It’s never too early to start teaching your kids about being Responsible, and one of the easiest ways you can do this is by allowing them to help around the house, so give them a mop and let them take a go at it! A few people might say that it is too early to get your kids involved in household chores, unless they are around 10 years old. But I am a bit old-school in my thinking when it comes to making my kids help me with my household chores. I personally was helping my Mom a lot when I was 5 years old, and I know it has helped me maintain my knack for cleanliness, and I want my kids to be the same. I’m not asking you to resort to child labor, nor am I a strong proponent of paying your kids to help with chores – I think it is in their best interests to learn to engage themselves in the house early on, so they can feel that they share responsibility of the house. When I ask my 5-year old to help me set the table when we have guests over for dinner, and when they compliment her for a job well done, the feeling of pride that swells up in her cannot be matched by any allowance. She feels important and respected, and no longer looks upon that task as a chore!
I believe kids can start helping their parents as soon as they start understanding instructions. Eve my 15-month old can help me when I say “Can you please help Mamma remove the clothes from the dryer?” He loves flaunting the clothes as he dumps them into the laundry basket, and a few words of praise help me instill good values in my little one that will stay with him for life. So don’t let age be a barrier, here are some chores divided by age that you can get your kids involved in! Also, make a chore chart for the whole family and check off your tasks, that way the kids know that even parents are doing their part, and its all fair game for every member of the house.
Here is Ritika’s Chore Chart. There are some daily chores and some which she can help with if she likes. I usually reward her with M&Ms for opting to help with the non-routine ones, just to keep her motivated. You can find several such free printables on Pinterest, and I would highly recommend having them pinned onto the refrigerator!
As for me, here are a few of my personal picks. Both my kids love helping Mommy and Daddy – it makes them feel like a Big Kid and it helps us make them more responsible. Plus, if you get into the habit of asking them to do their chores regularly, they are no longer chores, and become a part of their daily routine. I never pay them for helping us, but a few kid words, a big hug and a giant kiss, a few stickers on their chore chart – all these go a long way in getting the best out of their efforts!
This is one of the easiest and safest chores to start with. As I said, my little one loves to remove clothes from the dryer and toss them into the hamper, while my elder daughter helps me fold the clothes and put them away in the drawers. While I take care of the bigger clothes that need to be folded properly, she is responsible for all her clothes, as well as the simple ones that can be hanged easily and need no complex folding. Remember to guide them, but let them fold it in their own way. Don’t be too critical about how it’s done in the beginning, once they ease into the chore, you can concentrate on making it better.
Setting the Table
One of daughter’s favorite chores is setting the table. She loves to arrange all the plates, bowls and silverware on the table. I also ask her to take a look at what Mommy has cooked today, and get all the necessary utensils herself. Whether we need spoons, forks, glasses or any other special stuff is for her to decide. This way she feels important about making decisions, and is also more likely to finish her meal without too many hiccups, because she has set it herself.
Vacuum & Clean floors
This one is a big hit with kids. Even my 15-month old loves to vacuum, and while you have to be careful about letting your kids use electric appliances, its ok to hold their hands and guide them. Cleaning kitchen floors is definitely something they can do. Its safe and fun, especially with new mops on the market like to O-Cedar ProMist, which is a kid-friendly dry/wet cleaner with a refillable bottle and a washable microfiber washcloth, you can be sure that there are no chemicals for your kids to touch or inhale. Plus its eco-friendly, you can fill it with your own cleaning solution, and instead of trashing away the pad after one use, you can wash it and re-use it again and again!
Another easy one, though not for someone who has a dust allergy. Give a nice fluffy duster to your older kids and let them roll it over tables, TV and other wooden furniture that needs to be dusted. Let them pat the pillows and cushions with their hands to dust them down. They will have tons of fun doing it, and you’ll end up with a cleaner house.
Cleaning their room
One of the most fundamental duty for a child should be to keep their rooms and playing areas clean. Just like mommy is responsible for the rest of the house, a child should be responsible for their own room. I expect my daughter to make her bed every morning, and also keep her things organized in her room. Clothes should go into the closet or the hamper, and books and study area has to be neat and clean at the least. Teaching them to resect their space from early on will help them carry this as they grow up and start living on their own.
This is the easiest way to get them involved in food and also teaches important concepts of visualizing, patience and diligence. Whether its mixing ingredients in a bowl, or more refined tasks like measuring them out, tasting/adjusting ingredients, or even cooking up new recipes, this will help them value food in general, and make them better eaters at the table.
Even research has proved it time and again that getting your kids involved in household help from early on is a great way to boost their mental and physical health. These are stepping stones to make them responsible and confident individuals as they grow up, and its a parenting responsibility that every one should take seriously. Do you believe in having your kids help with household chores? What kind of help do you enlist? How do you motivate them? DO you use rewards or other forms of encouragement? I’d love to know what other moms out there feel, and I’m surely hoping I’m not alone!
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