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assigned kids chores


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I know not everyone does chores for kids, since I was browsing the old topics trying to get ideas, but I have trouble just not giving my kids chores... only I don't know how to do something that works and that will continue to work past the first week! 



So for those of you who have kids help with chores, how do you do it? one chore a day? one cleaning day a week? my kids are young - 6, 3, and 18 months. 


How do I set up a routine that works for me and them?


I know part of my problem is that I am so used to cleaning a tiny house and now we live in a single family that feels soooo much bigger and I'm quite overwhelmed by the amount of cleaning there is to do.


Suggestions please?! I know how to clean I just don't know how to get into a workable routine that I can fit the kids into also!


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At that age I think you probably need to work with them on stuff.  I bought my girls small broom-and-dustpan sets and they gradually learned how to sweep the floor; around age 6 it became "their chore" to do without help (though they still don't really do it right).  Other tasks like dusting and putting away dishes could work like that.


Follow them around during the morning/evening routine to get them in the habit of putting their plates in the sink/dishwasher, putting their dirty clothes in the hamper, wiping the bathroom sink after washing/brushing, etc.  This will hopefully reduce the overall workload for you.


You could start using a chore chart and see if that works for you.


I hate to say this, but it will be a long time before your kids lighten your cleaning load.  In the mean time, it is going to take you [much] longer to do your chores because you are teaching as you go.

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I have never worked with a chore schedule, because I myself do not do household tasks on schedule, but rather as needed. So, my kids are asked to help out with tasks as help is needed: load/unload dishwasher, take laundry from the clothesline - these things don't happen on a schedule in our house.

DD likes to help out bake and cook and will readily take over meal prep when I ask her.


They are solely responsible for their rooms and bathrooms.


ETA: I have a pretty good sized house and do not find that cleaning takes all that much time. Not having clutter or furniture whose purpose is solely decorative makes cleaning very quick and easy.

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Training is key. For children the ages of yours, you are going to want to work with them for quite awhile, then instruct step by step before you expect them to perform the job independently. They can do lots of helpful things but they need training and lots of repetition to be successful.


The game changer for us was assigning jobs for a longer term. For whatever reason I thought jobs should change weekly. I guess I felt that would give variety and limit the feelings of dissatisfaction and consequent complaints when doing a hated job. The one week period didn't work for us.


I learned that keeping a job for a month allowed me to fully train for the job. It allows the kids to master each job. And, this is huge, when it's their turn to do a job again they remember what to do. This makes any retraining minimal.


Rotating jobs at our house are washing dishes, putting dishes away, loading the dishwasher, taking out garbage and recycling, sweeping, and vacuuming. Lots of other jobs are more or less permanent. Those still require training for mastery, occasional retraining and lots of praise.

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Bed making. Daily


The six year old can pull the sheets and comforter up.

The 3 year old can put the pillow on top.

The 18-month old can put the teddy bears/dolls on top.


They all helped.  Mom doesn't get to nick pick, and straighten things up.


When it's time to change sheets.


The 18-month old can put the teddy bears/dolls someplace safe in that room.

The 3 year old can wrestle the pillow case off the pillow

The six year old can strip the bed and put the sheets into the basket.

Mom carries the basket down to the washing machine (I bought a rolling cart and the kids pushed it)

I would measure the soap and each child could put it into the machine (rotate through each child or who owns sheets they are they get to put the soap in)

The 18-month old can put the fabric sheet into the dryer.

The 3 year old can be in charge of telling you when the dryer is done.

The six year old can pull all the stuff out of the dryer.

Mom carries the basket down to the bedroom.

Mom puts the fitted sheet on.

The 6 year old can try to learn to put the pillow case back on the pillow.

The 3 year old can help with the flat sheet.

Mom tucks it in at the foot of the bed.

The 6 year old can help with the comforter.

Mom tucks it in at the foot of the bed. (I tucked the comforter's in under the mattress so that it was easier to just tug up the comforter when making the bed)

The 3 year old puts the pillow on top.

The 18-month old puts the teddies and dolls back on top.

The bed is made.


Insert giggles and tent making, wrapping up babies in warm sheets and pretending to tickle them, Mommy falling asleep and the kids waking her up.  Make it fun, silly and do each step the same way.

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My kids are 5.5, 4.5, and 18 months and each of them has chores they are responsible for but I don't call them chores.  I call them family responsibilities and try to focus on them doing it as a way to keep the family functioning properly so we are all happy.  They do not have set things daily aside from cleaning up after themselves. Their other tasks vary depending on the day, state of the house, and the needs of the family.  


18 month old can put laundry in the laundry basket, put the dogs food down in the right spot when a sibling scoops for him, help set and clear table when told what to specifically get and where to put dirty dishes.  


4.5 and 5.5 year old can set and clear the table, feed the dogs, let the dogs out, vacuum, wipe down surfaces, put their laundry away even if it mean hanging on hangers, make beds, direct younger brother to set table, dry dishes, put dishes away, and some other things.


