I believe children should have chores to do. I think it helps teach them responsibility, and can teach them to be joyful, diligent workers for the Lord as they get older. Housework doesn't need to be monotonous drudgery. It can be fun. I personally love organizing and putting things away. Three of the most relaxing homemaking chores for me, are putting away groceries, putting away laundry, and emptying the dishwasher. My least favorite chores are cleaning toilets and vacuuming, but even those aren't too bad.
Depending on your children's ages and capabilities, you can decide what types of chores they can have. I think it is important to teach them early on, about taking good care of their things and their living areas, so keeping their rooms clean is a good start.
As soon as my children could walk and understand, I taught them to put their toys away in their toy boxes. That's the first chore. At around age 2, I may give the child a spray bottle of water and a clean washcloth, and let him or her wipe things down with me. They usually love doing that.
As my children get/got older, they get different or more chores, and it shows them that as they get older, they are trusted with more.
When your child is old enough to sweep the floor, they are probably old enough to:
- Wipe down sinks
- Clean tables and counters
- Wipe down the outside of the toilet (make sure they know to wash their hands when they are done. Explain germs to them.)
In my home, while I'm doing my usual daily cleaning chores, I have one or more chores assigned to each child. On some days, we are working outside. Perhaps I'll be working on the garden, so I may have a few of the kids picking up after the dog in the yard, and a few more cleaning rabbit cages. Part of the deal of our getting pets, was that the kids would play a large part in taking care of them. They have been doing wonderfully, and love caring for the animals.
Indoor work - Perhaps I'm polishing mirrors and dusting. At this time, one child may be wiping down all sinks, another cleaning all tables and counters, another wiping down the children's toilet, and another vacuuming their bedroom. You see, many things in my house get cleaned almost every day - by different family members. I have what is considered by today's standards, to be a large family. If we don't stay on top of the cleaning, things get messy rather fast. The guest/children's toilet gets cleaned at least three times a week, the living room and hallway get vacuumed almost every day, counters and sinks are usually wiped down and cleaned daily, and living areas dusted four or more times a week.
Each home and family is different, so if you are looking for some chores for your children, you'll need to consider your own family's needs, and go from there. Below, I can give you some tips on coming up with, and dividing up children's chores:
1. First, look at your own cleaning chores that you do regularly. Are there some chores that you can only get to once a week, but that need done more often? Consider assigning some of these to your children.
2. Are their certain areas of the home that a certain child makes and leaves a mess in? Assign special cleaning of that area to said child.
3. Make a list of chores, using steps one and two for your children. Then, divide up those chores between your children, on rotating days. Give them (and yourself) the weekends off. Some chores may not be appropriate for younger children. Very young children may need to be given a few nominal chores to do, while the big kids are finishing up their chores. Little ones like to work hard like their older siblings, so let them dust, wipe things down with a bit of water, organize your mixing bowls, etc.
In addition to cleaning chores, I believe that children should be responsible for their own room chores. Every morning, they should get dressed, make their beds, and clean their rooms. If your children are very young, then you or an older sibling will need to help them, but let them do as much of it as they can on their own. Don't expect perfection out of them, and praise them for their work, even if it's a bit sloppy. They'll get better at their chores as they get older.
After meal times, don't let the children scatter. Assign everyone table chores. If you have several children, then you may have rotating days, where only certain children do table chores on certain days. If you have six or less children (and a big enough kitchen) then everyone can chip in to get the kitchen cleaned in a matter of minutes.
- Someone can wipe the table and counter, and straighten the chairs
- Someone can sweep the floor
- Someone can rinse the dishes
- Someone can load the dishwasher
Many hands make light work. This is true.
Don't forget about laundry. Young children can help you fold, sort, and put away laundry. As soon as you notice that they have the hang of folding laundry, start letting them fold and put away their own laundry. They won't be so neat at it in the beginning, but let them do it anyways. They'll get better at it as they get older. When the child is ready, you can teach them how to do their own laundry. My children generally start doing their own laundry at about age 5. I supervise them on putting in the soap and starting the washing machine, until they are older.
Your children are observing you. They are seeing what they are supposed to be like when they are adults. Make sure they see you doing your work with a good attitude and a light heart. By showing Christian diligence and a good work ethic, your children will develop the same traits of good character.
While doing chores together, talk, laugh, and sing. Enjoy each other's company. Give thanks to the Lord that you have things to clean.