Training Our Children to Help with Household Chores

Child helping with household choresIn the days when our children were little, I used to jokingly wish we could afford to hire a maid once in a while to help with routine household chores.

Well, that maid never made her appearance. Instead, we decided to hire our own boys. Why not pay them to do work that we would be willing to pay someone else to do? Suddenly our live-in mess-makers became live-in maids (or butlers?) as well!

Initially it took time to train them, and then to encourage them and inspect their work, but it turned out to be a good investment of our time. At ages 8, 6, and 4, our boys were doing almost all the laundry chores, caring for animals, cleaning sinks, vacuuming and dusting, emptying wastebaskets, helping with meals, and quite a few other jobs that merely require diligence, time, and a little training. As parents, we gained extra time for other responsibilities, and we greatly appreciated the much-needed help in times of illness or extra pressure.

We didn’t pay the kids very much, and we had them do some chores without pay, just because that’s part of contributing to the household. But we did pay them for some of these extra duties. Not only did we gain their help, but paying them gave us the opportunity to teach them many valuable lessons about working and money.

The boys learned many things:

  • Diligence and faithfulness in doing a job well
  • Skills in performing many household duties
  • How to save money
  • How to tithe
  • How to spend money wisely
  • The reality of no money when they didn’t work
  • How to identify different coins and their value
  • Addition, subtraction, and multiplication
  • Training as an employee

The Service Opportunities chart helped us with this process. We developed and used this simple chart with our four oldest starting when they were ages 8, 6, 4, and 2, and we were amazed at the amount of time it saved us!

Do you involve your children in household chores? What has worked best for you?

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  1. My son is 3 and a half. Just yesterday, I asked him if he wanted to help me clean the bathrooms. To my surprise, he said “yes” in the most excited way! So, he helped. Not perfectly, of course, but I showed him what to do and he did it. And, you know what? We had the BEST time! Definitely going to keep doing this. I plan on requiring some chores be done without pay, simply because he’s a part of our household, but I do want to assign extra chores and pay for those – as you’ve said.

  2. Ruby’s dish job is putting away the glasses. It’s actually really fun to work with her!

  3. This is a timely post! I have been thinking over this subject a lot lately. Just a couple of days ago I took our boys (4, 3, and 1) to the dollar store to get them each a set of their own “cleaning tools.” They are so excited about their baskets of supplies, and so eager to help! Yesterday, they exclaimed when getting up in the morning, “It’s cleaning day!” They mopped the kitchen alongside my husband, then went out to swab the deck! 🙂 I am really looking for ways to draw them alongside us as we work and to equip them with skills and perseverance. Thank you for this post!

  4. Our oldest are 4 & 5, and we recently had our 3rd in February. When our baby was born earlier, my 5 yr old daughter one day started folding clean laundry that was piling up on our couch. She said she loved to do it, and she was actually doing a very good job of folding all the clothes. I praised her for how well she was doing and told her that would be her job from now on, because that was one way she could be a big help around our house. Now, she does everything except start the washer & fold large items like sheets & bath towels. My husband has to go away for extended periods of time, so this summer I spent a little time teaching both of our older children some extra chores to do while “Papa” is away. Our 4 yr old son feeds our dog, empties the smaller trash cans, and wipes down the counters in the bathrooms. Our daughter, in addition to doing the laundry, cleans the sinks & toilets in our bathrooms, helps soothe the baby if he’s fussy, especially while riding in the car, and helps me with dinner preparations. They both LOVE it most days & beg to have more “jobs” around the house. It’s been a huge help to me, and it’s been very exciting to see how much they enjoy helping around the house. Plus, now that they’re doing more of the chores, I can get other things done while they work, so we’re all able to spend more time together playing or doing school after they’ve finished their chores. 😀

  5. I find it realy hard to allow my boys 8,6 & 2 to help due to the fact that it would probably mean more work for me, I have a back problem & find doing the household chores hard anyway (I get help once a week) add in having to possibly go over what they have done again just seems too much right now! I probably am a bit of a control freak too with the way I like things to be done, not a good mix! Any help or advice in this area would be greatfuly received.