As parents, it is our job to teach our kids financial responsibility and independence. One excellent way to do this is with chores at home. For our family, this is something we’ve been experimenting with a lot recently.
About six years ago, on a random Friday evening, I came home from a long day of work. To my surprise, I saw my 5-year-old daughter vacuuming our kitchen.
I asked my wife what our little one was up to, but she was just as perplexed as I was.
During the previous year, we’d been helping our daughter to do her chores every Saturday morning, but she never had taken the initiative to do them on her own.
After she finished vacuuming, she asked us to leave the kitchen while she put away the silverware. She told us that she wanted it to be a surprise.
We let this cleaning frenzy go on for another 15 minutes before we stopped her and asked, “Why are you doing your chores today?”
She said, “I love you. I want to help the family.”
When those words came out of her mouth, my heart filled with such pride and love. Our little girl understood what it meant to be a part of our family.
We don’t just express our love through words. We also express our love through action.
Now, were the spoons on top of the forks when she was done? Yes.
Did she vacuum every last Cheerio on the ground? No.
But at 5 years old, we’re not looking for perfection. We’re just looking for her to understand why it’s important to help and how her effort means a lot to us.
Fast forward to today, my daughter is now 11 and I’m happy to report that not only is she still doing her chores, but she’s extremely helpful.
It’s not just cute anymore. The chores she does actually make our lives more relaxing and peaceful.
She knows how to wash, dry and fold her clothes. In addition, she fills the bird feeder, empties the dishwasher, takes the garbage to the street, fills the cat dishes, vacuums the kitchen and so much more.
We’re raising a responsible, family-centric, independent girl. And I’m so proud of her.
And her younger brother is watching her, learning from her and contributing in the same way.
Benefits Of Kids Doing Chores
There are so many benefits of kids doing chores at home. I shared some personal benefits already, but here are some more.
- You are teaching your children that being a part of a family means everyone contributes.
- They learn the importance of teamwork and collaboration (crucial skills for life).
- Eventually, their chore skills get better and better and before you know it, you’re a lot less swamped as a parent.
- While chaos may seem to be the MO for kids, structure is what they crave.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Structure helps parents and their kids. Kids feel safe and secure because they know what to expect. Parents feel confident because they know how to respond, and they respond the same way each time. Routines and rules help structure the home and make life more predictable.”
Chores At Home Are Falling Out Of Favor
With all the benefits associated with chores for kids, it appears to be falling out of favor in our society.
According to a recent survey by BusyKid, they found that while more than 90% of parents say they did chores as a child, only 66% of them regularly have their own children do chores.
That honestly doesn’t surprise me.
The mindset from parents might be something like this, “Well, I want my kids to have it better than I did when I was a kid. And so they don’t need to do chores.”
This is the wrong mindset in my opinion. And there’s research back it up.
A 75-year Harvard Grant and Glueck study followed two groups of people: 268 Harvard graduates from the classes of 1939 through 1944, and 465 men who grew up in poor inner-city neighborhoods in Boston.
The study participants were observed for over a 75 year period.
What did they find?
“The researchers found that those who were given chores as adults ended up being more independent, better able to work in collaborative groups, and better able to understand that doing hard work means you’re a valuable member of a community.”
Those are the type of kids I want and those are the types of community members I want as well. Chores are good for kids.
Getting Started With Chores For Kids
Helping your kids learn the importance of contributing to the household responsibilities is a big deal. That’s why it’s important to be in lock step with your spouse on the chore rules and schedule.
It takes teamwork and consistency from both parents to help make this life-changing tradition become a habit for your children.
Here are some of the things to discuss upfront with your spouse:
- What are the chores we feel are appropriate for our child?
- Which chores should we pay for and which ones should we not pay for?
- When is the best time and day to complete these chores?
When we started this whole chore and reward program, my wife and I agreed that our kids would have both “Family Chores” and “Money Chores.”
Family Chores are activities that our kids do as members of the family.
Some of these chores include putting dirty clothes in the hamper, setting the table before dinner, clearing dishes after meals and making the bed.
Money Chores are contributions that go above and beyond typical responsibilities.
Our 5-year-old would receive $1 for each of her money chores.
Some of those activities where she got cash included putting away the silverware, emptying the trash receptacles around the house and putting away her laundry (after Mom and Dad folded it).
We found that Saturday morning was the best time to complete the Money Chores with our kids.
In the years that followed, we all agreed that after school would be a better time so the weekends could be set for total relaxation. I’d suggest doing whatever works for your family.
We do our best to stay consistent with a schedule so it becomes the normal way of life for our kids. When our kids get home from school, they know they have to complete their chores. They are used to it at this point.
My now 11-year-old daughter doesn’t require many reminders at all anymore. My 8-year-old son requires a bit more encouragement, but he’s gotten so much more responsible over the last year. Watching his older sister helps a lot.
Do we miss a couple of days here and there? Absolutely.
But overall, the regular schedule has helped our kids succeed and truly bring a sense of harmony to our home.