By Kathryn Trudeau
Spring is in the air, and that means spring cleaning is in full force! And if you’re like most parents, you know this scenario all too well: your mop buckets are out, cleaning supplies are ready to go, you’ve got a to-do list the size of Texas, and you’re just about to start… when your toddler walks in and asks you to play. Sometimes it’s difficult to tackle big cleaning projects with kids in the house, but you don’t have to abandon your cleaning. Include your children in the spring cleaning with age-appropriate chores.
Value of Chores
First things first: why do children need to do chores? Teaching a child to do chores teaches children how to become a contributing member of the family. He may not be able to wax the hardwood floor, but he can learn to offer his time and talent in whatever ways he is able. Chores also teach a children valuable skills that they will one day use in their own homes.
According to a study from Michigan State University, children who help out with chores experience higher confidence and self-esteem levels. Children learn to take pride in their work - no matter how small the job is.
Perhaps the biggest bonus? The more people participating in household chores means the work gets done quicker… which means more time to play and spend quality time with the family.
- Expect perfection
- Nit pick
- Wait too long to assign chores: They’ll only get better through practice.
- Praise well (even if the chores aren’t perfectly done)
- Be consistent
- Model your expectations. Teach them how you would like certain chores done. Make checklists if necessary.
- Consider your child: The chores listed below are suggestions. If your child is more mature, he may be able to take on more than what is listed below.
- Supervise as your child learns to do new chores
- When allowing your child to use cleaning products, buy or make non-toxic cleaning supplies to avoid any potential harmful situations.
- Keep the number for Poison Control on the fridge: 1-800-222-1222
Chore lists by age
Toddler (Age 2-3)
- Place dirty clothes in the hamper
- Make the bed: It won’t be perfect, Mama, but at least he can start to get in the habit of pulling up the comforter and fluffing the pillows.
- Clean up toys: This works better if there is a toy box or bins that he can just place toys into.
- Unpack grocery bags
Preschool (Age 4-5)
- Any of the chores from the toddler section
- Help unload dishwasher (skip the knives though!)
- Put away and organize tupperware: Keep the tupperware in a lower cabinet.
- Water plants
- Feed pets: This works best if there is a measuring cup ready to go. If Fido eats one cup of food at breakfast, leave a one-cup measuring cup next to the bag. Then, your child simply has to fill the cup to the top. Easy peasy!
- Laundry: Folding washcloths and matching socks are good tasks for this age.
Elementary (Age 6-9)
- Any of the chores from the toddler or preschool sections
- Sweep and/or vacuum (Plug in the vacuum for him though!)
- Sort laundry
- Put away groceries after shopping
- Help with meal prep: washing vegetables, mashing potatoes, opening boxes, grabbing ingredients from the fridge or pantry, mixing, stirring
- Wipe counters: Create a non-toxic, child-safe cleaning spray by mixing white vinegar and distilled water in a clean spray bottle.
- Pull weeds
- Planting herbs in the herb garden
Tween (Age 10-12)
- Any of the chores from the toddler, preschool, or elementary sections
- Take out trash and recycling to the bins
- Fold laundry
- Clean bathrooms: This works best if you teach them how to thoroughly clean the bathroom first. Create a checklist and laminate it so they don’t miss any essential cleaning. Use non-toxic cleaners to prevent them from inhaling toxic fumes in such a small room.
- Prepare easy meals
- Spring yard work: spreading mulch, digging holes for new plants
Teen (Age 13+)
- Any of the above listed chores
- Make more complex meals: If you meal plan, this will help your teen know what to make while teaching them the importance (and convenience) of meal planning
- Clean the fridge
- Spring yard work: mow the lawn, clean gutters (supervise on the ladder), rake any old leaves leftover from the winter and fallen branches, plant bulbs in the spring, power washing fences and driveways, dig holes for new plants
Even if your child protests a particular chore at first, there is value in sharing the workload. After a productive day of cleaning, when you all sit down as a family, you’ll be able to enjoy each other’s company with the satisfaction of a day well spent.
Kathryn is a self-proclaimed book nerd who has a passion for natural parenting and writing. As a homeschooling mother of two, Kathryn understands the dynamics of a busy family life. She is the founder of the Cor Domum movement, a mission that guides families through life so that they can parent with joy. Read more at www.katietrudeau.com