Thursday, August 18, 2011

Putting Them to Work

I'm not one of those moms who assigns their kids chores for the day or even for certain days of the week.  I like the idea, but I know that if I make a list and display it somewhere either something will come up and disrupt the plan or I'll forget to enforce the schedule/tasks.  So when I need a chore done, I ask a child and expect them to do it.  And, they usually do.

Whenever they give me the line, "But I didn't make this mess!" or "Those aren't my dirty socks!", quick as a wink they get the I-didn't-make-all-these-clothes-dirty-and-use-all-these-dishes-but-I'm-cleaning them-because-I'm-a-part-of-this-family speech, which almost always leads to eye rolling mid-way through the speech as they turn on their heels and start working for fear I'll give them the speech a second time.  It works like a charm.

I often wonder what other parents are asking of their kids.  Are there things that I could be getting my kids to do that I'm missing?  So, I thought I thought it would be fun to do a chore swap.  I'll fill you in on the chore requests that I ask of my kids.  And then, you can do the same.

Sam (age 8): Carries heavy laundry baskets up and down stairs, takes compost to the chickens, helps Miriam use the potty, retrieves items from the garden, pours water at meal time and helps clear dirty dishes after meals, cleans up toys, straightens his room, puts his clean laundry away.

Sadie (age 5):  Uses the dust buster under the table after meals.  Sorts clean laundry into piles and delivers the piles to their proper rooms, puts her and Miriam's clean laundry away, sets the table, cleans up toys, puts clean silverware away, straightens her (and Miriam's) room (they share).

Miriam (age 2): Helps hang (clean) wet socks on drying rack, picks up toys, puts stray shoes in the shoe box, sometimes helps unload the dishwasher.

Now, to the part I've been waiting for.  What do you ask your kids to do (please include their ages)?  Is it more or less than what you were expected to do growing up? Pin It


  1. We have three kids (4, 3, 20months). They all help hang laundry on a drying rack or small (low)line, set the table, required to put their plates into the sink after scraping them into the trash, pick up their toys, and each have their kitchen duty day (even the baby) where they help mama make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they are assigned to two days a week. 4 yr old (girl) folds all her own clothes, and helps clean/scrub along side me. 3 yo. (boy) folds all of the washcloths, and his underwear, he also is expected to clean/scrub alongside me. 20 month (girl) gets to play "clean" with us.


  2. This is gonna be fun,but first can you recite that speech word for word " you live in this family....."1st there is Dan well you did say my kid he's my kid [ all grown up ] but we all live together like the Brady Bunch---NOT, more like the little kids story [ I'm sure you read it to your kids at some point ]" The Brute Family"Dan does most all big jobs and on sat he cleaned out a whole room for Jerry to use as a sterile room [ Jerry is doing good ] I am lucky he left the wood frame around the window because he did not leave any thing else,and only put back mine and Jerry's bed---i have a room in the living room dining area that looks like I just moved in. John my middle son looks after his 2 sons that also live with us than there is Patrick and Richie [ 16&17,my daughters oldest ] living in one room Ricard works so he thinks he is privileged [ BECAUSE HE HAS A JOB AT THE MOVIE THEATER ]so Pat does everything grammpa tells him ,faithfully ,you will hear gram pa go"Pat,get my insulin,will ya"than every week-end my daughter Becca comes [ sometimes stays longer with 6 month old baby buddy [ I REFUSE TO CALL HIM BY HIS GIVEN NAME--HIS NO WHERE TO BE SEEN FATHER'S NAME ] 3 YEAR KATELYNN WHO COMES OVER TO SAY " ARE WE READY FOR HER YET" TORNADO ,AND 10 YEAR OLD Nick THAT'S ALL OF US AND OF COARSE ME TOO the maid-----jk--SORRY THAT WAS A LITTLE LONG

  3. This is a great idea!!! Thanks for sharing. I'll look forward to reading others' too. I decided to share my lists on my blog so I could point others this way!

