I was out and about last week and a friend and I were talking about the tasks my soon-to-be 3 year-old helps with around the house. A sweet little lady overheard and proudly stated, “That is WAY too young to be giving her chores, my dear.”
So I did a little survey of my Mama friends and was surprised to learn that several of us are not asking for help from our kiddos very often. As a Mama who fully embraces giving kids responsibility at a young age, I encourage you to transfer some of the shining stars on your very full chore chart over to your kids!
Many Hands Make Light Work
I don’t know about you, but I am beyond thankful to have an extra set of hands. Most days, I wish I had more hours in the day to tackle my ‘to-do’ list, so a helper is much appreciated.
I love having my daughter beside me in those big and little tasks, but more importantly, I feel it is important for her to have responsibilities even at her young age. I believe it fosters significance and helps her create an understanding of her role in our family.
My desire is that having these responsibilities early on will set her up for creating lifelong habits and discipline in all areas of life. I want her to learn how important it is to be responsible and serve others. I want her to take initiative and jump in when things need taken care of. So…we tackle our household tasks together.
Where to Start
My philosophy is simple: I think pretty much anything that is age appropriate (and safe) for your kids is fair game!
Before you develop your ‘chore’ list, it is important to take each child’s personalities and capabilities into consideration – their age and stage. My daughter has a little vacuum and loves to pretend. Her play broom and dustpan come out of the closet frequently. She loves packing bags, organizing and sorting, so I take full advantage of the stage she’s in.
There are easy ways to include your kids in just about every chore on your list. Start by breaking down some of your regular tasks into kid-friendly pieces that work for both of you. Try it out, then adjust as necessary.
- Menu planning: Talk about menus and make a list of what everyone wants to eat.
- List making: Younger kids can talk about colors and shapes, or food groups. Older kids help by writing out the list.
- At the store, help identify items with younger kids; for older kids, use a pen and cross items off the list.
- Carry bags in and help put away items upon return home.
- Help identify and sort laundry: Make a warm pile and a cold pile. Take turns and place in correct baskets or piles. (For wee ones, even finding the tag on each piece is helpful; for older kids, read labels and identify warm or cold.)
- Put clothing in machine. Press buttons. Measure detergent. Take laundry out.
- Fold laundry & put away. We often have races with the folded laundry and take turns putting things away in the right places.
- Set the table: Identify utensils and proper place settings.
- Clear plates and items from table. Put back in fridge or cupboard. Put dirty dishes on counter or in the sink.
- Load/unload the dishwasher. Put items back in place. Older kids can hand-wash dishes & dry, then put away.
Meal Preparation & Baking
- Identify needed ingredients in the cupboard or fridge. Talk about colors, shapes, food groups, and practice counting.
- Food preparation: Mom can chop/cut fruits & veggies and the kids can put them in the prep bowl.
- Identify utensils. Measure and stir ingredients. Pour into muffin tins or larger pans.
- Spoon food into serving bowls. Deliver to table.
Granted, some of those tasks might take longer with your child’s help, but those together times and teachable moments are memories we won’t ever regret.