I’m often asked by frustrated moms for a list of chores that kids can do. Not surprisingly, these requests spike during summer vacation when many kids think that every moment of their day should be full of fun activities. Mom, meanwhile, often finds that “vacation” means twice as much work for her.
Pardon me while I push my bifocals a bit higher on my nose and get that cranky old woman look on my face.
Back in my day…
I guess you could say that I’m old-school. Back in my day, we didn’t have iPhones and PlayStations and the interwebs to keep us busy all day, every day when we weren’t in school. We had sticks and, if we were lucky, maybe a rock to play with.
Okay, I’m kidding about that last bit, but we really only had three decent channels to watch on TV — unless we got to hang out at the home of a friend with wealthy parents. If you wanted something new to read you had to hop on your bike and ride to the local library. Of course, you might stop at the park on your way to hang out with friends for a bit, but only until the streetlights came on — they were the universal signal to kids everywhere that it was time to get home.
These days, of course, most parents are terrified of letting their kids ride past the end of the block, much less hang out at the park unsupervised until dark. So the kids are home playing online, watching TV, and texting their friends all day, every day, unless their parents have planned some activity for them. Once school starts, kids get busy with homework and extracurricular activities and so do their parents, who wind up schlepping them to everything.
Chores Teach Life-Skills
Do you see what’s missing here? CHORES!
Out of 1,001 adults surveyed in the U.S. by Braun Research, 82 percent reported having regular chores and duties while growing up, but only 28 percent said that they require the same of their children, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Yes, it’s important for kids to have fun and enjoy their childhood. It’s important for them to play and explore, to socialize with peers, and to be exposed to a variety of activities and settings. But it’s just as important that they learn life skills. And do you know how they learn them? CHORES!
Pitching in around the house teaches kids the basics of cleaning, organizing, and even cooking — all things they’ll need to do for themselves one day. They don’t suddenly learn such things the day they turn 18 and move out of the house.
They learn them by having to do them while they’re younger, with parents around to help explain the steps involved and show them how to correct any mistakes they made. Seriously, you do not want your kid trying to learn how to run a dishwasher or broil a fish in the oven for the first time in their own apartment. That’s how floods and fires start, people.
Beyond just the how-tos of doing chores, kids who do chores also learn the work-ethic that is critical to their future success. Having chores that must be done before hanging out with friends, watching TV, or playing video games teaches kids that they must fulfill their responsibilities to earn their free time. Kids who grow up doing chores at home learn the skills they need for success in college and their early careers, get along better with others, and are more self-sufficient adults.
Besides, giving kids chores to do lets Mommy take a much-needed break!
Chores That Kids Can Do
Keep in mind that the older kids grow, the more chores they’re capable of doing. So, in addition to those listed under their age group, they should have mastered the tasks from earlier years.
Put dirty towels in the hamper.
Help make beds.
Pick up dirty clothes and put them in the hamper.
Pick up toys, books and games.
Wipe smudges off of doors.
3 to 5 years Old
Dust cold air returns.
Dust mop the floor.
Dust picture frames.
Feed the pets.
Empty the bathroom trash can.
Clean their room with help.
Strip bed linens.
Shake out the Welcome Mat.
Shake out the car’s floor mats.
Basic food prep (wash produce, tear lettuce)
Set the table.
Sort and roll/fold socks.
Stack magazines neatly.
Straighten and fluff sofa pillows.
6 and 7 Year Olds
Straighten book shelves.
Sort the recycling.
Vacuum edges of rooms with the crevice tool.
Wash pet food bowls.
Wipe bathroom sinks
Use vacuum attachment under beds.
Polish front door knob and kickplate.
Help carry in groceries.
Clean spills in the refrigerator.
Clear the table after meals.
Neatly stack food storage containers and their lids.
Run the sweeper on the kitchen floor after dinner.
Unload the dishwasher.
Wipe appliance fronts
Wipe cupboard fronts.
Move clothes from washer to dryer.
Help hang freshly-dried clothing.
Sort laundry by colors.
Ages 8 and 9
Help hang freshly-dried clothing.
Sort laundry by colors.
Collect garbage from every wastebasket in the house.
Water house plants.
Wipe down bathroom sinks and faucets.
Clean their room on their own.
Put clean sheets on beds.
Get trash out of the car.
Clean the microwave.
Help cook meals (mix ingredients, cut vegetables, etc.)
Help put away groceries.
Put junk mail through the shredder.
Take out the kitchen trash.
Sweep front walkway.
Ages 10 to 13
Clean smudges on the inside of windows.
Sweep/vacuum dusty window screens.
Vacuum entire rooms.
Polish bathroom mirrors.
Sweep/hose off deck or patio.
Wash patio/deck furniture.
Ages 14 and Up
Clean any room in the house.
Clean ceiling fans.
Plan grocery list.
Do weeks’ shopping.
Mow yard independently.
Babysit for other people for money.
Make Mommy’s martini
Okay, that last one I’m not willing to trust my teenager with just yet, but my college graduate daughter should have it down any day now!
Ready for the Printable?
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Note: This entry was originally published on June 4, 2012. It has been completely revised and reformatted for republication.