    You can find mine at


  4. My kids are ages 13 and 12. And just so you know what you can look forward to in a few years...
    By now, they can dust, vacuum, mop, bake, fold and put away laundry, load and unload the dishwasher, mow the lawn, weed in the garden, water plants, set and clear the table, make a few simple meals, get themselves washed, dressed, brushed, etc.
    AND for about a year now, they've been cleaning the bathrooms! Yippee!
    They learned these skills over time, and I still double-check and correct the jobs occasionally. Every day, they have to take care of their own rooms/selves, but also do at least one chore for the home- and they have to do this BEFORE they start to play or chill out. Work comes first. If I also ask them to do something later during the day, they have to do that, too. There are only a few bigger jobs (like heavy yardwork) that come with any pay.
    I am having my kids learn to do these tasks younger than I was taught. I think that's because I want them to get good at them over time, and at the same time I don't want to be a perfectionist. It's more important to me that they get the experience and learn to enjoy (or at least somewhat cheerfully tolerate) doing housework. I want them to get a feel for 'pulling their share of the weight.' The main thing is living as part of a family with a really grateful and grace-filled attitude, helping each other, and not keeping track of who does more, etc.

  5. I LOVE the dustbuster under the table idea! We'll be doing that tonight!
    My 4.5-year-old sets the table, occasionally unloads and sorts silverware, keeps his room picked up and makes his bed. He also has to clean up any messes he makes in the bathroom.
    My 2-year-old keeps his shoes picked up and cleans up toys. He also takes watering the garden VERY seriously.
    I think it's time to step it up a little with my older boy. I'm looking forward to seeing other input!

  6. My kids are grown now, but: the little ones, whenever they were about 2-3: Pick up toys, pick up clothes, hand me socks when I was hanging out clothes, "sweep" the floor with dustpan.

    3 and up washed and dried dishes. 6 and up put them away. 4-5 started helping cook dinner, "watched" babies, let dogs in and out, fed chickens, carried bottles for orphan animals, fed lambs and kids. by 8 were responsible for animals and often trained them. Most learned to shoot a .22 at ages 7-8, with supervision.

    They were fairly independent by about 10. We all shared in household chores and worked together to do the farm chores---it was a big deal to acquire skill because that got you out of some low-skill jobs(carrying water and shoveling poop, mostly.)

    But I'm a single mom. We had to do it together.

  7. We have set daily chores for all and then they also do what I ask them to do. My oldest Shali (16) is a mini-me - she can do everything I do and do it well. She also vacuums twice a week, dishes on her week, cleans a bathroom twice a week, helps with recycling and laundry. Jordan (14) does pretty much the same as Shali, just on different days/weeks. She is also fairly willing to tackle dusting. Paige (10) takes care of the dogs and cats - feeding, watering, and litter changing - as well as the sweeping of floors and dishes on her week. Dane (6) takes care of bathroom & living room trash cans, vacuuming the office, & feeding the fish. All are expected to help with setting & clearing the dining table and do other chores as I assign. I wasn't expected to do much growing up because I could not do it to my mother's expectations so she would do it herself. I would weed and iron for her though because she did not like those tasks.

  8. I'm lucky if I can get through one day without fighting me about it. How do you get them to do their chores? My lecture doesn't work.. :P
    Anyway, Rebecca, who is 5, is supposed to fold and put away her clean clothes, pick up her room, and help clean the playroom every evening, empty the compost, feed the dog, and I've tried teaching her how to sweep the floor, she doesn't get it yet..
    Meredith, 21 months, doesn't have much for chores yet, but she helps clean up and she loves to put away the clean silverware. She also likes to hand me clothes to hang on the clothesline.

  9. These are the daily chores both must do. I offer plenty of opportunities during the day for them to help out, as well. But chore time happens right after breakfast and they have a chore chart and know exactly what needs to be done without me having to tell them for this time. The rest of the day I just ask for help on a specific task.

    11 yo: clean cat boxes, empty dishwasher, wipe down bathroom daily (I do the bigger clean once a week), sweep dining area, carry trash out to back fence, pick up room daily, haul laundry in for me,

    8yo: empty utensil basket, wipe down kitchen table, feed/water cats, bring in and put away house trash cans 1x week, sweep dining area, pick up room daily.

    There are a few other assigned chores, but these are the ones that are their jobs. We have the help the family out conversation a lot, as well. This is more than I was required to do at this age, but I was cooking 1x a week and vacuuming and doing a lot of the laundry by 13. My oldest does lunch for us 2x a week.

  10. When the children were little {under 6} we did the chores they worked side by side with us... Now at 15 boy, 15 boy, 12 girl and 10 girl they are fully independent with their chores. Friday is "chore" day here, the children change their beds, tidy up their rooms and vacuum. The boys have a fish tank, which they clean on this day also. They also fully clean the bathrooms on their own- We have a schedule for dishes for each meal and sweeping {four jobs, four children per day}- This summer they've helped more with the laundry, laundry is one area we all pitch in on. The boys also mow the lawn and help with the yard work. We've always taught that "chores" are what help this household to function and everyone needs to do their part. If someone is ill or unable to do their assigned work, someone else will just cover for them, no strings attached. I give all the glory and honor to Christ in this area, it is only by His working in each of the children that makes it all work out.

