Few things do more for a child’s sense of confidence and responsibility than learning to do household chores thoroughly, consistently, cheerfully, and without being reminded. Our kids all realize that their contribution to family life is important. They know that we depend on them to help keep our home looking good and running smoothly. And they’ve learned to work hard, usually without complaining. This work ethic will serve them well when they are grown. Below is a description of how we divide chores in our family, as well as the reasoning behind these decisions:
These are the things the children do each day to keep their personal things in order, like making their beds, straightening their rooms, or folding and putting away their clean laundry. The children do not get paid for doing these things, nor do we give them an allowance. They are simply expected to do them consistently and cheerfully, in gratitude for the privilege of living in this house. Younger children are partnered with older children, who make certain their beds get made and clothes hung up satisfactorily.
These are those things that must be done daily or even several times daily—like washing clothes, wiping down counters, sweeping floors, gathering trash, loading the dishwasher, or cooking meals—which benefit the entire family. We do not pay the children to do these chores, either. Every child from three years-old and up is assigned one such chore to do every day for an entire year. New assignments are made each January. The yearly rotation serves several purposes:
- It makes it easier to tailor assigned chores to each child’s age and capabilities.
- It eliminates all arguments along the lines, “I did it yesterday, it’s her turn today.”
- It allows the child to become proficient in one area before moving to another.
- It ensures that, by the time each child is grown and ready to leave home, he/she will be comfortable doing all tasks associated with keeping house: cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.
These are those deep-cleaning tasks that we normally do only once a week, like dusting furniture, mopping floors, scrubbing bathrooms, washing windows, or mowing lawns. These are big jobs done by the older children. They do great work. We pay them for it and pay them well, knowing that the more they earn, the more they save for college (see Finances for how our family handles spending/ saving). For middle ones who are interested in earning money, I find other jobs that need to be done less frequently, such as cleaning baseboards, raking leaves, or washing cars.
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How to assign chores fairly
Filed under:Family, For moms, Kids (5-12), Preschoolers, Teens, To-do lists
Tags:children, chores, job jar, laundry, school
When it comes to assigning chores, remember that “fair” doesn’t necessarily mean “equal.” It’s natural that older children and adults will have more on their to-do lists. However, if everyone has their own responsibilities, and those jobs reflect their capabilities, there should be no arguments about the fairness factor.
Dividing family chores fairly
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind when divvying up household tasks, courtesy of Nancy Bradford-Sisson of UNH Cooperative Extension:
- While each person over the age of 5 should be responsible for his or her own room and laundry, for example, other jobs can be divided fairly amongst the family members.
- Review who is currently responsible for certain tasks, and see if one family member is doing more than the others.
- Assign tasks by writing them on colored paper – for example, blue for daily tasks, and yellow for weekly tasks. Have each family member choose both a daily and weekly task. (Check out Other chores: A simple system for some ideas.)
- Don’t assign disliked tasks to the same family member each time, or the same task to one child who always completes it better than his or her siblings. Remember “practice makes perfect” for the other kids.
- Avoid assigning tasks by gender, as everyone needs to learn a variety of skills (and you don’t want to lapse into stereotypes, either). Get some age-by-age guidelines here: Household chores by age.
- Write all necessary tasks on slips of paper and put them in a job jar. Everyone picks a chore at random out of the job jar. (If different skill levels are required, consider color-coding the paper slips to avoid giving the preschooler the task of cleaning out the freezer or detailing the car.) “Job jars” are also good for those chores that are only done occasionally such as spring-cleaning.
The reward for your efforts? A more helpful child today, who grows into a responsible and capable adult tomorrow.
Also see: Master chore list: Complete checklist