In our home chores start when you are very young. Addison at 19 months has a few things that are her "job" already. Hannah age 5 is a great help. I think it's the Amish who say by age 7 a child should be a blessing not a burden upon their family in the area of chores and I agree. Around 7 they can handle much more.
Our little ones start with helping Mama and Daddy. It's very positive, very cute and they are VERY proud. Addison throws out her own diapers (wet ones) and puts her clothes in the clothes shoot (along with many other things!). We walk beside her as she does this and praise her and clap. To her it's not a chore, it's a game! But we know it's a stepping stone to becoming a helper, a team player in our home.
When they start taking on real chores I walk beside them for the first week or so. I'll show them how, let them help, let them show me and then go it alone and I will check when they are done. Here's an example: All of our children's first "real" chore is emptying the bathroom trashes into the kitchen trash can. So the first time or two I do it and show them how to put it right back where it was and pick up anything that fell out. Then I help them carry it. When I think they got it I tell them to go ahead and I walk with them and watch and help. When they show they got it I let them go. When they are older it's basically the same process just much faster or broken down into steps to learn as they go. Carter recently learned to do laundry. When younger he was taught how to empty the dryer, then how to take the wet clothes out and put them in the dryer and turn it on. Later he learned to sort clothes for me. From there the jump to doing laundry was pretty easy. I taught him what temperature and how much soap and that was about all there was. I wash and sort very simply (I'll post on that maybe another day!).
We have also learned over the years that it's easiest to put chores around meal times. I don't know why that's true except for the fact that you always eat I guess so that time always happens. We do some things before breakfast and some after. Those two times hold most of our chores. Bedrooms are straightened, bodies are taken care of and the house is clean and ready for school. At lunch the boys have assigned chores in the kitchen of wiping counters and tables and sweeping the floor. At dinner we have a list of chores and they choose what they want. If two choose the same thing they "shoot for it" (rock paper scissors or odds and evens). The chores we have in place now keep our home in order and decently clean. If you are a clean freak you will not be comfortable looking too closely at my home. There are fingerprints on the windows and walls often and at times very dusty baseboards and ceilings, but, in general it is clean.
The nice thing now is if it's a week off of school or a lazy day the chores may not get done until afternoon or evening but it's such a routine/habit it USUALLY gets done. Thankfully my kids are morning people and even if I've overslept my 6:30am workout (which has been all this week!) and sleep in until 8:00 I am usually stirred awake by the noise of my dishwasher getting emptied! Chores and the regularity of them getting done has changed a lot over the last three years. The difference of a 13,10 and 7 year old and a 10,7 and 4 year old is HUGE!! Years ago I would see these other families so on track and feel like a loser. Now I realize it really does get better as they get older. I know that doesn't help if you have all younger ones now! I recently watched an update on the McCaughey septuplets (7) turning 13. I love watching them because her due date was very close to mine with my first pregnancy. She said something that I thought was so true, I'm not quoting exact here but something along the lines of, "When they're younger you can't see past the days like this. You wake up feeling like everyday is going to be just like this day. It feels that way but really everyday is changing and suddenly you look back and realize how quickly those days that seemed never ending are done!" The most true mommy statement I've ever heard!
Tomorrow I'll post our chore list we use but for now I'll leave you with a few ideas for little ones-
2 years old and up- (this is when we start "real" chores)
-empty bathroom trashes into the kitchen trash
-clear napkins and wipe chairs after meals
-help feed the cat or dog
-give a damp rag and have them wipe anything (if you're really daring give them a squirt bottle of water!)
-empty "kids stuff" out of the dishwasher
-empty the dryer and the lint trap
-feed cat or dog on their own
-sweep up Mama's pile of dirt with the little broom and dustpan
-help carry dirty clothes to the laundry room and help Mama or brothers sort clothes
-put the clothes Mama hands them into the dryer
-help cook! Learn to crack eggs and stir!
These ages are messy but fun. Having them work with you keeps them out of loads of trouble, makes them feel important and gives you lots of time to talk and tie those heart strings! Work together today!