At some point, almost every parent has to think about chores. Some of those thoughts include:
- What is my child able to do?
- What is my child willing to do? (some kids are more helpful than others)
- Should I pay my child to do chores?
- What should my child be able to do?
The Benefits of Chores
Most kids like to help around the house. It helps them feel like part of the family, boosts their confidence, and gives them a sense of accomplishment.
Lily is known for not liking to do anything around our house, but she loved walking Tiger. She became our main dog walker. She was devastated to lose that job and now has the “pooper scooper” job of cleaning the cat litter box. Walking Tiger gave her a huge sense of accomplishment.
Julian loves to feed the cats. Kids as small as three or four can do small things, like helping pick up toys, and that can be made to be fun (think “The Cleanup Song”). They love to feel like they’re helping and it teaches responsibility of cleaning their own messes.
Another benefit, my personal favorite, is knowing that your kids will move out as adults knowing they can care for themselves. My kids can do laundry (Lily is working on this), use a microwave, many kitchen chores and use a vacuum cleaner. The boys can cook small things for themselves.
I am doing this for two reasons- Matthew didn’t do his own laundry until college and this was baffling to me, and because I have two chronic health issues. If I’m in bed with either severe joint pain due to RA or a severe migraine, the last thing I’m thinking about is going into the basement to finish the laundry. I can ask one of the boys to do this.
I don’t particularly like this, but I choose to see this as a life lesson they’ll thank me for later. To find out more about my fun times as a mom with chronic health issues, you can read RA and Me and Chronic Conditions and Momming
Kids learn bigger chores best by a step-by-step manner. Praise them as they go, and don’t expect perfection the first or even the tenth time.
It takes a while and many tries to get certain chores done correctly. School age kids and teens need chores that grow with them- dishes, laundry, pet care, etc. It teaches them a bit more responsibility.
The Chores Battle
Some kids can’t stand doing chores. There are a few reasons that kids don’t like doing chores:
- lack of knowing how much work it takes to run a home
- impulsivity. Working on something that isn’t instantly gratifying isn’t on their agenda.
- Self-absorbed. The kids that fall into this category don’t naturally consider the needs of others and are concerned about their own needs, which don’t usually include helping others keep a clean home.
These traits develop as a child does, and can contribute to a struggle about chores. Some parents let the struggle go because they don’t want to damage the relationship they have with their children, feel guilty about asking their child to do more than they already do (meaning school, sports, a job, etc.) and/or think their child is too young, not realizing their child’s capabilities.
It may be helpful if you remind your child that everyone in your home is responsible for helping the home stay clean and orderly.
**If there are special considerations that you need to take for your child, take them. There’s no point in giving your child a chore that they cannot for some reason physically complete.**
Ask your child for input. Do they like the chores they do? Is there a way to swap them? There may be some that are non-negotiable, but maybe there are some that can be changed.
The Money Question
To pay or not pay?
My kids don’t get an allowance. They don’t have a lot of chores- each kid is responsible for cleaning up after themselves, their rooms and the boys do their own laundry. Cameron takes out the trash and takes care of the turtle. Julian and Lily cover the cat care.
Their rooms are a job in themselves- the boys share a room and it gets pretty gross in there. If they want extra money, they can do extra chores or help their grandparents out with something they need.
The boys like this idea, so they’ve been helping their grandfather with yard things lately. Julian and Lily prefer to save their money and Cameron prefers to save it if there’s something he wants, otherwise it’s snack time. He needs to get all the Goldfish he can eat.
Whether you pay your child or not for chores, it is very important to discuss money management- saving, credit, opening a bank account, etc. They will need to know these things for the future. When I take the kids shopping, I remind them of things about tax, sales, and so on. They need to consider those things when buying certain things.
Every parent has a different thought on this topic, and this is cool. I’d like to see your thoughts in the comments. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer.
Information from Center for Parenting Education