As I sit here binge-watching Netflix, I think back to one of many days that my then-5-year-old bellowed from his room, “Moooooom! I don’t have any socks!” Until that point, I had pretty much been the main doer-of-all-things around the house, and to be honest, I was fine with that. My husband worked outside the home, I worked from home, and it made sense for me to take care of most of the day-to-day chores. However, on this particular day, I was exhausted. We had just had our first foster care kiddo, a newborn baby boy, quite literally dropped off on our door-step several days before; my 18-month-old daughter was struggling to sleep at night; and now my 5-year-old son had no socks.
As I stood in front of a basket (or three) of clean laundry, trying desperately to find two matching socks, I decided it was time for a change. Since my kids were so little, I wasn’t sure what I should do with them as far as chores went. So, naturally, I turned to the internet. As I researched chores and kids, I came across some interesting information on the benefits of sharing the household responsibilities with family members of all ages. Two of the major benefits of having children do chores are that it teaches responsibility, and it gives them a sense of ownership and pride over their home. Additionally, teaching children age appropriate life skills from an early age prepares them for future success as a teenager and young adult. In fact, a 75+ year Harvard study has found that doing chores as a child was the best predictor of happiness, health, and independence in adulthood. (Yay, science!) As a parent, there are great personal benefits to having your children do chores. First of all, sharing the responsibility for chores means that the work of maintaining a household doesn’t all fall on you. (Of course, this means that you may have to let go of having everything done perfectly, but the long-term payoff is worth it.) When you work together as a family to get the housework done, you will have more time as a family to really enjoy each other! According to the University of Arkansas, here are a few age appropriate ideas for the types of chores your children can do!
Age 2- 4
Put toys away, throw away trash, put dirty clothes in the hamper, carry non-breakable dishes to the sink, and wipe down baseboards, windowsills, and chair seats.
Age 4 – 6
Feed pets, straighten bed/ bedroom, put away clean dishes/ flatware, set and clear the table, and prepare simple snacks. Age 6 – 8 Plan clothes for the next day/ week, put away laundry, sweep/ vacuum floors, rake leaves, prepare basic meals using toaster/microwave.
Age 8 – 10
Fold clothes/towels, load and unload dishwasher, take out trash, prepare school lunch, put away groceries.
Age 10 – 12
Change bed linens, do laundry, use oven/stove with supervision, clean kitchen/bathroom, mow the lawn.
Wash/vacuum car, shop for groceries with a list, cook a complete meal, babysit younger siblings.