Just a few weeks ago, we were getting ready to go play with some friends and as I ran to shower, I told my kids that we needed to do some chores before we left. I couldn’t believe what I saw when I came back from showering. The dishwasher was emptied and they were making their beds! For years, I’ve been pushing through the daily grind, letting them help me and trying to teach them how to participate as part of the family. I’m not holding my breath, but it’s starting to feel like all the hard work is paying off.
I used to think I needed fancy chore charts and the perfect allowance amount. Now I know that all I need is a cheerful attitude and a whole bunch of consistency.
So, be encouraged! Your kids CAN help out and when you train them to help as part of the family, you’re actually doing them a favor because, let’s just admit it—-no one wants to be around a kid who doesn’t have to do anything for himself.
TEN CHORES YOUR KIDS CAN TOTALLY DO
1. Pack simple, healthy lunches and picnics.
One of my favorite things about this time of year is my kids get to start eating outside more, which for me, equals cleaner floors! Kids can easily grab their own snacks and quickly learn how to use a butter knife to make sandwiches and prepare fruit.
Mom Tip: Don’t criticize their mess. They will NOT keep the kitchen as clean as you would. Bite your tongue. Gently teach them how to clean up after themselves. This way you won’t scare them away from trying something new again.
2. Learn how to wash pans and help with the dishes.
Sure, a little water might get on the floor, but a 5 or 6 year old can totally learn how to wash a pan and help with the dishes. It’ll take longer at first, but let’s think long-term here. The sooner you teach them, the less you’ll have to do later.
3. Help set the table.
My kids practically fight over this one. Something about setting the table makes dinner feel extra special to them and if you get creative, there can be a job for everyone. Have one child pass out the silverware and another do the plates. Play some music and make it fun.
4. Wash chairs and stools outside
When the sun comes out, send your kids out with a soapy bowl of water and have them scrub your chairs and stools with a rag. They might not do a perfect job, but they’ll have fun and we all know dirty the dining room chairs get!
5. Help empty the dishwasher
Since my kids learned how to walk, they’ve helped me empty the dishwasher. Before we begin, I always FIRST put the knives away and then I let them hand me each dish. My older two, who are 4 and 6 have started to put everything away, except for the knives, of course. Since they’ve been helping me for a few years, they know where things go.
Mom Tip: Let your kids help you, even if it takes more time and stresses you out. Before long, they’ll be able to do it independently and you’ll have one less thing to do.
6. Clean out the car
When you get home from going somewhere, have your kids bring their stuff in. If they’re old enough to carry it out, they’re old enough to carry it in. Have them do it and stop being so frustrated about all the junk left in the car.
7. Put away their laundry
I wash, I fold and then they put away. Oh no…..their drawers aren’t perfectly tidy, but I’m so thankful they know how to put away their own laundry. At first, you’ll need to patiently teach them how to hang things or if they can’t reach, just have them put the clothes on the hangers and then you can hang them. Don’t expect perfection, but do be consistent.
8. Feed the dog/cat
I don’t think I’ve fed our dog in probably 3 years. Young kids can totally do this.
9. Make their bed
Every morning, I have our kids get dressed, brush their teeth and make their beds. Sure, the beds aren’t perfect, but they’re learning and that’s what matters.
10. Take out the trash
My son, who’s 6 usually does this one. I encourage him by telling him taking out the trash is a “real man’s job”. It only takes him a second and it helps a lot.
The best thing to remember when trying to train your kids to help around the house more is that you DON’T need fancy charts or special rewards. What you DO need is kindness, consistency and an attitude that accepts less than perfect results. Instead of criticizing, smile and say “Nice job! I love how hard you tried!” Trying is what matters, not perfection.