It takes longer to teach a child to do a household task, but it's time well invested.
When we first moved to Ave Maria, Florida, my oldest was six. We immediately made friends with a family across the street whose children were similar ages. When we were at their house one day, my friend Anna told her 6-year-old to sweep up some crumbs.
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I was astonished. “He can sweep?” I asked incredulously. “Of course!” Anna replied. “Can’t Sienna?”
No, she could not. But she quickly learned, and I was permanently liberated from that most hated task.
Since then, I’ve gotten much better about teaching my children how to do household chores. It has the dual benefit of lightening my load and teaching them responsibility. But I’ve long struggled with what chores to teach them, and when.
Luckily, The Flanders Family has a free chart that shows age-appropriate chores for children, and you can print it out from their website. Behold:
Pretty cool, huh? Although some of these chores are not on our household radar (like carrying firewood because, Florida) I’ve found this to be a fairly accurate estimation of my own kids’ abilities.
One of my favorite 2- to 3-year-old chores is having them clean the baseboards. It’s a task perfectly suited to their height and hand-eye coordination, and while they don’t always do a fabulous job, it’s still more attention to the baseboards than they usually get.
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Additionally, I have found certain chores that aren’t on this list to be particularly suited to certain ages and personality types. I’m terrible at organization — I love to have clean counters, but the drawers and cabinets look like a tornado hit them.
My 11-year-old really likes organizing, and often takes it upon herself to organize a certain cabinet or drawer. I considered that an age-appropriate task for 10- to 11-year-olds until my 6-year-old, who is highly organized, surprised me by reorganizing the pantry one day.
They both did great jobs and were clearly proud of their contribution. The only downside is that they turned into little nazis when something was put back in the wrong place (usually by yours truly), but that kept the organization going a little longer than normal.
This chore chart is definitely a great baseline, but you’ll probably end up customizing it to your family’s particular needs and dynamics. And although it does take significantly longer to teach a child to do a task than to do it yourself, it’s time well invested. Eventually you’ll be able to go run errands on a Saturday and come back to find the chores all done, and done well.
And that, my friends, is truly liberation.