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Should Kids Have Chores?

Chores teach kids responsibility – or do they? Why you may want to rethink kids’ chores.

BK: Before Kids – My Thoughts on Chores

Before I had kids I was adamant that when I had a family my children would be doing chores around the house like no one’s business. They’d clean, they’d pick up after pets, they’d do laundry, and they’d do it all without complaining.

Oh, the misguided sentiment of a childless 20-something. 

Fast forward to two and a half decades and three kids later and I’ll be the first to admit that the whole blissful chore thing died a quick death.

While I still believe chores are important, over the years I’ve adapted to the reality of family life in this century. It’s a far cry from when I was growing up and honestly, the main problem is probably me.

At the end of the day, I simply don’t have the energy – physical, mental, or emotional – to battle three kids to dust and polish the television stand. Because you see, the funny thing is, kids don’t just gravitate toward doing chores on their own. 

Crazy, right? Who knew?!

Age appropriate chore list

So, instead of cleaning every little thing and expecting perfection from their efforts, my kids have main chores that they do daily and weekly. 

Would I love for them to do more? Of course. 

Would I love to have them do it without complaining? Obviously. 

Do I have the energy to make that all happen? Eh, not so much.

So, daily they rotate through unloading the dishwasher, loading the dishwasher, and feeding the pets/cleaning the litter box. Weekly, they get put on trash taking out duty, vacuuming, and bathroom cleaning tasks. Each child is also responsible for washing, drying, and putting away they’re laundry.

For extra “fun” they can select chores like “wash the windows” and “wipe down the cabinets” from a chore chart app that we use. 

They don’t earn money for the daily and weekly chores, but if they select one of the “bonus” chores from the app they earn a few bucks depending on the tasks they choose and complete.

While it may seem like I’ve given up on the whole dream of having my kids do a lot of chores, I haven’t, but I’ve become more realistic. The ones they have now fit their schedules and they get done without much reminder or fussing. 

Despite the fact that they don’t have many, I still think it’s important for them to have them because chores teach kids a lot of things. And those things will help them become more independent, productive members of society.

Chores for Kids

Chores Teach Kids Teamwork

Chores teach kids about teamwork by creating contributions to the family that they can see. When they vacuum the floor, they see how they have made the living room a cleaner place for all to enjoy. Each of the household chores that they do makes it easier for all of us to live a happier, well-balanced life. 

And when one family member is sick or away and can’t do their chore, they have learned to pitch in to help pick up the slack and the extra chores so that things get done.

Chores Teach Kids Responsibility

In addition to teamwork, chores also teach kids about responsibility. Older children can typically be assigned more involved chores while younger kids have chores that are more geared for their age. 

You can find a complete list of age-appropriate chores here that lists everything that younger and older kids can do. Of course, you should always alter the chore listed if they’re not right for your child.

Chores Teach Kids Time Management

I was talking with a neighbor the other day about chores and she said, “Oh, my kids are too busy to do chores!” Before I entered this stage of my life, I would have thought she was crazy. Too busy to help out?! I don’t think so.

However, now I see how busy my school-aged children are and I completely understand. From drama club practice to job shadowing for a senior graduation project to doctors’ appointments and field trips, the list of activities is seemingly endless. 

But the great thing about chores is that they teach kids time management skills. Instead of heading off to play a video game after dinner, my kids know they have to complete their chores first. 

They have to make sure they fit the chores in around their other responsibilities and obligations because the chores are just as important as everything else. It makes them feel more like part of a team, gives them more responsibility, and helps them manage their time so that they can do the things they want and need to do.

Chores Teach Kids Life Skills

One of the greatest things about chores though is that they teach kids life skills. From everyday household tasks like cleaning and laundry to cooking and pet care, chores can prepare your kids to live independently.

Don’t be afraid to let your kids do their own laundry or help cook meals. By the time they’re teenagers they’ll be able to do those things on their own. After all, you don’t want your college freshman calling you after a week of school asking how to work the washing machine and dryer. Preparing kids for life is just as important as any other subject.

Should Kids Do Chores?

Yes, absolutely, I think kids should do chores and help out around the house. What those chores look like and the quantity that is assigned to each child may be different than what’s appropriate for my kids, but give it a try. Have them help you write that grocery list, cook that meal, and clean the bathroom. 

They can do it. And by believing in them, you’ll give them confidence that they’ll carry with them for life.

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