I have always made sure my daughters are an integral part of the upkeep of our home, partly because I want them to develop an appropriate work ethic, a sense of responsibility, and learn how to clean and take care of stuff, and partly because I just can't do it all myself! I've often found people are surprised when they hear how much the girls are able to do around the house, so today I wanted to share the list of "chores" they currently do.
First a quick side note: I don't treat the jobs they do as "chores" that they are required to do, or that they earn money/rewards for. I just expect them to do these things as part of life, the same way I expect them to brush their teeth or wash their hands. One thing that has helped to keep things "fair" in the eyes of my justice-conscious 5 year olds is my family chore chart, which sets up a rotation of some of the major chores that we share. The major difference between my chart and others I've seen is that I am listed on there too, which helps a lot when I occasionally hear the inevitable, "How come I do EVERYTHING around here?" comments ;) You can read more about my chore chart in this post:
On to the list!
1. Pack and unpack their backpacks
Basically for now this just involves getting their lunchbox out of the fridge and packing it in the morning, and taking it out and bringing it to the sink for me to wash after school.
2. Set and clear the table
These jobs are a part of the chore chart rotation, so each of us sets and clears the table once a week (read more in the post linked above). Setting the table involves getting out dishes, napkins, silverware, and condiments etc, and clearing the table means putting the dishes in the dishwasher or sink and putting away extra silverware or condiments, then wiping the table.
3. Unload the dishwasher
As I already mentioned, the load the dishwasher as part of clearing the table, but they also help me unload the dishwasher once everything is clean. A lot of the dishes are stored in cabinets that are too high for them to reach, but they can take them out of the dishwasher and set them on the counter, and they can put away all of our silverware, mixing bowls, and other dishes.
4. Cook dinner
Yes, my kids cook dinner once a week. They choose the menu, shop for ingredients, and prepare the food mostly by themselves. We have certainly not been without our share of messes, and I do help them with some steps along the way when they need it, but for the most part they do it on their own. You can read more about that in this post (I'm planning to do an update on this soon as well):
5. Sweep the floors
Every now and then, probably about once a week, the girls help sweep the floor (especially under the dining table) with a brush and dust pan.
6. Water the plants
7. Put away clean laundry
An organized, easy-to-access closet is the key to enabling kids this age to take care of their own clothes! Here's my post on how I have their closet set up:
8. Put away toys
9. Take out the trash
They obviously can't carry the huge trash bags but they help me carry out smaller bags of trash or items to recycle to the larger garbage/recycling bins outside.
10. Make their beds
11. Clean up small messes
If they spill a little milk or something, I usually have them wipe it up with a rag themselves.
12. Get the mail
This is their favorite thing right now and they often fight over whose turn it is to get the mail! Unfortunately our condo complex recently switched over to locked mailboxes and our mailbox is now up a little too high for them to reach, so now I have to go with them and they carry the mail back to the house.
Did anything on this list surprise you? Fostering my daughters' independence and work ethic has been an important focus for me since the beginning, and including them in the upkeep of our home has been one of the main practical ways of doing that. I wrote a post a couple of years ago about the chores my then-3 year olds were doing, so if you've got younger kids around the house here's that post:
What other chores do your young kids do around the house? What is your opinion on how much kids should be expected to do around the house, and whether they should earn rewards or allowance for doing them? I am starting to think about if and when to start giving them an allowance, so I'd love to hear your thoughts- I know there is a wide range of opinions on these topics!