PARENTING

What chores do you give your kids?

Growing up, my siblings and I had loads of chores. Beyond the usual daily chores, my dad even assigned bigger project-based chores for us to do, especially in the summer time when we were home from school. He believed we should be kept busy working and helping around the house.  We were given chores like weeding the flowerbeds, watering the trees, washing the car, and sweeping the garage, etc. My dad also had a ‘do it right the first time or you’ll do it all over again policy’, so we didn’t dare put in half the effort. If we were given a chore, we knew we had to do it well. As a child, of course I found this incredibly annoying, but looking back on it, I think it instilled good work ethic and an appreciation for the work/play balance. While we found it really tedious to pull weeds in the vegetable garden on a hot summer’s day, we enjoyed the feeling of being finished and getting to go for a swim in our grandparents’ pool after the chores were done.

Another thing about chores is that it gives your kids a sense of responsibility.  For example, it’s Marlow’s job to empty the dishwasher every morning.  She is so proud of the fact that this is her task and she is ‘the best’ at it.

Not only do I think it’s important for kids to have chores, I also think it’s the secret to having a big family and keeping a tidy house. Everyone helps out. Many hands make light work. 

I was chatting to a friend the other day about the chores we have in our house. I told her about how our kids have to wash out their own lunch boxes when they get home from school every day. She reminded me that the lunch boxes could just go in the dishwasher. ‘I know,’ I replied, ‘but I like that they have a chore they have to do when they get home from school, and I like that I don’t have to worry about how their lunch boxes get cleaned!’ While I am generally a pretty relaxed parent in the sense that my kids are often playing on their own without my constant supervision, I suppose I am a strict parent when it comes to chores, rules and manners. I get it from my parents. : )

Here are some of the normal daily chores we have in our family. (I’m so curious to hear what chores you give to your kids!)

  • Make beds every morning
  • Wash and dry lunch boxes after school every day
  • Empty the dishwasher every morning (Marlow’s job)
  • Take out the rubbish and recycling bins when they’re full
  • Help me hang the laundry on the drying line
  • Put folded laundry away into closets
  • Set the table (this is usually Ivy’s chore)
  • Clear plates from the table after every meal
  • Wash dishes/load the dishwasher after dinner (this is usually the boys’ chore)

Please share your thoughts. Do you give your kids chores? From how early on? And any good chores I’m forgetting about? ; )

Courtney x


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Comments (32)

Stacy simpson
August 24, 2017

Great post. I don’t know many parents who give their children chores. I have done for a while now as want the children to earn their pocket money (about £1.50 per week). I want them to understand that if you want something you have to earn it and also the value of money- the chores are a means to this.


Courtney in Australia
August 24, 2017

Oh you’ve raised an interesting point and one I meant to bring up. We don’t give our kids pocket money, but I think it’s such an interesting idea — and perhaps it helps to give them an idea and concept of money (earning and spending it). For us, I think the daily normal chores would be ones we wouldn’t pay for, but perhaps the bigger projects could be for pocket money? xx


Esther in Amsterdam
August 24, 2017

My kids have roughly similar chores to yours. Including cleaning, drying and putting aways their lunch boxes! Another chore I like to give them is the sorting of socks! xx


Courtney in Australia
August 24, 2017

Haha! That is one nice thing about living in Byron. No socks to sort! 😉 xx


Anna
August 24, 2017

I’m all over chores to, probably for the same reason: my upbringing. My eldest two unpack their lunch boxes, stack and unpack the dishwasher, lay and clean the table before/after meals, hang, sort and put away laundry and maintain tidy rooms. I think it helps to start young – even my 15 month old daughter knows about packing away toys and books after emptying the shelf or basket 😂


Anna
August 24, 2017

Additionally they love washing the car!!


Pippa
August 24, 2017

What a gift you are giving your children Courtney. My two children help out to, including cooking. I have been studying this past year and my thirteen year old has been incredible with stepping up from her usual one night a week meal to sometimes a few nights a week. They also make their own beds, empty lunch boxes, stack and unstack the dishwasher, and have to clean their bathroom and empty their bins and laundry basket on a Saturday morning. It is incredibly important to me that they do this as I was raised never doing anything! To let an eighteen year old out into the world with no life skills other than breathing oxygen is truly not helpful. I know my gorgeous mother had her own reasons for doing this that made sense to her, but I do think it helps children in so many ways including raising their self esteem when they are able to do all these wonderful things. Love Pippa x


Lara in London
August 24, 2017

I love this! And I completely agree, we grew up the same way. My mom said that once we could reach the washing machine on a step stool, we could do our own laundry (it was a top loading machine). And we have begun chores with our 4 year old including a family 10 minute tidy up time before bed every night. Start them young!


