Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Train Them Up Well Already!


You're running around your house behind your kids, picking up stray socks, vacuuming, clearing dishes, wiping counters, putting silverware away, folding laundry, bla, bla, bla. Those pampered little princes/princesses are toiling away on Facebook, having a pattern block war on their bedroom floor, or watching iCarly for the 400th time this week.
Not you? Good. Move ahead 2 spaces.

No, just kidding. I know we've all done this at one time, wondering why it's US doing all the work. The answer is simple. Because kids don't have the first clue how to do chores. They must be taught. I did a little experiment with my 5 year old today to see just how much she could handle. Now, she's been trained up to do many things, so you'd have to start simply. But I think you get the idea. Seriously, if you think your kids cannot do anything, it's because you haven't taught them how.

I gave her the vacuum cleaner, an Oreck, not too heavy. Told her to do the best she could in the dining room, moving the chairs for her. She got about 1/3 of the way through, said it was too hard, I believe her lol. She does know how to work.

This needs to start when they are around 2. They must learn to pick up. They need to be shown over and over, ohhh, until they're about 18. Then you can send them and their junk packing if you want. (Disclaimer: your standards will never be met, it's "kid" clean, as my bf told me, get over it or toil away alone). So here's my list, certainly not exhaustive, of things kids CAN handle, from about age 2, to start them getting used to the idea of chores. Be aware that at age 2, you have to take their hand, put it on the item to pick up, move them to where it goes, shake the hand til it drops LOL. Repeat for each item. They'll get it.

2-3 yr. olds :
Can sweep with a small broom, toy or one from the Dollar Store.
Give a basket they can carry when full, show them how to pick up toys and put them in. Afterwards show them how to put them where they belong. Small steps, one thing at a time.
Have a low drawer of plastic ware that they use, cups, plates, bowls. Have them empty those things from the dishwasher into their drawer. If you have to actually hold the item in their hand, walk them to the drawer and put it in, so be it, just be calm and firm. Usually they love this chore though, my 3 yr old does.
This is a good age to let them learn to cut things. Play dough and a plastic knife, graduating to butter knife and a hot dog. This is such a great skill for a child to learn, to be careful with cutting! Anything a 3+ yr old can cut with a butter knife is invaluable experience.
Teach them to put small piles of clothes in their drawers. This is the start toward the day they will actually bring the piles from the laundry room! You’ll probably start by sorting and laying piles on their beds. My 5 yr old sorts, carries up and puts hers away herself, as do the older kids.
3-5 yr. olds
Put their dishes in the sink, as long as they're plastic, anyway.
Clean up into basket and put away. If a room is particularly messy, give them 1 type of toy at a time to put away.
Feeding animals.
Watering animals.
Watering plants.
Sweeping/vacuuming with a small enough vac, and no, it won't be done very well.
Vacuuming stairs.
Putting laundry away.
Using a vinegar and water solution and a small squirt bottle they can clean tables, counters, sliding doors…anything you can think of. Cabinet and drawer fronts, chairs, things that get cruddy and we hate cleaning lol. A chamois type micro fiber cloth works very well, or a sock on their hand. Make them step back and look at their work when they’re done so they can see where to “fix”.

These are just some ideas, I'm sure you can come up with plenty, I'd love to hear more of your ideas. At this point it's plenty of work for mom, but worth doing. Kids need and WANT to feel like contributing members of the house. They appreciate the praise, and feeling like they matter. I tell mine often that I cannot run this house well without their help. We're a team!

Next time I'll get into chores and responsibilities I think older kids can handle.


  1. I wish my OCD wasn't running rampid when my boys were young! lol. I have learned in my old age that some dirt/dust is not a bad thing. My sanity has been saved by this. You are so right about letting kids/boyfriends clean to the best of thier ability, even if it isn't "Your clean". lol. Your words of wisdom are from a good Mom! Good for you Audj. I wish you had your kids before me, so I could have copied some of your stuff!! :>)

  2. I second the vacuuming, Finn is obsessed with the broom, he sweeps for hours. He especially loves the stairs... today Daddy gave him the shop vac and he has been at it all day! I guess four year olds are just crazy enough to like cleaning ;)

  3. LOL Beth, I hear you, but lemme tell you, I"ve gleaned most of my wisdom from other moms, including AMY, who taught me the concept of RELAX lol.
    Laura, anything they want to do is great, it's when they all of a sudden realize they're working then ACK lol. THanks so much for the tips yesterday, btw!

  4. Madison puts her toys in their bucket and she's 11 months. :)

    Of course, she dumps them right back out, but at least she puts them in! lol
    She loves to put things on shelves, too.
    Soda bottles. Books. Toys. Phones. Cameras. You name it, it goes on the shelf. lol

  5. My kids both had to start doing their own laundry at 5. That was the age each was given a computer theory was if they could work a mouse, they could turn a knob! I marked the spot on the dial of each machine, provided a sturdy stool, and poured the detergent and as they got older they took it as fact that if they wanted clean clothes, THEY had to make it happen. At 11 & 15 now I don't even have to remind them. I am behind you 100% on start them young!