Little kids love to help, so its a great idea to get them into the routine of doing chores while they are still young and willing to pitch in. Of course, this is often easier said than done — it can be hard for us grown-ups to watch them struggle while they’re still getting the hang of a new activity and so tempting to just do it all ourselves. However, establishing consistent chores is such a great way to teach responsibility and (eventually) take some of the weight off the grownups, so it really is worth the effort.
With a first grader and preschooler in the house, I’ve zeroed in on two strategies that have been key to our first chore success: keep it simple and be consistent.
I started by identifying a few easy chores each of them could manage on a daily basis. For little kids like mine in preschool or early elementary school, a few great daily chores include:
- Clearing dishes after meals
- Wiping down tables and counters
- Feeding a pet or watering plants
- Sweeping crumbs off the kitchen floor
- Putting dirty laundry in a hamper
Rather than just assigning the tasks, we had a family discussion where I suggested possible chores and they volunteered for a few tasks. Once we got the discussion started, they wanted to hep with just about everything. To avoid overwhelm, I helped them pair down their list to just three daily chores each.
To build excitement, I gave them each a few new “tools” related to their specific chores. Its amazing how excited they get about things like a special laundry hamper, their own mini dustpan or a reusable cloth for wiping tables. Having their own “chore gear” helps give them a real sense of ownership.
I put their names on the top of each chart and divided the boards into a “To Do” section and a “Done” section. Then I wrote their assigned chores on large magnets using an erasable marker. If their chores change, its easy to update the magnets. The charts hang in a prominent spot in our kitchen as a constant reminder. They get so excited about moving their magnet to the “Done” section. It may take some extra planning and patience to get the ball rolling, but seeing their pride when they complete their chores (and not having to do it all as a mom) is definitely worth the effort.