Chores. As adults, it’s often a word that makes us cringe, an activity we want to finish quickly so we can move on to fun. And, as our family grows bigger, the chore list grows longer. Fun rarely seems to happen. Involving your children in chores makes the workload lighter for everyone, especially as they get older. Chores have been shown to help children develop confidence, self-control, and self-efficacy. It also teaches children useful life skills, such as keeping a living space clean and cooking a nutritious meal.
It doesn’t matter if your child is a newborn, a toddler, or eight-years old– you can involve him in daily chores. Whether you’re a veteran looking for new ideas or a first-time parent wondering where to begin, we’ve compiled some tips for making chores fun and a list of age appropriate chores. The list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it will help you consider new possibilities!
Tips for Making Chores Fun for Children:
- Make them fun for yourself! Your attitude and example will have the biggest impact on your children.
- Focus on the end result instead of the task, such as a sparkling clean sink after washing dishes.
- Do some research, see if there’s a more efficient way to accomplish a task– maybe you don’t have the right tool or there’s a technique you haven’t learned yet.
- Time yourself and see if you can beat your best record.
- Reframe chores as responsibilities. The article, “Why Chores Are Important,” from Psychology Today recommends reframing chores as responsibilities. The author writes, “Tackling responsibilities helps kids feel that they are growing up. They are fulfilling an intrinsic desire and drive to become independent, autonomous individuals.”
- Include your children in whatever housekeeping system you use for yourself. If that’s index cards, make them a set. If it’s a chart, give them special assignments.
- Include surprises. When you plan out the week’s chores, include fun surprises as well, such as getting ice cream or making a pillow fort.
- Turn chores into an opportunity for family members to spend time together. Talking about your child’s school day while you both load the dishwasher will become a cherished memory.
Age-Appropriate Chores for Newborns:
Wait, can newborns really help with chores? Not in the traditional sense, no. But they can participate by sitting on your lap when you fold laundry, or watching you sweep. As they get old enough to interact more and more with household objects, you can let them hold a sock while you fold or a clean cloth while you dust. All of this builds a familiarity and culture of housework from the first beat of your child’s life. This way, when they’re toddlers, they’re itching to wind up the vacuum cord and man the feather duster.
Age-Appropriate Chores for Toddlers
While certainly more capable than a newborn, toddlers will often hinder more than help. However, letting them use the broom or toss clothes in the washing machine gives them the satisfaction of contributing and participating. At this age, helping with the mop is just as fun as throwing a ball.
Toward the end of toddlerhood, however, your child should be able to help with:
- Putting away PJs.
- Basic hygiene, such as brushing teeth and washing face.
- Putting dirty clothes in laundry basket.
- Dusing the living room.
- Picking up toys.
- Tossing dirty clothes in the washing machine.
- Throwing away dirty diapers.
- Making the bed.
Age-Appropriate Chores for 5-Year Olds
By now, your child should be old enough to also help with:
- Making the bed.
- Clearing dishes from the table.
- Cleaning the TV screen.
- Setting the table.
- Carrying in and putting away groceries.
Age-Appropriate Chores for 6-Year Olds
By this time, your child can additionally help with:
- Feeding pets.
- Tidying up the bedroom.
- Taking out the trash.
- Washing and drying dishes.
- Cleaning the interior of the car.
- Sweeping walkways.
Age-Appropriate Chores for 8-Year Olds
Around this age, your child can also:
- Wash bathroom mirrors.
- Dust multiple rooms.
- Clean fingerprints off the walls.
- Wash windows.
- Basic ironing.
- Polish furniture.
- Help fold clothes.
- Cook basic foods.
- Make dessert.
Age-Appropriate Chores for Children 9 and Up
From this point on, your child can take on more and more responsibilities with less and less supervision. These can include:
- Changing bedsheets.
- Cleaning the entire bedroom.
- More complicated ironing.
- Cooking and baking.
- Sewing and mending.
- Assisting with repair jobs.
- Scrubbing and waxing floors.
- Cleaning the stove top.
- Cleaning baseboards.
- Washing the car.
- Helping with yard work.