I remember having chores as a child but I can’t remember when they started. I’ve started wondering what I should do about introducing my chores to my children. My children help me out around the house but not in a structure manner.


The thought of children and chores seems so tempting but at the time time so daunting! 


I recently read a post on keeping children active indoors by getting them to do chores. This seemed like an excellent idea but I had no idea where to start. 


I called upon my organisational friend – Diane from DNQ Solutions for some advice. Diane has previously helped me out before with a household issue when I was stuck with where to start on meal planning.

when to introduce children to chores




When to introduce children to chores

Do you have kids that are three years old or older? Do you have them help you with household chores?
Research indicates that when we involve the children in helping us around the house we accomplish much more than merely having our children help with the chores.



The concerns about combining children and chores


Won’t it take me twice as long

Are you thinking to yourself that it may take longer to get things done. Are you thinking that the children won’t know what they’re doing and it will take twice as long to get things done?
You would be right in your thinking, at first. As time goes on and you instruct your children how to do the chores everything will be done just fine.


Won’t it be done badly

It’s important to note here that the chores may not be done up to your standard at first. In fact, you can probably count on the chores being done less than perfectly at first. However, PLEASE don’t go back and ‘fix’ whatever your children have done.


Believe me when I say I understand you want things done a certain way. If you go back and perfect that which your children have done it completely undermines their efforts. In fact, by fixing the chore you are indirectly telling your children that they shouldn’t have bothered helping you in the first place because what they did wasn’t good enough.


You don’t want them to receive that message.



What are the benefits of having your children help with chores?

  1. Your children learn how to do chores.
  2. They are learning to take responsibility in the home.
  3. Chores take less time. This also teaches them that doing tasks together make things quicker.
  4. Educationally – your kids learn how to sort objects, how to measure, and the cycle of things (I’ll explain more in a bit).
  5. Maybe most importantly they learn that doing chores is not a punishment, merely an expected part of life.


What chores can you assign to your children?


1. If your children are about 3 years old they can help to empty the dishwasher.

Teach them to sort the forks, knives, and spoons. They can stack the plates on the table and then you can put the plates where they belong. Of course, every kitchen is laid out differently. If your cabinets or shelves are low enough your children may even be able to put the plates and cups away! As they grow older they will know exactly where to put these things.


children and chores - helping with the dishwasher


Children can make their beds, feed the pets, set the table and more!


2. Young children can help with the laundry.

Teach them to sort the darks from the lights. They can also help put away the laundry. This helps them learn the cycle (remember, I said I’d get back to this concept) of the laundry.


The laundry cycle goes like this:

  • Dirty laundry goes in a hamper.
  • On wash day, the laundry is sorted into different loads.
  • The laundry is washed, goes in the dryer, is folded, and put away.


3. Children can tidy their rooms

You can also teach young children to pick up their rooms by playing a game with them.  Ask them to pick up their things by category.


For instance, pick up the books and put them on the shelf or in the bin. This way they are only looking for books. You can ask them to put their shoes in the closet.  I think you get the idea.


If you want more help with this check out my books: Suzie’s Messy Room and Benji’s Messy Room.


You can also ask your young children to go around and empty the waste baskets from each room. Just make sure they know where they should be emptying them into.



The Cycle of Chores

As I said above cycles exist in housekeeping.


I’ve already referred to the laundry cycle, most chores actually have a cycle.


In the kitchen, for example, you eat a meal – this means you use a plate, a cup, and cutlery – then you wash the dish or put it in the dishwasher.  You take something out (perhaps a game), use it, then put it away. With clothes: you wear them and put the dirty clothes in the hamper (not on the floor).


As your children get older and more capable you can assign more complex chores. Even young children can do a little dusting or vacuuming, it’s just about choosing age-appropriate tasks for them to do. 


children and chores - age appropriate chores


Children and Chores: Developing lifelong Skills


Involving children in helping with basic, routine household chores teaches them lifelong skills. Recently, in my job as professional organizer I’ve met many millennials who do not have these life skills. The only reason I can think of is that their parents didn’t involve them in the day to day running of the home. This would include doing chores.


 When we involve our children in doing these simple tasks we are giving them tools to live in a well ordered home. 



If you’ve enjoyed this post on Children and Chores have a look at Diane’s previous post on How to Meal Plan

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8 thoughts on “CHILDREN AND CHORES

  1. My daughter is 2 and I’m training her to pack away toys among other things. My 4 year old helps with sweeping the floor everyday.

    I think it’s so important to start them young, I’ve had young people in their 20’s come in for job interviews which don’t even know how to use a vacuum and mop.

    Far too frequently the new generation are smothered with love and this is to their own detriment.

  2. What a great post! I love what Diane says about involving your kids early on in their development. As a parent, you have so much to teach, but you also have much that you can learn from your kids…like patience or creative ways of doing things. I love the idea of working together and helping to develop the idea of teamwork…as opposed to Mommy doing it all. And the skills your willing to slow down to teach are lifelong skills that will have positive outcomes for other areas of your kids’ lives as they grow.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. There is so much that we can learn from our kids – life skills that we know we need but we just put on the back burner. You’ve pointed out two excellent examples there.

      I am going to start working on this right away, not just for them but for me too.

  3. Great advice, when my kids were little, I placed the plastic plates and cups for kids in the lower pull out drawer. They then can help me empty the dishwasher. Yay.

  4. That going back and “fixing” things is a tough one. I think it is good to be aware of your proclivities in advance, and pick chores that you can be happy with whatever effort the child puts forth. I used to rotate my kids between table set up, table clearing, and vacuuming. If it wasn’t done perfectly, that was okay! And so important to teach them about restoring order in their rooms and play spaces. It is worth the effort to set up systems that a child can use so that they really can take ownership of this important job.

    1. That really is one aspect I struggle with. I get annoyed and then they know and then I fix it and they’re not learning from the process nor am I learning to be patient.

      I like your idea of choosing activities that you know you will be happy with regardless of the outcome. I am going to start thinking of what I could let them do. Thanks for this suggestion.

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