Now that school is back in session, it’s a good time to assign chores. Yes, your kids — even as young as 15 months — can do chores.
I believe, as parents, our only job is to teach our children to be independent humans. It’s not to make them happy. They have to choose to be happy. We can’t do that for them.
My kids, ages 9 and 11, have been doing chores for most of their lives. And we talk about how they not only have to do their jobs, but also have to do them well. (You are welcome, future bosses.)
Here is a list of their chores:
Make their lunches for school. They have been doing this since they were 4. All of their containers, lunch boxes and snacks are at their level, so they don’t need my help reaching them. If your children have not been making their lunches, use the weekend to practice. Go in a different room and let them handle the lunch making. It will not go well if you are constantly correcting or telling them what to pack. It helps if you have healthy snacks in the pantry. We don’t have cookies, etc., mostly because I would eat them. My children also know how to use the oven. If they don’t want a sandwich, they can make a frozen pizza for lunch. And are you ready for this? I taught my son to make me coffee every morning. (I birthed him without drugs, so at the very least he can make me coffee as repayment.)
Wipe the counters after they make a mess making their lunches. I need to buy stock in Lysol wipes. Give your children wipes and let them clean all the counters. We clean up after ourselves! (You are welcome future co-workers, who will share the office kitchen with my children.)
My son feeds the dog. They wanted a dog. They must participate in her care. I assigned feeding to one child because that way they can’t point fingers about whose turn it is while the dog starves. They are both responsible for walking the dog.
My daughter feeds the fish. We have a pond in the backyard with lots of goldfish. (I admit I have a goldfish problem. I want to free all the goldfish from PetCo.) Again, I assigned it to one child, so there is no blame game.
Fold the laundry. I don’t want to fold the laundry. So I taught them to do it. Teach your children to do it! Even if it’s not perfect, the key here is you are not doing it. They owe it to me after all the laundry I did when they were infants. Period.
Empty the dishwasher. Again, I don’t want to do it, so I taught them. And then they have to load it, too.
Set the table. Even your 15-month-old can do this. Come on. (Your 15-month old can also use a spray bottle to spray the windows and wipe them off. Get them to clean windows!)
Clean their rooms. If you are cleaning your teenager’s room, you have taken a wrong turn. Their future roommates are going to hate you. And no, it’s not “their domain” to keep as they like. I pay for everything in there, so the room will be to my standards. The key to making this easy is having very little in their rooms. My children basically have a bed and bedside table. They also have very few clothes. There are only seven days in the week, so they don’t need 30 jeans. Toys are kept in the playroom.
Speaking of playroom, my children have to clean it. Parents often ask me how to get their kids to pick up their things. My rules are: 1. One activity at a time. When they want to move onto another activity, they must clean up the first. 2. Create a “Saturday basket.” If the toy does not go up after they were told to put it up, the toy goes in the basket, and they get it back the following Saturday. This may help you realize they have too much stuff when they forget about the item in the Saturday basket.
My son sweeps out the garage. He is the one constantly raising the door to get his soccer and basketballs out, so it’s his job to get out all the leaves that blow in. Of course, our garage is not cluttered, so it’s easy for him to sweep.
So get out there and teach some chores. You can tell your children they have me to thank!