Chores: What is a good age to start?

IMG_0004I have a 3 1/2 yr old and a 1 1/2 yr old. I am not a parenting expert and I won’t pretend to be. I go by experience and not by a prestigious degree. If I had gone to college for a prestigious degree in parenting I would have been laughed at because there is no such thing. So what is a good age to start assigning chores? I have no idea! What I do with our kids is let them help me and encourage their participation in what I’m doing. I’m doing the dishes so I pull up a chair and encourage them to help me wash and rinse dishes. I’m vacuuming, I give them the attachment to get under the couches. I’m sorting laundry, I yell at them to stop messing up my piles. My young children have more of an assist-mommy chore list, but since they are so little they get to do the chore than is best suited for them: Play!

What do you all think is a good age to start chores?

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6 responses

  1. As soon as they’re old enough to mimmic what you do, they’re old enough for “jobs.” Toddlers can do a lot with one of those little hand held vacuum cleaners. They love having control over a real machine and will wear the battery out every time. Also, a little handheld broom and dustpan will keep them busy for a while. Pre-schoolers can put laundry away and empty trashcans and love having charge of a spray bottle full of water and a little dishsoap. The dishsoap is non-toxic so I just give them a rag and put them in charge of all glass and bathroom surfaces because I know for a fact those aren’t my filthy finger prints all over everything! A fun splurge I made was a duster that looked like a skunk. Little ones are the perfect height for attacking all those long-deglected baseboards. Being entrusted with “real jobs” makes a child feel incredibly important and can be a huge confidence booster. They just shine when praised for completing a task. Just remember that the goal isn’t to have a cleaner a house, because they’ll never quite get it to your standards. It’s to develop helpful habits and skills in your kids and to increase their self-confidence through useful contributions to the family. And yes, to keep them busy, even for a moment!

    1. I love what you wrote about the goal isn’t to have a cleaner house. You are teaching life lessons! Thanks for all the great advice. I need to find this skunk duster you speak of! 🙂

  2. You’d think we moms would know how to begin on chores, but I didn’t! When my littles were handing me their coats to hang on the hook for them and leaving their shoes in the doorway, I decided it was time for me to become a bit more chore educated! I had to order a book! 😦 I actually make brushing teeth, making bed, getting dressed, and putting away pj’s part of the little ones’ morning chores everyday (although they don’t really seem like chores). Little ones are also good at setting the table for dinner and clearing the table afterwards. After lots of practice, I still sometimes think it would be easier to do the jobs myself than to train them! It’s like I’m running a little business or factory here! However, it will pay off in the long run… I hope! 😉

    1. I think that is my problem too. It is so much quicker just to do it yourself. Haha, I like how you referred to training kids as a business. We don’t get paid (monetarily speaking) very much for running such a demanding business. 🙂

  3. I’m a neat-freak and don’t like giving them ‘chores’ that make more work for me, so I generally don’t let them help me with dishes yet (gasp!) but that’s a chore that they get to do with daddy occasionally and they are so excited that they are helping daddy do the dishes for mommy. Having said (admitted?) that, I do give them laundry to put in their drawers, make them responsible for picking up their toys after play (which they rarely need to be told to do because since they started playing with toys I usually modelled putting said toy away after play), and they clear their dishes from the table after a meal (your 3 yr-old may be a little young for that). Sounds like you are already doing the best thing though – encouraging them to pitch in appropriate ways with whatever task you are doing – I wish I had the patience to do that a little more often 😉

    1. I think I might need to train mine with the “putting a toy away after you are done playing with it” thing. At the end of the day you can barely walk thru my house because there are sooo many toys everywhere! 🙂 I usually make a path so I can walk without stepping on one. Clearing dishes off the table is good too!

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