I know lots of busy parents who constantly echo the same response when asked how they are doing. “BUSY” they always say.
I can sincerely sympathize. With three jobs, two kids, two dogs and a home to care for, my husband and I are very busy!
With each of us going a thousand different directions during the week, the weekends used to be consumed with house work and chores, done mostly by my husband and me.
Now though, both of our children have weekly responsibilities that help keep the ship sailing smoothly, as well as freeing up much needed time for family fun!
It is important that children help with household chores because it ensures they grow up with a respect for their home and their belongings, as well as respect for you as a parent.
I can remember being a small child when my mother told me, “we may not have a lot, but what we do have, we take care of so it will last.” With today’s culture of immediate gratification and digital everything, I am seeing more and more children growing up with a lack of respect for their belongings, a lack of respect for their parents and authority figures, and the inability to see beyond themselves in most situations. (Now, don’t get me wrong, all children in varying stages of development have moments like this. That’s why it is called development, because they are learning and developing the skills they will need later in life.)
Including your child while young and increasing responsibility as they grow, your child will develop a sense of pride and confidence, which will translate to all other areas of life.
Treating your family as a team will help your child relate. If the team works together success will follow!
Here are a few ways you can start including your child in the household activities and the benefits you will discover along the way.
Small Children Between the ages of 3-5
There are a few ways you can encourage your littles to help around the house. Little people have lots of little toys that get just about everywhere! Since my children were small, we had “clean up” time before nap and before bed. The clean-up song helps get your toddler engaged in cleaning up his or her toys. Little ones love to be helpers, and this is a great way to stay ahead of the clutter.
Have a designated hamper or laundry basket in their room and they can practice shooting baskets with their laundry. This way they develop an understanding of where the clothes go, and that they are responsible for putting them there.
This is the age that picky eating usually starts, so get your little involved in preparing meals. Have them help get the ingredients to the counter or table. Get them involved in preparing by letting them use a butter knife to cut bananas or strawberries. With the use of a sturdy stool or chair, let them help you mix, spread, and such. I have always found that my children were more inclined to try something new if they had a hand in preparing it. They are so proud of the results and will look forward to helping you again.
If you have pets, set aside a special scoop that measures the right amount of food for your pet. Let your child be responsible for getting puppy’s food every day. Your child will love to have a job and will be excited to make sure puppy or kitty have their meal.
Big Kids From 6-10
Now that your child is older, they are much more aware of the day’s activities and can be included more. While still allowing your child to help prepare meals, they can also lend a hand in the clean up by wiping counters and tables as well as by unloading and loading the dishwasher. (They may still need supervision and or assistance.)
Though the least fun, taking the trash out is another chore that your bigger kids can help with.
Your child is old enough now to help you out by getting his or her laundry into the machine. My kids loved measuring the soap, pouring it into the washer, and hitting start! Also, they are just the right height to help unload the dryer so you can fold those loads. Use this time to talk to your children about their day, school, friends etc.
Your children’s bedrooms are their domain! By this age, they know what goes where and should be able to keep their rooms clean. By continuing to pick up daily, the clutter will be kept to a minimum and your children will learn to take pride in their space. Personally, we love using bucket systems. They are a great way to keep toys organized without making things complicated.
By this age kids are also able to help out by dusting furniture and cleaning windows and mirrors. For some reason my kids always loved to do this, so give them a rag and set them lose!
Ages 10 and up
By now your children should be able to do just about anything they are asked. You can expand on the chores listed above. For example, keeping their room neat and tidy includes dusting and vacuuming it as well.
Let your child take the garbage out and take the can to the curb on trash day.
After feeding the dogs, your child can take them for a long walk.
Spring time means beautiful green lawns and colorful plants. Every year we plant a spring and fall garden, and it is my daughter’s favorite thing to do. She loves planting the seeds, and watching everything grow! It also means that there is yard work to do, and children can certainly lend a hand with using a push mower, blower, or rake. They can also help pick weeds. My teenager recently discovered that he can offer his services to the neighbors to make some extra money. This is a sign that he is growing up responsibly and asserting his independence.
Children should be able to participate more in the kitchen, making their own lunch and snacks, helping chop vegetables, and making simple meals like soup, pizzas, scrambled eggs and mac n cheese. The independence they develop at this stage is something to behold. They really do love to be trusted with a job, and to do it well.
Show them, engage with them and let them ask a million questions. They really are only this age for a little while.
Your children are sponges, and they will soak up everything you have to teach them. So why not use this opportunity to show them the world and how it works? By engaging your children in the daily activities in your household, you will find that not only have they become more independent and responsible, they have also developed a sense of pride in their work. You will have strengthened your bond with them by engaging daily and using the time to communicate with and relate to them.