  11. My kids chores are pretty simple.

    Almost 7 year old: Feed cats (in barn), carry out compost, set and clear table, dust, put away own laundry. She's also "in charge" of daily playroom cleanup and does some vacuuming and sweeping.

    4 year old: Feed dogs (near garage), carry out compost, help set table, put own laundry away, help dust, and help clean up playroom.

    20 month old: Feed inside dog and help water plants (with supervision of course!) He's also supposed to help clean up toys but he usually just ends up running around and getting in the way! :-)

  12. I'm not a parent, can I still play? Okay, I'm 16 and here's my list of chores:
    1.Make my bed
    2.Clean my room
    3.Clean my bathroom
    4.Mop the floors
    5.Pick up after myself
    6.Vacuum shelves, floors etc..
    7.Make breakfast 2 times a week
    8.Cook dinner 3 nights a week
    9.Load and unload the dishwasher
    10.Help out mom in the kitchen - chopping up veggies, wiping down counters...that kinda thing
    11.Set the table and clean up after meals
    12.Do my laundry..but I usually offer to do everyone else's cause I like it.
    13.Hang, fold and put away laundry.
    14.Take care of my pets..feed, clean etc..
    That's it basically and I help out my mom whenever she asks me to.

  13. my kids are 4 and 6--almost 5 and 7. Every am before they can come down for bfast, and every night before story at bedtime, their rooms must be picked up. Saves us from a good 3+ hr cleaning whenever company comes. whew! After bfast, they brush teeth, get dressed, unload DW (one is top, the other bottom--they switch each time they unload). 4 yr old takes the recycling out. 6 yr old cleans the 2 bathroom sinks, faucet, and vanity w/ vinegar-water spray. Then both or either will take out compost, and small bags of trash. Daily they both help me collect yummies from the garden, clean up toy messes from the LR &/or outside, clean up after themselves at the table--whether eating or playing playdoh, or making "creations". Every few days, I have them (sort of) vacuum the LR, and about once every 2-3 wks, they vacuum their own bedrooms. They also put away their own folded clothes. And do whatever else is needed--picking up sticks after storms, taking the neighbors' trash or recycling back for them.

    Every now and then, usually when I am making a meal for them, one or both will tell me a chore is "too hard", it "will take FOR-E-VER", or they "don't wanna work". I laugh inside. Then do the same routine--only replacing the chore with how I don't wanna cook, I think it will take for-e-ver, and maybe I should just sit down in my chair and not cook ever again. hahaha--that kills the 4yr old, esp! We do talk at times about how everyone has to do work to help our home run well.

    When I was little--till 9 or so, I was required to do chores. but at some point, my mom gave up, and we were kind of left to be lazy. It's taken me the past 14 yrs to get out of that laziness and lack of care for my home and our family. I want my kids to be hard workers and to push to care for themselves and their families, instead of being selfish and lazy. My kids work hard, but they also get PLENTY of time to play hard!

  14. Q,
    I love having your input/perspective!! Thank you.

    And you all are giving me all kind of ideas (to the dismay of my children)!

  15. I don't use a chore chart either. I know tons of people who swear by them, but they seem like more work for me. And, unfortunately I know myself well enough to know I probably wouldn't be consistent with it.

    My children still do chores though! And, quite often with whining, fussing, complaining, stalling, moping, etc. We're working on that.

    Wyatt (8) - Feeds & waters chickens daily, cleans out chicken water dispenser as necessary, starts laundry or changes it over from washer to dryer as I request, Sets plates & water cups for dinner, helps clear the table after dinner, entertains his youngest brother as needed (quite well too!), places his own dirty clothes in hamper, helps clean up his own messes in his bedroom (shared with Edison) and other parts of the house, other misc. stuff as requested

    Edison (6) - takes yuck bucket to chickens daily & collects eggs, helps to fold towels & washcloths, helps Wyatt change over laundry (sometimes this results in more fighting between the 2 boys), sets the silverware, helps clear the table after dinner, dirty clothes to hamper, help clean up bedroom & other household areas.

    Charlie (3 1/2) - helps his big brother with the chickens, likes to help collect eggs, dirty clothes to hamper, help clean up his bedroom and other areas, helps set & clear table with brothers

    Joseph (1 1/2) - My youngest is still nonverbal but he understands me! When I'm unloading the dishwasher or throwing dirty laundry in the basket, he often likes to hand me something...especially if I say a big 'Thank you!'. He also is starting to help his brothers pick up toys.

