Chores: Establishing Some Boundaries

Hello Readers!  I know our world is evolving and our electronics are getting more advanced than before.  But I still feel that some things about life in the past are important to remember.  It’s why I follow the Dave Ramsey plan and try to be as frugal as possible, because it’s a good habit to get into since saving your money today means working less and living on it tomorrow.  It’s why I don’t allow electronics at my table.  Ever.  I know that they may keep your children quiet at the table, but it’s bad social etiquette and teaches them rudeness and bad social behavior.  It’s also why I believe in chores because it teaches kids about responsibility, cleanliness, and reliability.

I don’t know about any of you, but I was raised doing chores.  I don’t remember the exact age I was when I started doing chores, but it was around age four.  Yes, children can do chores even at that age.  Chores can start at that age and progress over the years, but by age eighteen our kids should know how to manage a household via cleaning and cooking, and they should know how to care for pets properly.  These are basic life skills, and while there are classes in school to teach kids about these those classes are not mandatory.  And without these skills, we end up with trends like social media posts that gloat every time a young adult calls the doctor’s office to schedule an appointment or cooks a bowl of mac ‘n cheese.  “Adulting,” anyone?

The problem is that schools aren’t required to teach our kids how to cook or clean unless they sign up for home economics and/or foods classes, or oil changes in auto shop, or how to use a power tool in vocational education, or how to care for animals in agricultural science classes.  In fact, school are starting to see a decline in enrollment for these classes; meanwhile “adulting” has become a trend.  Schools rely on parents to teach basic life skills, social etiquette, and “adulting” at home.  The issue lies in our reliance on electronics today.  While our smart phones have made our lives easier with regard to having information at our fingertips every moment of every day, they have also lent to our disconnection with our children and with our responsibilities to teach them how to be responsible and confident adults.  And it starts with chores.

Like I said before, chores can start as young as four.  In fact, you should start around the age of two.  Not to worry if your kids are older and you haven’t started; there’s still time.  At ages two to four, your kids should be given small and simple tasks like these:

  1. Pick up toys/books
  2. Put dirty clothes in hamper
  3. Dress self/Undress self for bath and bed
  4. Wipe up spills
  5. Dust
  6. Water plants

Notice that most of the tasks are geared toward the child’s own world. This teaches kids from a young age to tidy up after themselves.  As for the two last tasks, dusting can be done with socks on their hands, and watering plants with a kid’s cup is acceptable.  But this is the beginning of teaching them basic life skills.  Teaching them to water plants is teaching them how to care for something else.

When your child enters kindergarten and elementary school, the tasks should begin to spread into household care as well as personal care.  They should still be expected to do the above tasks, but there should be more to do such as these:

  1. Make their bed/tidy their bedroom
  2. Help load dishwasher/help do dishes
  3. Bring in mail
  4. Feed pets
  5. Help put away groceries
  6. Help set the table

With these tasks, you do have to supervise a little, such as with loading the dishwasher and doing the dishes.  But doing chores like dishes and setting the table helps to teach kids about cooking and eating at home.  Bringing in the mail teaches them about other obligations, such as bills and letters, and putting away groceries teaches them about where things go in the pantry.  With feeding pets, you can begin to teach your kids about caring for others and responsibility.

At ages eight to ten, your kids should do the above tasks and they should be assigned the following tasks:

  1. Help prepare meals/set table
  2. Clean up after meals: put food away and load dishwasher/do dishes
  3. Sweep/vacuum
  4. Fold laundry/put away clothes
  5. Keep clean/personal hygiene
  6. Take out trash
  7. Rake leaves

These tasks help teach kids how to cook and how to be a part of a family since mealtimes are the most important times for families.  These tasks also help teach kids how to maintain a tidy environment and how to maintain a clean person.  These preteen tasks will help kids when they get older because they will understand personal responsibility and cause and effect.

Now from eleven to fourteen, kids should learn how to manage a house.  They should be able to do the following tasks:

  1. Clean floors- sweep, mop, vacuum
  2. Clean kitchen surfaces
  3. Clean bathroom surfaces
  4. Slice vegetables/fruit and measure ingredients for cooking
  5. Do dishes/put away dishes
  6. Do laundry from start to finish
  7. Tidy household

These chores will help teach your kids about proper cleaning and maintenance and cooking at home.  It also helps your kids connect with you, especially when cooking dinner together.  No one says that dinner has to be a gourmet meal, but learning how to make a salad or prepare a side dish is a good skill to learn.  It also will help them develop basic kitchen skills, such as what foods go together or what pantry staples you should always have on hand.

During the teenage years, your kids should be able to manage the household completely, and they should be given more advanced tasks like the following:

  1. Wash car
  2. Mow lawn/landscape maintenance
  3. Paint house/small household repairs (with supervision)
  4. Minor car maintenance (with supervision)
  5. Small household purchases

These are basic life skills that adults should know how to do or what to do if needed.  Small household repairs are things like changing the light bulbs, replacing the batteries in your smoke detector, and house management tasks like that.  These are tasks that we don’t hire certified individuals to complete because it would cost too much to have them do.  Minor car maintenance would be tasks like changing the oil on your car, replacing the windshield blades, replacing the bulbs in your headlights.  These are simple maintenance tasks that we adults need to do on our car rather than pay to have done since they can cost a lot over time.  Landscape maintenance is always important because it can be a task that can help your kids make extra cash as they can be hired by others for a side job.  Washing the car is also a task that can make them money on the side.

The last task for teenagers, “small household purchases”, does require a lot of trust and faith in your teens.  This should be a task given to a teenager that’s able to drive.  But this is your last minute need for a recipe or something similar.  This is not really a task that you can assign all the time, but it helps teach teens to be reliable.

Assigning chores based on ages helps kids understand how to be responsible, reliable, and self-reliable.  It teaches them basic life skills that furthers our own society.  So, tell me Readers, what chores do you assign your kids and how has it helped you to assign them chores?  Do you also see a progression in etiquette within your kids?  I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,



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