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Jess
August 24, 2017

Loved reading this, Courtney! I am struggling at the moment with my six year old daughter as she constantly argues with us when given a job to do around the house. She is the eldest and her brother is not yet two, so she feels it’s unfair she has chores and he doesn’t. Did you have a similar issue with your eldest when he was younger? Or do I just have a defiant one on my hands 😉


Courtney in Australia
August 24, 2017

Thanks for your comment and question, Jess.
I didn’t have as big of an age gap with my first two. They are only 22 months apart, and I think I started them doing chores around the same time. I remember giving them projects they both had to do together.
I think in your case, because of the age gap, you might just have to convince your 6-year-old to help out despite the fact that her brother doesn’t yet have to do chores? For example, we try to explain to our kids that we spent time making their dinner, so they can help out and do the dishes. Or… we spend time every morning making their lunches, so they can help to clean out their lunch boxes. I think it’s good for them to appreciate the amount of work we as parents are putting in and that it’s helpful for them to do something in return? Just some thoughts…. obviously it’s so different in every family. x


bibi
August 24, 2017

I often ask myself when to really begin with chores. My eldest is 4 and I have 2years old twins. They help out now and then, but there is no rule or repetition. How old is Marlow?


Courtney in Australia
August 24, 2017

Marlow will be 5 in November. She started helping with chores while we were travelling last year. I remember giving her chores like sweeping out the camper van or helping me to tidy the table before dinner. She wasn’t very good at it, and it actually meant a bit of extra work for me, but I do think it’s good to get them into a routine of helping out. And now she is pretty good at doing the chores she’s given. x


Ann
August 24, 2017

We don’t have a dishwasher any more so my 5 and 7 year old take turns every night of hand washing after dinner. Either one will wash or clear and wipe down the dinner table. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old too. All the children except the baby are expected to keep the house clean and tidy (no cleaning lady visists here!) They have to pick up everything off the floor at night time before the irobot is turned on and its a treat for whoever gets to press that button. They love it! They wash walls and doors on saturday mornings and always afterwards we go out for a fun day at the end. 4 kids means we all have to do something to make this place manageable.


Caroline
August 24, 2017

We had a planning with the chore of everyone (set the table, …) and then everyone had to clean and tidy his own room (hoover,…) everyweek. Always boring but no we’Ve all good manners and organised.


Dania
August 24, 2017

Love this post you doing well and I really want to stick to rulls but sometime I thought he’s still young 3years old, what do you thing !!


Kate
August 24, 2017

I love this Courtney. And as our family is about to expand again, I’m wondering how you organize and separate the chores. Do you have a chart of some sort or are these just known chores that the kids do daily and know their responsibilities? Just wondering how to start and execute these chores. Thanks! Kate


Beth
August 24, 2017

I am a Montessori teacher, we encourage independence at a young age there are some great articles on the web that describe age appropriate chores. When I was raising my children they were required to do chores that were part of the daily maintenance of the household. We also had a list of chores with various amounts of money they could earn attached to them e.g. mowing the lawn, washing the car, cleaning windows staking firewood etc. We paid for necessities, their money was for extras. I hope this is helpful.


KD
August 24, 2017

Our son is three (almost four) and is about to become a big brother. We started to give him chores about six months ago … similar to your families Courtney – unpacking the dishwasher every morning, taking dirty clothes downstairs and clean ones back up, taking his bedroom blinds down of an evening before bed and up in the morning, always taking his finished plate to the kitchen.. etc. we had to make a conscious and consistent effort to make sure it has stuck with him – but six months later, I think he’s really grown in confidence and become more aware and proud of himself since taking on the tasks. Needless to say, sometimes we do need to continually remind him about his responsibilities and often it feels like nagging (repeatedly asking for the task to be completed), however, we’ll persevere, because I agree that it’s really important for children to recognise how a family work together to achieve the balance of a happy home. I love reading your posts and share a lot of them with friends. Lovely to see (and not surprisingly), that your children contribute in more ways than one to your beautiful family unit.


Joya
August 24, 2017

We are very similar here in our house. My boys empty the dishwasher, load the dishes, make their own breakfast most days, take out the trash/recycle, sweep the porch, make their beds and pull weeds. My older two boys do their own laundry and all three fold and put away their clothes. My youngest, Ravi, loves folding clothes ha! It is his favorite.
When I was growing up we did many similar chores, although we had a housekeeper who did the daily laundry/cleaning. I think the Montessori education also enforced the care of environment philosophy early on in their preschool days.


Alexandra
August 24, 2017

Our children have to do very similar jobs. In addition to making their beds, they also strip there beds and take sheets down stairs and help hang out laundry.

We give them (age 7&9) pocket money but it is not linked to the jobs. Instead of giving actually giving them the money each week we write it down in a book like a bank account. When they want to spend money they deduct it in the book and we give it to them. It has really taught them the value of money. Recently at the summer fete they turned down a go on the bouncy castle as apparently it was a real waste of money if they had to spend there own!


Sam
August 24, 2017

Hi,

Chores for kids are so important.

I grew up in a controlling environment and begged for chores. I argued the point enough to earn the right to clean my room and gave up every Sunday afternoon to it. I was neither praised nor rewarded for my efforts. I remember how that felt and how I decided to never let that happen to my children.

My oldest who is now four has daily chores (making the bed, putting laundry away, setting out her uniforms the night before, tidying toys away) and my 2year old son puts his pencils and books away and today I saw him lift and put back the craft table chair that had tipped over.

