Children & Chores: 10 Tips to Get Started

“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.”

Proverbs 10:4

Children & Chores: 10 Tips for Getting Started - Growing in His Glory

When I decided to refocus our homeschool plans for May, I didn’t have a specific direction in which to go. I knew what I wanted us to do, but had no clear path to get us there. So I sat down and made a list of irritations I was experiencing with myself and my children: personal grievances that were affecting our relationship and turning great days into Armageddon.

My list revealed two things:

  1. Too much housework for Mom
  2. Too many grumbling, complaining kids

So, to me, the obvious solution was to take a short break from academic work to focus on work ethic and attitude, theirs and mine.

Daddy & His Girls

We have three girls, ages 5 1/2, 3 1/2, and 24 months. While I could certainly have pulled up one of a countless number of “appropriate chores for children” for my children’s ages, I prefer to reinvent the wheel because (1) I believe my kids are capable of much more than those charts dictate and (2) I have specific chores I want them to do. So, over the course of the past 2 weeks, my girls have tried their hand at a number of chores from vacuuming to dusting, yard cleanup to toilet cleaning, mopping to door washing.

In this time, I’ve discovered that attitude — not age, not skill level, not agility or intelligence — is the number 1 key to a job well done. When we work together and I offer plenty of praise, my girls work diligently, the complaining is minimal, and the task is completed rather proficiently.

However, when I leave my girls to work independently for too long, when I am too critical about their work, when I don’t give them sufficient praise, their attitudes quickly sour and performance is poor.

Of course this “experiment” hasn’t been easy. I’ve met with resistance and sass, especially from my oldest. There have been more messes made while cleaning than if I’d done it all myself. We’re still in the “honeymoon” phase where, for the most part, my girls like cleaning and helping out. There’s a certain amount of energy and patience you need training young children, which I, at 24 weeks pregnant, do not have {the patience I’ve never had}.

But, all in all, I’ve been extremely pleased with our progress. My goal is that each child will do her chores during A.M. and P.M. chore times with only minimal assistance from me so that when we resume school in June, these chores will simply be a part of their daily routine.

If you’re considering starting chores with your young children, here are some suggestions based on my own lessons learned:

1. Start small. Especially if your children have never done very much housework. Attempt 1 new chore at a time; add a new one only after they have “mastered” the first one.

L2. Properly equip your child. Depending on the chores you choose, select age-appropriate equipment for your child. For instance, I bought little spray bottles for each girl to fill with water. These bottles and their cleaning rags are housed on a shelf under our bathroom sink. They only use safe cleaners. Make sure little ones can’t access poisonous or harmful cleaners.

3. Make up some natural cleaning products. The oldest daughter’s bottle contains an all-purpose spray made of a 50/50 vinegar – water combination. For more recipes, follow my Natural Cleaning Supplies board on Pinterest.

4. Praise, praise, praise. While it’s super easy for me to find all the imperfections in their work, children learning a new chore need lots of at-a-boy’s to keep them motivated. Who doesn’t like to hear, “Great job!”? Praise them and they will perform well; criticize their efforts & they will resist you.

5. Expect a mess. At first. We’re talking about kids. Enough said.

6. Give yourself plenty of time. If you have a busy day jam-packed with activities, don’t plan to start teaching new chores. The rush will frustrate you and your children. You will lose your cool. They will lose heart in helping. Wait for or plan a day when you have no agenda so you can give your children your full attention and be prepared for a mess.

Kate Swiffering

7. Show them step-by-step what to do. Children need the details. They lack the experience to know your expectations. Show & tell clearlyrepeatedly, and consistently until they are able to do the chore by themselves exactly as you direct.

8. For older children, explain why we do chores. My younger girls just want to please Mommy, but for my oldest, I shared how her helping with the chores now is preparing her for her own home and family some day. Plus, we do chores together because we’re a family, and good families work together. We also talked about how our attitudes should be as we work: cheerfully, diligently, without complaining.

9. Create an easy-to-understand chore chart. I made several charts before coming up with this simple one. Based on the days of the week, the chart tells each child her daily chores. Once she has done her chore, she gets a star: 1 star per chore. She must do all of her chores before bedtime. If not, then the next day, she will receive an extra chore.

Daily Chore Chart for Kids

10. Provide incentives. Eventually, the “fun” of chores will wear off, and your child will need a little inducement to persevere. Just like I need the promise of a piece of chocolate or cup of coffee.

Some incentives might be:

  • money
  • TV time
  • computer or tablet time
  • read aloud together
  • a special snack
  • tea party
  • some arts & crafts time

It all depends on your child’s interests. However, emphasis should be placed on the importance of working together as a family. We do not pay for chores; however, on occasion, if the girls have worked hard, without complaining, I will reward them with a video or tea party.

Moms, we have a lot of work to do. Why do it alone? Give your children the gift of a work ethic; teach them how to run a household while they’re young so that when they’re teenagers, you can move on to other responsibilities. I want to work myself out of a job. They will never learn these essential life skills, though, unless I make a conscious effort now.

What are your thoughts on chores for children? Any additional advice you would give?



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  1. This is great! My little boy is 2 and I think it’s about time that I start with some simple chores. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad I found you at #itworksformewednesday link up. recently posted…Enjoy Every MomentMy Profile

    • Thanks, Kristina. I hope you’ll stick around. In the next few weeks, I will be sharing some sample chores charts for children ages 5 & under.

  2. Keri, This is good stuff. I’ve been needing to re-evaluate chores for the kids, and get my 3 yo daughter started. You’ve given me a little nudge! Thanks.