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Household chores: Are your kids doing enough?

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

When are kids old enough to do chores?

People joke that kids are great for free babysitting and help around the house, but when do kids actually start being helpful? According to the moms we talked to, kids can start helping out around the house from early ages.
Preschooler helping with chores

Giving kids responsibilities from an early age sets them up to be responsible and capable adults. Actually keeping kids on a chore schedule is easier said than done. If you’re looking for some inspiration to get your kids in line when it comes to household responsibilities, try these tips from moms who have established a steady chore routine.

Tips for toddlers

While toddlers won’t be much help around the house, you can begin teaching them how to be responsible and how to keep the house tidy from an early age. Kacey of Teaching Brady began involving her son with household chores from the time he was an infant. "When he was a newborn I put him in a bouncy seat on the floor while I made dinner and cleaned the kitchen and just moved him from room to room with me as I cleaned, talking about everything I was doing,” she says. As her son developed, Kacey made sure he had his own safe tools for helping her do chores around the house. “I've just made it clear to him from day one that he is part of this family and that that means helping each other when we can,” Kacey says.

Tips for kids ages 4-6

Katherine Johnson is a mom to two kids in Florida. Tired of doing everything around the house by herself, she began giving her little ones responsibilities.

She found that motivation helped, from positive reinforcement to allowing her kids to pick the place settings when it was time to set the table. Rewards may help with the more elaborate chores. “My oldest has been asking for an allowance, so my husband and I outlined the chores that are not paid,” Katherine says. “We encouraged her to come up with chores to help Mommy that she could earn money.”

Learn how to get your kids to help with the housework >>

How do your kids measure up?

We polled moms on Twitter to find out what their kids are doing at home.

Ages 2-4

  • Helps feed pets
  • Cleans up toys
  • Waters plants
  • Helps put laundry away

Ages 5-7

  • Clears table
  • Makes bed
  • Vacuums
  • Mops floors
  • Empties dishwasher
  • Puts laundry away

  • Wipes windows
  • Wash dishes
  • Feeds pets
  • Helps with cooking

Ages 8+

  • Cooks basic meals
  • Makes lunches
  • Cleans bathroom
  • Takes garbage out
  • Washes and folds laundry

Find out how to bribe your kids >>

Are you preventing your kids from doing chores?

When we talked to moms about the types of chores and responsibilities their children had, a common theme came up: Many moms had neglected to give kids responsibilities for fear of kids doing the chores inadequately. If you like things organized a certain way or your standards are particularly high when it comes to cleanliness, it may be time to let go a little. The last message you want to send your kids is that they can get out of responsibilities by doing a bad job a few times. “Just start early and always encourage them pitching in even when you have to redo the chore yourself later,” says mom Ani Lacy.

More child development

How to start a family chore chart
Can kindergarten wait?
Don't mistake sensory issues for behavior issues

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