I don’t think I could emphasise the importance in chores for children enough. Chores build confidence and independence, teaches key life skills and establishes team work with siblings which not only strengthens they’re relationship but helps them go on to nurture future relationships!

Par excellence Courtney! xx


Kosima
August 24, 2017

I love this idea! I myself never had any chores to do at home because my mother always thought that we kids haveenough work at school. But that did not help me a lot in real life. I also never really learned to be good with handeling money. So I find it interesting, that you don’t give your kids pocket money yet. All of our friends in Germany give their kids pocket money from a ver young age. My six year old doesn’t yet but we somehow felt forced to start with it this year so that she can learn how to handle money (which is what everybody says). Anyway, I would love to know at which age you started to give them chores. Is it too early for a three year old? Thanks for this post. A really good one!


Esther
August 25, 2017

Love it…so inspiring and it makes me think that I need to do a better job at it. May I ask an honest question? How do you deal, any of you ladies, with a typical backlash from kids? Meaning, if they say “Not now”, “I don’t want to!”, etc. Mommatyer how great kids are, I feel that natural hormones and devlopment come whether we like it or not at certain ages. My boys just turned nine, no hormones yet, but I can sense a bit of attitude at times! Do you ladies have experience with attitudes, in regards to chores? Love, Esther


Courtney in Australia
August 26, 2017

Hi Esther,
Thanks for your comment and question. I have 12 and 10-year-old boys and I definitely get the attitude from time to time, especially with our eldest son. We’ve had to start putting some rules in place which limit the fun activities he gets to do until the chores are done. For example, my boys know they can’t leave for school until their bed is made, their curtains in their bedroom are pulled and their room is tidy. They don’t like being late for school, so they know they have to tidy their room right when they wake up. Sometimes our eldest will ask if he can go to the skate park after school and, if the garage is a mess, I’ll explain that he can’t go until the garage is tidy. My husband refuses to make lunch for children who haven’t washed their lunch box. Just last week, our eldest had to go to school without lunch because he had been asked so many times to wash his lunch box and he kept putting it off, and when it came time for Michael to prepare lunches and his wasn’t ready, Michael just decided that if he went without a lunch one day, he’d surely not forget to wash his lunch box again! We try to explain that this is a family, and there are a lot of us, and we all have to do our part in order for everything to run smoothly. x


Morgan Thrall
August 26, 2017

We are big on sharing responsibilities with our kids as well! I think that it can give them a sense of pride of being apart of a family and contributing to it, even from a young age.
My children (ages 18 months and not quite 3) help with sorting laundry, watering the plants, dusting with a sock on their hand, clean up if they spill food or a drink, and its their responsibility to make sure their toys and books all get put away.

I love this resource for a list of age appropriate chores: http://familyroi.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Family_ROI_Age_Appropriate_Chores.pdf


Lena
August 26, 2017

Interesting. Especially not going to school until you do something…that can come in handy for a teenager on certain school days 😛


Courtney in Australia
August 26, 2017

Except for the fact that my kids LOVE school! 🙂 But I agree, I would have to change that rule if they ever started turning that one on us. Haha. x


Helena
August 29, 2017

Interesting post. We have 8 children ranging from (13 down to 6 months – Clementine was born a week before Wilkie!). We run a tight ship with chores as we live on a large farm and expect them to help. I believe it gives the children an important sense of responsibility. We have daily ‘kitchen duty’ which each child over 6 years has a day of. The children preferred it this way as they have one day of 3 meals to assist with and clear away but are then rewarded with 5 days off! We have daily ‘zone tidy’ which is usually the lounge and playroom. Then kids each have weekly zones such as bin emptying, hoovering and tidying their rooms, cleaning the car, mowing the lawn, mopping floors, tidying shoe cupboards. It all works very well. They are rewarded each week with £2 pocket money for their efforts. The cleaning charts are on the kitchen wall so it is easy to see who’s day it is.


Jaime
November 8, 2017

Hi Courtney, Would you mind sharing your kids’ ages? I have a 7,5 and 3 year old who do zero chores and I’m inspired to start them on a plan.


Courtney in Australia
November 8, 2017

Hi Jaime,
My kids are 12, 10, 8, nearly 5 and a baby. I think your 7 and 5 year-olds could certainly take on small chores. Even if it’s not really helpful for you, it will get them in the habit of helping and they’ll start to take pride in the little tasks they do.
x


Greta
November 15, 2017

Hi Courtney,
I think it’s great to give kids small chores around the house. However, my husband and I have not started doing that early and now, when we try to involve our 5-year-old in household tasks, he fiercely objects! The lawyer in me feels a certain level of professional admiration for how well he argues but the mom in me is truly not happy. How do you get your kids to agree to do the chores? How do you make sure it doesn’t take much longer to convince the kid to do the task than to do it yourself?


Courtney in Australia
November 16, 2017

Hi Greta,
Thanks for your comment and question. It sounds like you have a very smart and stubborn child. Both great things! 🙂
I think I would perhaps ask him what chores he would like to help with? If he feels like he gets a say — like he can choose — perhaps he’ll take ownership of those tasks? I also think it’s not a bad thing to explain to our children how much we do for them and how much we can use their help, etc.
x


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