Beginning Chores with My Kids


Do your kids do chores in your home?


I grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis and Cincinnati. Growing up, I didn’t have chores to do. When my mom asked me to feed the dog or bring in the trash cans, I would. However, we did not have specific chores that we did every day. We were just asked to help out. That worked for us. Fast forward to now, my family lives in a small, rural family community. Our town is built on chores, and my kids needed some. They need to start to learn how to help out, and I definitely need the help around the house. These kids live like feral animals. All that to say, when it came time for me to implement chores for my kids I was lost. How am I going to do this? What if they whine? Will it be more work for me? 


the back view of two girls washing dishes


I first tried implementing a chore chart. I see these on Pinterest and in stores all the time. So, I made one and laminated it.  This method failed. I had things like brushing hair and teeth, making beds and picking up the room. My seven-year-old took the chart too seriously, and my son was overwhelmed by it. As soon as I laminated it, I realized that I needed to change it. This was not the way for us. Plus, I was terrible about enforcing the system. 


Toward the end of the summer, I started thinking about school starting and the kids’ routine. I decided that this might be a good time to try the chores thing again. This time I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t overwhelming anyone. I decided to start small. Every day when the kids get home from school, the first thing they do is their chores.  My seven-year-old daughter empties the dishwasher. If she doesn’t know where something goes or can’t reach the spot, she just sets the dishes on the counter. This is awesome because it makes me do the dishes every day. Sometimes it’s 1 pm, and I’m like, “Oh no! I need to get the dishes in the dishwasher so they’re ready when she gets home!” She also has to make her bed because otherwise, her room and bed get, out of control, disorganized. My son is four and gets overwhelmed by having a list of tasks. We are starting small. His chore is to make sure there is no trash on the floor in the living room and kitchen. However, I have to make sure that he has a chore to do or his sister will lose her mind. One day I cleaned up the living room but threw some mini muffin wrappers back out on the floor, so he had a chore to do when he got home.


So far, this process is going well. I will continue to add chores as I think of them and as they seem like they can take on more responsibility. I don’t think there is one right way to implement anything with children and that includes chores. If you’re going to start chores with your kids and you are having trouble, it’s not bad to take a break and reevaluate what will work for your kids.