Sometimes I feel absolutely ridiculous writing about raising kids as if I know anything at all. I know my kiddos are young and that our theories and decisions will be inside out and upside down within years if not months. I know that what works today will most likely not work for long, but I’ll take it while it lasts.
I have read so many stories and ideas about “how to get your kids to do housework”. I have read about chore charts, reward systems, allowances, and other such ideas. And I’m fully aware that as the kids grow older, this idea of “doing something you don’t want” and “earning by working” will be useful.
But for now, it’s just not necessary.
They seem to understand that we are a team, and as a family we take care of our home. I have let them “play” in the world of chores from a young age and the sense of fun has carried over – sinks full of bubbles, spraying water and wiping it, tossing our decorative bed pillows at me as I make the bed (“I need pillow throwers!!!!!”). More often than not, we do these things together – working on a project as a team then moving onto the next one.
The kids don’t have chore lists, but just jump in whenever they are asked. The tasks range greatly each day, but some of the recurring/typical ones are as follows:
- Daniel (age 5) takes the recycling out, empties the dishwasher (utensils, mainly), sorts (and puts away) his clean laundry, sprays freshener, waters the plants, helps me dust the wood furniture and helps with bathrooms occasionally. He has started learning to vacuum.
- Violet (age 3) has begun sorting the silverware, gathers the dirty clothes, sorts her clean laundry, cleans bathrooms with me every time, “sweeps” before I mop and has begun washing kid dishes in a sink of suds.
(This photo is from one of my favorite posts on Daniel’s old blog…)
What’s amusing is how much they enjoy doing these things – at least, how little resistance they offer. Is it always super helpful? Of course not. Violet’s version of “cleaning the bathroom” consists of her spraying the cabinets and tub with a water bottle and wiping it with a rag (and often dripping it on the floor in giant invisible puddles, just waiting to be discovered by my sock). But at the age of three, I am only concerned with her understanding that cleaning can be fun.
We don’t call them “chores”, we don’t offer allowances for functioning as part of the family team (yet), and we don’t set the tasks up as “have to’s” before the real fun can start.
I know I’ll be eating all of these words soon, and that’s ok. But I’m so, so enjoying this stage of having willing helpers (especially when we’re all crammed into one tiny bathroom, belting out “Whistle While You Work”!).