they will make sure to improve and double check they got all the bits. This is a life skill, learning to improve on your own skills.

The Long Term Benefit of this Skill

No one likes half-done jobs, and as parent’s we shouldn’t be reinforcing our kids to only put in half the effort towards something. There are some things from old fashioned times that are worth passing on, and teaching kids to do chores and do them well is one of those things.

They will take this work ethic to their first jobs eventually, and if they are someone who does things well the first time they will be noticed. Trust me, after listening to many employers now days the teens that aren’t on their phones between tasks and do a job well are noticed QUICKLY. Help your kids be one of those noticed by their boss by starting early and expecting them to do jobs well at home.

Show Appreciation

This is the number one secret to getting your kids to do chores, and to do them well. Show appreciation for their contribution to the family home. Now, let me clarify something real quick. Showing appreciation is NOT giving them a reward for completing the tasks.

Yep, read that again. Showing appreciation is NOT about your kids expecting something in return. Being a part of the family means everyone needs to chip in, but that does not mean they need to be given money or other rewards for doing chores. That can be saved for special extra projects around the home such as washing the car, cleaning the whole garage together one weekend, or emptying the fridge and cleaning all the shelves.

Research has consistently found that rewards undermine intrinsic motivation for completing tasks. Instead, you want to teach them to do it for the satisfaction of being a contributing member of the family.

There is a time and place for giving your kids an opportunity to earn some spending money. Doing the normal chores to keep your home running smoothly is not that time. Because one day they move out, and there will be no “rewards” for getting normal household chores done.

How to Show Appreciation

Easy thing to do first, say “Thank you for your all your effort today”. Give them verbal reinforcement that you noticed their efforts to chip in today. When they are young, giving them a high-five or cuddle along with verbal reinforcement will really make them feel like their work is noticed and appreciated.

If your partner wasn’t home when they completed the tasks, use this opportunity when they get home to tell them when your kids are nearby that the kids really made the house look great today.

Showing your kids that your gratitude about their input to the family home and are not just giving them a “to-do” list will create a strong sense of respect in your parent-child relationship. This respect will make it much easier to get your kids to start doing chores without much hassle.

To Wrap it Up

While chores are not necessarily considered “fun” , they are the building blocks for many important life skills. At some point everyone needs to know how to do their own laundry, cook a meal, and wash the dishes. It is also not your job as parents to become slaves to your children, they are a part of the household and need to pitch in too.

Gaining a sense of pride in their efforts and creating a sense of respect from appreciation of their effort will greatly benefit your family as a whole. These old fashioned values are what made family’s so strong during some of those most difficult times. Learning to work together as a family is a great value that you can pass on to your children, so get started and strengthen your home.

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Tips on Getting Kids to Do Chores at Home