5.5 year old can do dishes by hand with help, make breakfast for everyone with help unless he's making oatmeal, make sandwiches, and some other things.


They don't do all those things in one day, but do at least a few of them a day as needed.  Of course at those ages they still need guidance pretty often with newer tasks. But the older 2 have setting and clearing table and feeding the dogs down entirely. the rest just depends on the day and their mood


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ETA: I have a pretty good sized house and do not find that cleaning takes all that much time. Not having clutter or furniture whose purpose is solely decorative makes cleaning very quick and easy.

This is where I am trying to get to!! Clutter makes everything take so much longer!! I've been purging my house of stuff for the last week or so. And making sure everything has a place to go and a purpose

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We had more of a chore schedule as they got older, but at young ages, they all helped pick up toys, put dirty laundry in hampers, and brought dishes to the sink. The six year old can put away clean silverware. My littles LOVED dusting. I did not expect perfection. They can also sort and fold laundry, especially small items like socks, wash cloths, and hand towels.


If you declutter (a never ending process!) it will be much easier for you. They do not need a million different toys. They don't need 30 dolls and 60 stuffed animals. Keep toys sorted into bins or baskets that the kids can easily fill. Besides toys, get rid of anything you don't need and don't love.


We always had routines but not a strict schedule. When school was done for the day, we put school stuff away. In the late afternoon we did a general pick up. If everyone helps out, it goes so much faster. We put on lively music and tried to see how much we could get done before the song ended.

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First we worked on then cleaning up all the toys every night. One in a while I bring them in for a pointer or two, but generally I'm satisfied with their effort. This isn't a chore, just part of the bedtime routine.


When housekeeping started to feel overwhelming I made a big, rotating list of chores, based on the things I needed help with and what they were capable of. So the kitchen floor gets swept a few times a week. It isn't perfect, but much better than when I wasn't able to get to it at all. Similarly, the toilets get regular attention. One chore a day on top of school, clean-up, etc. has been enough. I may add more if it makes sense later. Every so often I re-jigger the list. It is a 6 week rotation right now. The variety helps my kids, although many of the chores repeat over that time.


They will also do other work as I ask them, which is great.

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I randomly declare "chore time" into the plan for the day. (ex: "Ok, after breakfast will be chore time, then bike riding.") Then I somewhat flexibly assign something to each child and some things to myself -- I work near/with smaller kids and send bigger ones to individual chores. I never expect kids to co-operate on a chore unless I am right there and we are all co-operating.


After the chore(s) are over we all reward ourselves and carry on with out day.


Other sorta-chores, like keeping their own stuff tolerably neat falls under other management systems. Most notably: "If Mama is making supper, and all the kids' stuff is tidy, and the table is ready, you may start free screen time until you are called for supper."


Also, I'm currently teaching a "shoulder check" before walking away from areas, and the practice of putting things "from hands to away" (not setting things down then cleaning up later) which are slowly becoming semi-effective habits as we work on them.

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If you haven't had the older two working beside you helping, then you need to do that for a while with the 6 year old.  You'll need to keep the 3 year old nearby helping for a few years. We assign and post chores for the month when they're 6.  They work along side me in the preschool years.


They could each use a spray bottle of diluted cleanser or just water as preschoolers with mild cleansers upset some mothers.  Give them a cleaning cloth and a feather duster.  Kids love feather dusters;they'll dust everything in sight including the cat who also likes feather dusters.   Buy a canister vacuum and supervise the vacuuming. Move all your table setting dishes to the lower cabinets so your children can unload the dishwasher. Put locks on them if you need to and unlock them when the 6 year old helps you put breakable dishes away.  First you unload all the sharps and breakables, then the children 2 and older can put the plastic cups in one big plastic bin on the lower cabinet shelf, the plastic plates in another bin, the plastic bowls in another bin, etc.


We have a list of every day chores and a list of weekly chores for each kid.  Those are assigned for the month.  When they were school aged and not attending class outside the home and  working, each day had a single weekly (or bi-weekly) chore assigned with the usual daily chores.   When I was  homeschooling 3 of them full time, taking them to art class, PE, Tae Kwon Do, piano lessons, archery practice, church small group and youth group, etc. etc. etc.  I found it far simpler to keep to a routine and a chore schedule.  I didn't want to have to figure out who should do what on the fly all the time.  If everyone kept up with it most of the time, I didn't have many times when I had to assign something on the spot. My house was and is usually presentable.  Also, I wanted weekends free and company ready, so when I scheduled in weekly chores, I planned it out so my house was presentable by dinner time on Friday every week.  Everyone knew exactly what they had to do and when they had to do it.  I just rotated the chores every month between them.


We had morning chores, after meal chores, and after school chores 5 days a week. Now a few things get done on Saturday because of work and activity schedules.



More discussion about chores




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