Parenting: How Much Should Kids Do Around the House?

parentinghome management

How much should we ask our kids to do around the house? This is a question I get a lot when I’m speaking to mom groups and let me tell you, everyone has a different opinion on this.

After working with hundreds of families over the years in my organizing business while raising my own twins, I’ve seen the whole “chores” spectrum. There are the parents who don’t require their kids to lift a finger and the ones who have their kids doing their own laundry by age seven. There are chore charts, reward systems, punishment systems, payment systems, and open bribery (pleaaasseee Johnny, help mommy and I’ll buy you ice cream).

Post-its stuck on a fridge with chores listed

How Much Should Kids Do Around the House?

I have made so many mistakes when it comes to my kids, but when it’s all said and done, here’s what I’ve decided:

1.Basic Responsibilities

There are basic responsibilities that each person in the family has just because we live here. No other reason. You live here, so you have some things you’ve got to do.

These basic things are unique to your family, but they are daily tasks that contribute to running the house. In our home they are: make your bed, put your clothes in the hamper every time, and put things away that you use, toys included.

2. Chore List

At each age, starting at age 2, kids can have a chore list. This is extra to your basic responsibilities and you may decide if they get paid for these chores—it’s totally up to you. We pay for the chores, but not for basic responsibilities. Each year of my twin’s lives, they have had chores and now that they are teens, the chores are bigger. Each day or week these chores must be done or we deduct from their payment or allowance. Just like a job, if you don’t do it, you don’t get paid your full pay. No bargaining. Some have argued that kids have a lot on their plates with school and sports and other commitments, and I agree; our kids are busier than ever. Still, participating in the functioning of a home isn't punishment, it's the contribution of living in a home. And these skills are for life.

Teaching kids these two levels of daily tasks and chores has a million life lessons in them. But not doing them teaches them two: someone else will do things for me and that someone is usually mom! Listen moms, you are giving yourself and your child a gift when you teach them basic living responsibilities. They will make better spouses, better roommates, and most of all, you won’t be the one doing everything it takes to run a home. Bottom line: kids can do much more if we’ll let them.

Do you have your kids do chores in your house? What types of chores are they responsible for?

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Amy started Simplified Living 8 years ago when she wanted to stay home with her kids, but still make money. It has grown to now include not only home organizing, but corporate organizing and productivity training. Amy regularly speaks to large groups, has a TV segment on the Hampton Roads Show called Organize Your Life, and blogs about how to Live Better on her website, Amy is a Registered Nurse by trade, was a Navy Officer and corporate trainer after leaving the Navy, and has always had a knack for organizing! She has 13-year-old twins, Mallory and Riley, has been married to Dave for 19 years. She lives in Virginia Beach and loves shoes, coffee, and books.

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5 responses to “Parenting: How Much Should Kids Do Around the House?”

  1. Sarah says:

    We just revamped our chore list for our 7 year old this spring. He now has his basic chores that he has to do to get his allowence, feed dog, set table, put away folded clothes; then he has an extra set that he can earn more money by completing. These include vacuuming the car, pulling weeds and helping do the dishes.

    I think it helps kids to have some sense of responsiblity in helping with the household, without making it feel like a complete job.

  2. Love this, Amy! It’s so true that we are NOT doing them any favors when we let kids get away without contributing to the running of the house. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that while it’s HARDER to teach them to do a chore (and I have to LET GO of perfection), it’s part of my job as a mom to do that.

    Our kids have regular daily and weekly chores. They are written on index cards and the kids can swap them if they want – as long as they all get done. One of the Saturday ‘chores’ I wrote on each child’s stack of index cards is my favorite of all. It reads: “Ask Mom and Dad if there is anything else you can do to help today.” I love this because not only does it feel great to hear that from three little mouths every week, it also teaches them to always be looking for ways to help others – not to simply ‘do your part’ and then go off and play.

    Thanks for sharing these tips, Amy!

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  5. Shelley says:

    While I would agree these decisions are usually up to parents and how much their children can handle. However, an unfortunate situation happened with my grandchildren and CPS became involved. The government has a whole different perspective on this and if you cross the line they claim it is parentification. So I am trying to help my daughter create the chores for her children without crossing that boundary. It is very difficult and I can’t find anything on line that would assist us and nothing was covered in the parenting classes either. Can anyone offer additional assistance on this?

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