By Tracy Lane
“I am SO SICK of making their beds!” I think I almost growled it to my husband who was wondering why I was already so huffy at 6:45am. He offered a brilliant solution: Don’t make them anymore.
That sounds nice for the three other members of our family who go somewhere every day and forget about the undone housework left behind. But I work from home. I cannot think with unmade beds and a messy house, so leaving them unmade wasn’t an option.
My husband helped me realize though that I didn’t have to be the maker.
Our six-year-old had recently mastered her morning routine. Somehow as a first grader, she happily woke up, got dressed, brushed her teeth and hair, and waited at the breakfast table for us to tie her shoes…with about 20 minutes to spare. (In kindergarten, she spent those 20 minutes and more violently protesting the morning drudgery of itchy sock and too tight ponytails). Glad we are past that!
Our four-year-old was born cheerful. So even as her first year of Pre-K is underway, her bed to breakfast table timeline is under 15 minutes!
What to do with this newfound morning ease? We realized that meant that our girls were pros at their current responsibilities and we could give them a little more.
I told them they’d be making their own beds every morning from now on. Honestly, I thought they’d whine and fuss about their new chore. You know what they did instead? They smiled, made their beds, and asked what else they could help with.
Their responsibility made them feel valuable. It told them we trusted them. It showed them they are capable of contributing to our family and our home. They felt pride in taking care of their belongings.
Since then, we’ve implemented more chore routines. We should’ve done it years ago. I tried asking for little helps from them over the years, but I didn’t have the energy to assign regular roles. Now I see that I would’ve loved the help and they would’ve been cheerful helpers.
As the New Year brings new resolutions and ideas for your home, I’d encourage you to add chores for kids in your plans for this year. Here are a few age-appropriate ideas to get chores going in your home. We’re including a free printable from our friends who blog about parenting with a purpose. Print it and pin it up in your home to help your children learn to be great helpers.
- Begin to dress self.
- Load silverware into dishwasher.
- Feed pets.
- Put own toys away.
- Put dirty clothes in hamper.
- Bring in mail or newspaper.
- Water plants.
- Carry dish to sink after meals.
- Match socks in clean laundry.
- Help wipe up a spill.
- Dress self.
- Help in kitchen to prepare food. Stir, dry dishes, etc.
- Make bed.
- Clear dishes from table.
- Help put away groceries.
- Wash low walls or dust with sponge.
- Help load dishwasher.
- Hang towels after bath.
- Sort dirty clothes by color.
- Put away own clean clothes in drawers.
- Make bed.
- Clean bathroom completely.
- Rake leaves or shovel snow.
- Take out trash to dumpster.
- Use washer and dryer for laundry.
- Vacuum, sweep, or mop.
- Make own school lunch.
- Put away dishes.
- Weed garden.
- Straighten up house.
I realize some of these sound like much more than I’d think of for my own kids. But I also have seen that often my kids’ teachers require more of them than I would’ve thought they were ready for…and of course my kids were, in fact, ready. So let’s jump in and start giving our kids the privilege of contributing to our homes.
It’ll be good for you and good for them. The bedsheets might have a few more wrinkles than if you did it, but regular chores will empower your kids to take small responsibility now to be ready for bigger responsibility as they grow.
What do your kids help with around the house?