I have heard old timers tell stories of chores they had to do before and after school at an early age.
- A three year old that had to go get eggs from the chicken coop each day.
- A five year old that had to milk the cow morning and night.
- A seven year old that had the sole responsibility of feeding animals.
- A ten year old that drove the tractor for hours every summer.
- A twelve year old that watching their siblings for 3 days while their parents went out of town.
I think to myself, “that last one would get CPS called on you today!”
“Back in the day” kids were hard workers on their farms from a very early age. If they were tall enough or strong enough to do it, it was expected of them to contribute fully in the household.
Things today are a little different. First off, less and less people are raised on farms. Many farms have failed and those people move into the city or suburbs for work.
Also, many of the kids that grew up in this harsh environment vowed they wouldn’t do this to their own children. They wanted to give their kids everything they never had, including a more relaxing childhood.
Now we are a couple of generations removed from that time and the pendulum has swung the other way. We went from kids being the main source of labor on a family farm to kids that spend most of their time indoors with entertainment to keep them busy.
Of course there are still farms out there that have kids doing tons of work every day. But they aren’t the norm.
So how do we find the happy medium between child labor and lazy kids? There has to be some middle ground, right?
In my opinion, household chores fill this need. So let’s discuss chores and how we implement them at our house.
Why are household chores important in childhood?
Children who are expected to fulfill household chores gain much from the experience, even if they don’t think so at the time. Here are just a few of the things chores do:
- teaches kids how to work and the value of work
- gives kids more appreciation for what their parents do
- teaches kids valuable life skills they will need to know when they are adults
- makes kids more aware of the messes they make (when they have to clean them up)
- helps them be able to contribute to the household in a positive way
How do we know what chores our kids can do?
When our kids are little, it is hard to know what kind of chores our kids can handle. Obviously, a five year old isn’t going to mow the yard just yet.
Here is a great infographic from Becky at Your Modern Family. I think it helps to see what kids can do at each age so we know that even when they whine, they aren’t being asked to do more than they can handle.
If you have kids with mental or physical disabilities, you can start with something small. Anything they can do to help make the household run smoothly can become a source of pride for this type of child. Often they aren’t expected to tackle responsibilities of this nature, so give them a chance.
What chores do our kids do every week?
We have three teenage boys. They have a rotating chore list that keeps everyone from getting bored or frustrated with their chores week after week.
Week One: Animals
This includes feeding one dog, two cats (and cleaning up their litter box), chickens and rabbits.
Week Two: Kitchen
This includes unloading and loading the dishwasher, washing the big dishes (and putting them away the next day) and wiping off the counters each day.
Week Three: Trash
This includes cleaning out the trash cans around the house, taking trash to the large trash can outside when needed and taking that can down to the end of the driveway and back again each week. We also include cleaning the boys bathroom with the trash duties once that week.
They also need to do individual chores like their laundry, making their bed and cleaning their room. But let’s face it, those things are hit and miss depending on the day/week.
Do we pay kids for chores?
There are obviously at least 2 sides to this argument, so do whatever you think is best. You are the parent.
Here is what we do at our house:
Normal daily chores (they alternate between the 3 boys each week): no pay.
Extra chores (discussed with the parents before hand): pay.
This allows the kids to have chores each day that they are expected to do without pay (or whining). Then if they want to earn extra money, they can negotiate with the parent for other things that need to be done.
This is the happy medium we have come to at our house, but it doesn’t mean it is the only way. Do whatever works for your family.
I don’t want to raise lazy kids.
They already live in a world where they don’t have to go to the library to look up stuff (Google), they have phones in their hands constantly, and they can watch any movie or play video games without leaving home.
I hope these chores give them some idea of how to run a household and take care of their basic needs. I hope they also understand how to take care of animals and what it is like to have another living being depend on you for their survival.
Some people may not think that the chores my kids do are hard enough. That’s okay.
It’s not a competition. Find what works for your family and your kids will be better for it.
Do your kids do lots of chores or just a few? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!