Dan and I have always been in agreement that our kids will be expected to perform age appropriate chores. Not an unreasonable amount, but definitely a few responsibilities each day. We both grew up doing chores, and although we probably didn’t really like it from time to time (I don’t think anyone ever does), we see now how it benefited us.
I’m in no way an expert when it comes to kids; just like everyone else, I learn every single day, make mistakes every single day and go to be every single night hoping and praying that I made the right decisions. What I’m trying to say is don’t take my word for gold, I can only tell you how Aria doing chores has benefited her and our family and what process worked the best for us.
So, how did we go about setting chores for Aria? We didn’t, it just sort of happened. Since she could understand and carry out instruction (at about 1 year old), Aria has had to pack away her toys when she was done with them. Of course we helped her, but she understood the concept and learnt where everything belonged. In the beginning we would ask her just to pack away one or two things, like put her books in the bookshelf and pack away her blocks, Dan and I would do the rest. But as she got older we built on the concept. Now she knows (most of the time), that she needs to pack something away before she starts with something else. For example, if she has been playing with her LEGO and cars, she needs to pack them away in their containers before she starts to play with something else like her play dough. Does she do it every single time? Absolutely not. Does she do it perfectly every single time? Nope. I often still have to remind her, and sometimes even help her (especially when she’s tired), but that’s okay because she has still grasped the concept and let’s be honest, is still little (2.5 years old).
To be honest, I hadn’t even thought that what Aria was doing could be considered chores, but I suppose they are. Here is a list of things she is responsible for (I may be forgetting one or two):
- throwing her night time nappy in the dustbin
- putting her dirty clothes in the washing basket
- putting her dirty dishes in the sink (on the weekend she likes to do the dishes with her dad)
- cleaning up her toys
- putting her shoes in her cupboard (she can’t reach the other shelves just yet)
- help me carry her folded laundry to her bedroom
- pack away all her toys and books in her bedroom and playroom
- give the dogs their food in the morning
- fetch a cloth or wipe and clean up any mess she might make (like spilling her water, etc)
We didn’t ever have any specific chores in mind for Aria, we really just took note of what she showed some interest in, and went with that. I think as she gets a little bit older that will change. I mean, no one shows huge interest in packing and unpacking the dishwasher but it’s a chore that is age appropriate at a stage.
For us personally, giving Aria chores has been such a positive experience. We always make sure to say “thank you” once she has completed one of her chores and the look on her face is just priceless. Kids love positive affirmation and the feeling of accomplishing something and it goes a long way to really boost their self confidence. I also really think that at this age, they enjoy becoming more independent, and giving them the odd thing to do here and there really encourages that. And of course, this is such a great learning curve for kiddies, showing them what they are actually capable of doing, as well as the problem solving that comes along with it, is just priceless.
Some tips for you as a parent that I have learnt along the way:
- saying “please” when asking them to do a chore and “thank you” after they have completed it is so important, especially because it reinforces manners.
- make the chore experience a positive ones; give high 5’s, hugs,”you’re such a big girl” etc to make your kiddie feel extra special about helping out around the house.
- let your child see you do chores as well, it can be something small like making the bed, or something bigger like vacuuming. Remember that our kids mimic us.
- If you need to add some incentive for them to do their bit, there’s nothing wrong with that, especially if they are showing some resistance. I have often told Aria we can go to the playground down the road or 30min of TV if she completes xyz. Reward charts work like a bomb as well, I really like these ones from Melissa and Doug or these ones from Ziggy and Ella.
For me personally, chores are just a part of life and I am really glad that we started Aria out as early as we did, I think it has created a solid foundation that we can keep building on. Will she always like it? No. But she will always be expected to do them. Just like we were when we were kids.
Have you started giving your toddler chores yet? What things are they responsible for around the house?