Ways to Let Your Kids Help with Chores
Are any other moms out there recovering perfectionists?
I know you can’t see me, but I’m typing one-handed while I somewhat sheepishly raise the other. Since having kids, my need to have everything done exactly right has been waging war with my determination to teach them practical life skills. After five years as a mom to a strong, fiercely independent little girl (thank goodness she can’t read yet… she’d never stand for being called “little”), my Montessori roots have won out.
Yes, things sometimes take many times longer when my three-year-old “help,” and explanations from and for my detail-oriented five-year-old can get lengthy. But they take so much pride in their work, and even I have to admit that while the shirts don’t get folded just the right way (and come on, there’s definitely a right way), they still end up in the drawer, ready to wear.
In our house, everyone has responsibilities, and my kids (like most kids really) love to help. For me, the challenge has simply been to find tasks that they can do and that I can let go of needing to be done perfectly.
Here are a few ways young kids can help around the house without adding too much to your already full plate.
Laundry. It’s a never-ending cycle, so while it may take a little longer (and be folded a bit more creatively), who doesn’t want help with laundry? Kids as young as two can put their own clothes in the hamper at the end of the day. Around three, they can help sort and pair up socks (folding them together is an advanced skill), and young kids can also help fold washcloths, small blankets, and even some of their own clothes. Working together, my kiddos also put away their own laundry.
I certainly don’t ask my kids to join me every time I do a load of laundry (no one has time for that!), but if they’re around and I’m doing laundry, it’s a team effort.
Mealtime. Kids love to help in the kitchen! Kids as young as three can set the table, and many young kids can take their plates to the counter and help clear the table after a meal. My kids love to wipe off the table after dinner (I can’t explain this level of enthusiasm), and they like to take turns getting drinks for each other (say it with me: plastic cups).
Cleanup. My kids love each other and play together beautifully at least 50% of the time (I’m really hoping that’s normal…), but pull out the Swiffer, and it’s an instant race for who can get there first. You can take out the middle piece of the handle, and it’s both perfectly kid-sized and apparently an absolute blast to clean with (I, myself, must be doing it wrong).
Young kids can help sweep or Swiffer, pick up the playroom (especially if you use bins to store toys), wipe down the coffee or craft table, and clean up their own spills. I live by the rule that a cup should hold no more liquid than I’m willing to clean up.
Around the house. So many of the little chores that my kids like to do come directly from their own interests. My son enjoys time outside, so he’s the first to volunteer to pull weeds or spread pine straw. My daughter is completely enamored with our family dog, so she decided (way before she was physically capable of doing it) that she was in charge of feeding him. We’ve since moved the dog food to a lower shelf, put it in a container she can open and close, and, most importantly, added the correct-sized measuring cup so he gets just the right amount. It took a little extra work to get things set up for her, but it’s now a task that I can cross off my list – she’s got it!
So many of the tasks I consider chores, my kids still consider fun. I love the idea of giving them independence and teaching them these skills while they’re still interested (before I have to create an intricate chore chart and corresponding bribes — those days are coming).
It’s taken an awful lot of letting go (for me) and a whole lot of additional time, but their good attitude around household responsibilities is (like all things little kids) contagious.
Do your kids help with chores? If so, what are some of your go-to’s? Let us know in the comments below.