Everyone loves household chores – or do they?

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. These involve no extra cost to you, but may result in me receiving a small commission – for which I am very grateful! Learn more here

One of the hardest things about maintaining a household, especially with kids involved, is how to get everything done with only 24 hours in the day. I’m often asked: how do you manage to work, raise your children, maintain your home, and also spend time blogging? I’m not going to lie, sometimes it’s really hard, but as I’ve said before: when the whole family gets together and helps out, it lifts the load a bit.

Many of you might be quick to say that my kids are older than yours (they are nine and eleven) but I don’t think that’s an excuse. Every kid, once they start walking (and some even before), can be helpful in maintaining the living space of the home.

Stick with me here – I will explain.

Tip: Don’t let household tasks overwhelm you. Grab my FREE Weekly Cleaning Checklist to keep you on track! Find it HERE.

Everyone Loves Household Chores – Or Do They?

I’m not saying that they dirty a dish at dinner time and are responsible for taking care of the dishes that night. I’m talking more about if they break their crayons all over the house, they are able (probably not willing) to go collect them or, if they dump their toy box, they can get it all back in there. Will your child need assistance doing this? If they are young, then the answer is probably yes. At any age, though, you will likely find they can actually take care of it after a few redirects. And next time, they might be able to do it without redirection.

I, personally, always find that meal times are a huge incentive to clean things up. For example, I will give the girls a warning that dinner is happening soon, and that they can’t partake until their mess is cleaned up. I highly recommend not waiting until just before bedtime, because no kid wants to go to bed at any age, so they will likely prolong the process each night.

In addition to tidying up their own messes, each child should be able to take care of an “age appropriate” chore and do it really well.

Each Kid has their Own Strengths

When my girls were four and five, my oldest asked why I never matched socks. Truth be told, I hate matching socks and always have. I told her that they didn’t get done because it wasn’t my priority, however, if she wanted matched socks, she could definitely do it herself. Turns out that matching socks meant something to her, because with very little instruction she made matching socks an art form in our home, and it’s something she still does to this day!

Her younger sister made a comment at one point that my room was a mess and she just wanted to tidy it up. I let her do it and she really surprised me with her cleaning ability!

Let your kids find their strengths – they will have them – and in the process, they have the opportunity to contribute to the maintenance of the household and, hopefully, reduce the stress level of all involved. It’s not always easy to determine what a child’s strength is going to be when it comes to housecleaning, but I will say that the earlier you start, the more likely the task will seem fun and doable rather than “chore-like”.

Everyone Loves Household Chores

Two to Three Years

This is a questionable age as far as household tasks go. Kids at this age are increasingly destroying your home, with no regard for how to put it all back in order when they are done. I’d like to recommend at this age that you require your child to help you clean up any mess they might have made. If they are walking and able to get the toys out from wherever they are stored, then they should be able to help you put them back as well. This doesn’t alleviate your workload, but is a training tool for your child and will make your life easier in the future.

Four to Five Years

My niece and nephew are going to be four years old next month and they love to help. Granted, there are days (and moments!!) that, like any almost four-year-olds, they don’t want to participate in parent/aunt directed activities. Overall, though, when given a task that seems “grown up,” they want to get it done with great excitement.

The suggestion for this age is to find something they can do (and master) that won’t involve breaking things. Start by allowing them to use a microfiber cloth and dust the windowsills or baseboards in your home. You can find very inexpensive microfiber cloths in fun colors and patterns, and if those baseboards don’t get cleaned to perfection, then only you will know.

Another task might include giving them a washcloth with vinegar and having them wipe all of the light switches or doorknobs. Not only do they get the fun of wiping a wet rag all over the walls and doors, but you get germ free light switches and doorknobs.  It’s a win-win situation if you ask me.

Six to Eight Years

This age group is ready to help with more difficult chores. They are able to put their silverware, glasses, and plates in the dishwasher after dinner, and can assist with setting a table (with instruction, of course). Adding a scoop of food to the cat’s bowl, and putting their laundry from the laundry basket to the washing machine are also great tasks. Pay attention to what your child does well at this point. My youngest was well versed in cleaning a bathroom (without harsh chemicals) and folding shirts and towels before she could tie her shoes. No matter what task she took on, though, I always made sure she could do it well before I let her try something different. Repetition is key to success.

The following chart has some additional, recommended tasks for this age group. Always keep in mind your own child’s strengths. Don’t hold them back from greatness but also, don’t push them if they aren’t ready. It’s that fine balance that comes with parenting each individual child.

Nine to Twelve Years

My girls fall into this age group and, let me tell you, willingness to participate in household tasks varies greatly from day to day and even hour to hour. I do require it of my girls, and they rise to the occasion, even if it sometimes takes a little more motivation on my part. (This is where getting tasks done before a meal is a good incentive.)

Once again, the chores you assign your child need to be age-appropriate, as well as kid appropriate. If your child has a hard time paying attention to detail, then be more attentive to the chores they are required to do, and instruct them (even repeatedly) in the correct ways to complete them. By insisting that your child contributes to the family environment while requiring that they do it to a certain standard, you are teaching your child life-long skills that will benefit them well into adulthood. It might be easier to do the task yourself, but I highly recommend that you require participation from each member of the household.

Another option to achieve some buy-in on the part of your kids is to make a list of household tasks that need to be completed and let them pick from that list. They might not like the task, but if they see it in comparison to something they prefer even less, then they may just do it with a happier heart.

Thirteen to Eighteen Years

Welcome to the teen years! It’s the time of your child’s life that they want the least to do with home and family (typically) and the most to do with anything that has to do with their own selfish desires. They are being influenced heavily by their peers and are constantly comparing not only themselves, but their family life, school abilities, and privileges, to those of their fellow students. In the early teen years, you will often hear a lot about other people’s “cooler” parents, their peers not having to do as much (or anything!!) around the house, and you being unreasonable. Hang in there, they will get over it.

Everything you have taught your child about responsibility and commitment up to this point should trickle into their teen years. It’s critical to start young because once you have reached this point, there’s not a lot of extra training that will take place. As I said before, it might be easier to forgo the argument and simply do the task yourself, but I beg you not to do that at this age. Teens need to be held accountable for the tasks asked of them, right down to dealing with consequences when those tasks aren’t completed. They might not like it now, but I guarantee you they will appreciate it as they get into college, jobs, and even have families of their own.

Teens should be able to pick from, or be assigned, any household task an adult would typically take care of. Granted, repair work and anything dangerous should be excluded from this list. Older teens might be able to babysit younger siblings, provide carpool assistance, and make dinners occasionally. Younger teens might be able to assist their siblings with homework help and vacuum the house. Once again, assign tasks based on your child’s abilities. Just because Bobby is capable of something, doesn’t mean that Susie is as well.

Life is simpler when everyone helps

The takeaway from this: everyone should contribute to the household. Sometimes it seems easier as parents to simply do it ourselves, and yet, our children need to learn how to do these simple tasks; they have to be able to follow through when directions are given. Learning responsibility starts in the home and should start early.

Ultimately, the end result should be that your child can take care of at least one “age appropriate” chore. Give them one task that they are always responsible for and require them to do it well. I don’t know about you, but my family is always much happier each person contributes.

I hope these ideas get you thinking over the next couple of weeks! Have an awesome day!

Tip: Don’t let household tasks overwhelm you. Grab my FREE Weekly Cleaning Checklist to keep you on track! Find it HERE.