Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Chores: Moving Your Kids from Dependence to Independence

Years ago I sat in a group of moms having a conversation about housekeeping. They fussed and sighed, " It takes so long to even load the dishwasher properly!"  I sat, pretty much mute. At some point it became clear that I didn't have a mechanical dishwasher.  One woman looked at me and blurted out incredulously, "You don't have a dishwasher?!!"  I replied, "Sure I do!  I gave birth to four of them and they all work pretty reliably  - unless they have a cold or the flu."

Our family's stance on chores is simple:  If you can toddle, you can tote.  As soon as you can walk, you become an official member of the "happy helper club."  This exclusive club comes with a lot of perks!  You get "happy helper snacks."  You receive a weekly allowance beginning at age 5.  You get "high-fives" for a job well done.

Chores help move children from a position of dependence to independence.  Guiding your children in a systematic way through increasing levels of personal sustainability also guards against feelings of entitlement.  If Mom does all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry, when they are 18 they continue to rely upon Mom to fulfill what they now consider to be her God-given role as their provider.  In short, they adopt an attitude of entitlement.

So, what can your kids do and how early in life can they do it?  Here is a list of chores and the ages at which we taught our children each chore.

AGE 2 -5

  • Matching and folding socks
  • Dusting baseboards and furniture legs
  • Cutting bananas with a butter knife
  • Emptying small garbage cans
  • Sorting plastic lids and matching them up with their containers
  • Helping cook by dumping pre-measured ingredients into the bowl or pot
  • Collect laundry and help sort the darks and lights into separate piles
  • Helping Mom load the washer or dryer
  • Putting toys away on the toy shelf or toy basket
  • Putting laundry in the hamper
  • Folding small towels and washrags
AGE 6 - 10

(These are the ages in which I do a LOT of training.  They begin with a lot of supervision at age 6 and become fairly proficient by age 10 at most household tasks.  Use your discretion). 

  • Setting the table
  • Clearing the table and scraping plates
  • Feeding pets
  • Watering plants 
  • Help rake yard (My older boys were being paid by neighbors to do this by age 10 and 12!)
  • Help Dad or older sibling wash vehicles
  • Weeding (with supervision so they pick weeds and not baby vegetables) 😏
  • Vacuuming the edges of rooms with a handvac
  • Cleaning up messes (unless it involves broken glass)
  • Helping with meal planning and grocery shopping
  • Drying dishes and putting dishes away in cupboards
  • Washing dishes
  • Help put groceries away
  • Doing laundry independently (by age 9 or 10!)
  • Making the bed daily
  • All household dusting except high shelves
  • Help make meals
  • Organize drawers, closets, and bookshelves (with help from older siblings)
  • Properly folding ALL laundry items
  • Cleaning room (with supervision)
  • Take out the trash     

Children should master the skills listed above and be able to do these additional chores:  
  • All Dusting
  • All vacuuming
  •  Preparing easy recipes and meals
  •  Cleaning the bathroom
  • Cleaning the kitchen
  • Shoveling snow
  • Mowing the lawn (My older boys had neighborhood lawn mowing jobs)
  • Cleaning their room
  • Stripping bedding, laundering, and then placing the bedding back on the bed
  • Wash and wax automobiles (generally as a group in a mix of older and younger siblings)
These are all, of course, just my suggestions.  They don't represent a complete list or the "right" way to do things.  They are a representation of how chores worked in our home.  The focus should be on teaching your children how to do the work that it takes to run a household efficiently.  In addition, you will be teaching your children valuable life lessons, like how to keep working when a task is difficult, how to ask for help if they are confused, how to work as a part of a team, and how to do a job with a spirit of excellence.

Watch for next week's post:  I'll take you step by step through how we trained our children on chores.  

What has been your experience with children and chores?  Did I miss anything on my list?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Do all to the glory of God,


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