Let’s talk about a common household event that is often said to be a dirty word: Chores. In our home, it seems as though we are often trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to chore charts. There are many systems to choose from and all of them so dazzling and enticing. If you are like me, chores are one of those things that you are always aspiring to have as a regular part of your daily routine. I say aspire, because usually having kids do chores is about as regular as a geriatric who forgot their Metamucil for a week.
When I get out a stack of cards, or a giant piece of poster board, markers, stickers and all the usual office supplies for making a chore system, the question comes to mind of what each child is capable of doing. Part of the success of chores is your child learning a new skill that they will keep with them for a lifetime. Accomplishing a task also builds their self esteem and gives them a sense of belonging as they contribute to the family. Chores are good for the character. We want them to be successful, which is why we don’t want them to be overwhelming or even too easy.
Toddlers are not too young to start helping around the house. They are capable of learning to put their dirty clothes in the proper place. They can also put their shoes away and hang up their jacket. When I am unloading the dishwasher, my toddler is at my side, pulling each dish out one at a time. It is a painstakingly slow process, but she loves to do it. She is learning that she can help. She also learns where the dishes go even if she can’t reach.
Preschoolers tend to be a little more adventuresome and independent with their choice of chores. At this age, they can start carrying their own dishes to the sink when they are done eating. They can put their clean clothes away with supervision. It is also at this age where basic sorting skills can be taught and put to use in picking up their toys. Preschoolers make great shadows as you go about your daily routine. They want to know how everything works. It is important to use a dialogue with them that expresses the importance of safety. (This is laundry detergent. It is only to wash clothes. We don’t eat or drink it, and it belongs up here. It is not for playing.)
As kids get older, they may express a preference for which chores they like. It is important to rotate things, so that they learn the value of doing a good job, even if it is not something they enjoy. Chores should be an integral part of our homes. There are important life lessons to be learned in work, and in today’s world, often these opportunities are overlooked. Do your chores! They’re good for you! Remember, the greatest reward for chores is the sincere praise you give for a job well done.