    One other note. This summer, my husband occassionally wrote out a small list of extra chores on a piece of paper for the big boys. He comes home for lunch, so the boys knew they had the morning to complete 'Daddy's chores' before he'd come and check to see if they were done. Somehow, this really motivated them. It was from Daddy after all.

  16. Right now, our kids (6 and 8) both handle the same chores. They are expected to fold and put away their laundry each week, clear their dishes and scoop out the catboxes (each child scoops out 2 boxes). They both help in deciding an evening meal menu for the week and then assist in grocery shopping/finding the items/crossing off the list. The 8 year old also feeds the dogs every evening.

    In three weeks (yes, I have an end date now!), when I am home all the time with them I know their chores will expand to help more with cleaning around the house and meal preparation every evening. I'm counting down the days!!!

  17. 12 and 8 year old: These jobs are divided out and alternated monthly: emptying dishwasher and dish drainer, feed/water cat, straighten up bathroom daily, sweep after supper, compost and trash out, supper clean-up with mom.

    They each clean one bathroom, vaccuum weekly, pick up livingroom/kitchen each evening before bed, wash, fold and put away their own clothes.

    The 12 year old also mows and trims the yard.

    4 year old needs more chores! He helps with the bigger kid jobs, but I need to work on getting him up to speed--the third one is hard because it is easier to ask the older ones to do it for him!

    They are expected to do other jobs as asked, as well.

  18. The chores our boys have been responsible for have changed tremendously over the past couple of years due to a change of location. At 15, 13, and 10 they fed the chickens, cleaned out the litter box, cleaned up any dog poop close to the house, fed the animals, helped with dishes (setting, clearing, and emptying the dishwasher), cooked the occasional breakfast, helped fold laundry and put theirs away, used the chainsaw to cut wood, hauled wood, empty/take out ashes, and kept their rooms clean.... we were living in Alaska. Now at 17, 15, and 12 we live on 1/2 an acre with minimal chores..... (i.e. no real outdoor work) The eldest acts as my taxi driver when I need him to pick up one of his brothers if I am unable. They still help with dishes, laundry, clean up/feed the dog, any heavy lifting and mowing. Oh they also clean their bathroom and help cook the occasional meal plus our middle son does a bit of baking as well.

  19. Hello's fun to have a name for you, btw! :)

    I always enjoy it when you ask questions. How wonderful that you are doing these things with your children from a young age. Yes, they *grow with it* and very soon you will be reaping more benefits than you realised were possible.

    My friend (who has 10 children) told me her *system* long ago, which I have adopted. It is simply this ~

    Train each child on the chore(s) you want them to do. That child is always responsible for that/those chore(s). If it is not done well (or not at all), you know who to talk to. They stay on that set of chores for at least a year. That's long enough to become proficient at it, and it also removes the query, who does what and when...all you have to say is *chore time* and they all scatter knowing exactly what to do! :)

    Sampling of the chores done around here ~

    16 yr young man ~ cleans the bathroom (including toilet), washes the dishes and clears out dishwasher

    14 yr young man ~ vacumms the entire house (I never do it) and mows the lawn (previous jobs of 16 yr old)

    12 yr young man ~ sweeps laundry room and outdoor patios, drys dishes

    9 yr girl ~ folds and puts away all laundry, dusts

    All the boys remake their own beds when the sheets are cleaned

    It really is a great blessing to have children helping out with the regular running of the home. You will never regret the time you invest in these things Jane!

    Many blessings,

  20. We have a verrrry laid back chore chart (I did a post on it here It's mainly for learning new skills around the house. When that skill is mastered, it is no longer rewarded with anything and is expected of the child with no grumbling. So far, they each have about 4 jobs on the their chore charts and we work on these when we remember, but their habitual things are usually daily.

    Genevieve, age 5: dust, dry dishes, put away dishes that she can reach, set table, pour water, help clear table, clean up toys every evening, make bed, fold laundry & put away

    Ben, age 3: make bed, bring in empty trash cans, help set table, help clear table, clean up toys every evening, help fold laundry

    I do like your approach of simply expecting the children to be helping hands as members of the family. This is a great post!

  21. One thing I should add...I have a friend who is an amazing single mom. She has her children do chores together, especially if they have been fighting all day. They learn about being a family, working together, and are disciplined for fighting. I can't wait until my boys are old enough to really put this into practice!


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