It is not too late to organize your family as you seek to have a neat and orderly home. Children of all ages need to know they are valuable to your family by helping.
Giving children chores can make them feel wanted, teach vital life skills — ethics, responsibility, self-reliance, and self-esteem — and help ease the workload for parents. Children are capable of doing much more than parents think. If parents do not expect perfection and help children to know they are part of a team, working together to keep the house clean and neat should not be too much of a challenge.
Doing things with their hands releases “feel-good” brain chemicals that protect against depression. Kids who help at home are more confident, resilient, and compassionate, do better in school, and grow up into more successful young adults. Helping cooperatively to keep house reasonably clean and orderly gives pride to all in the family.
Find a chore your kid loves to do, and start a habit of wanting to help out that’ll last a lifetime. — Catherine Newman
Children of all ages can help around the house. All children can make their beds each morning. Your family can read books about doing chores (goodreads.com/books about doing chores) or sing songs (moms.com) to make doing chores more joyful, but getting the jobs done takes action.
Toddlers like to “copy-cat” older siblings and parents as the way they learn about their world. One of the most exciting things they can do is to help others. Let them dust with socks on their hands or put clothes in the hamper. Make picking up their toys a game or encourage them to play with one toy at a time and put that one away before playing with another.
See The Ultimate List of Age-Appropriate Chores by Robert Myers, Ph.D.
Preschoolers master all the skills necessary to do a job remembered from their toddler days and have better eye-hand coordination to accomplish tasks. They also can follow more complex instructions such as helping to set and clear the table and sorting laundry into colors.
Primary schoolers can learn more physically difficult or complex tasks, such as making bagged or boxed lunches, making their own snacks, putting groceries away, and emptying their wastebaskets into the family trash.
Middle schoolers can do, and be held responsible for, helping without constant reminders. For this age, a chore chart or task list will help children check off work as they complete it without someone looking over their shoulder. This requires trust on the part of parents as well as honesty on the part of the young people.
High schoolers should be expected to do most of the tasks their parents do. They can make meals, deep clean kitchens and bathrooms, and help with modest home and auto repairs, even shop if they have their drivers’ license.
Doing chores together is an investment with the wonderful dividend of spending time together doing a meaningful activity and enjoying and valuing that time.
Southern Arizona resident Bette Mroz is a former teacher, reading specialist and principal. As a mother and grandmother, she continues to help her family learn. She can be contacted at email@example.com