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Get them started early!

Want to ensure that your 30-something child isn't still living at home and expecting to be waited on hand preschooler vacuumingand foot?

Get them started early with household chores.

Toddlers and preschoolers especially love to help. It is a great time to get them involved in helping out around the house, keep them from getting bored, and teach them new skills. It may take longer to do some things, but I'm convinced that it is worthwhile in the end (another example of long-term parenting). So far we've been doing this on an ad hoc basis, but am thinking of formalizing it more soon by giving our son some regular chores to take care of each day.

Some of the things that our 3 year old has enthusiastically helped out with are:

  • Putting away the cutlery when unloading the dishwasher (take out any sharp knives first)

  • Dusting

  • Feeding the cat

  • Setting the table (again, do the sharp knives yourself)

  • Making pairs out of clean socks

  • Helping with baking and cooking (generally dumping things into bowls, stirring, putting the little paper cups into the muffin tin)

  • Putting the clothes into the dryer (we have a front loading dryer)

  • Handing me clothes pegs when we're line drying things

  • Helping out with renovation jobs by passing nails, screws or tools to Daddy

  • Shovelling snow

  • Vacuuming (see the picture...he literally grabbed the vacuum away from Daddy and insisted on finishing the job for him)

The one thing that we consistently have trouble getting him to do is cleaning up his own toys. He gets distracted playing with them while cleaning them up, so the process takes a long time and requires a lot of reminders. But everything else he is happy to help out with.

As our kids get older, I expect to have a list of chores that each of them is responsible for and plan to rotate them so that they both learn how to do all aspects of the household. There won't be any gender bias in the way that chores are handed out because I think it is important to teach girls to do physical jobs, outdoor jobs, and renovation projects and it is important to teach boys to help out around the house, clean, do laundry, and so on.
« Cry it out (CIO): Is it harmful or helpful? | Main | Feminist motherhood »

Reader Comments (5)

Ooh! I don't know what stage of 3 yours is in, but mine is almost 4 (this month). About 2 months ago I taught him how to fold towels. He can now fold all the towels, wash cloths, hand towels, etc... He also picks up his room each night and picks up anything in the way of the vacuum cleaner before I vacuum. He's learning! I agree with you on teaching them early. You're doing great!

August 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjoz1234

My son is 20 months, and I already involve him in household chores. Our laundry basket is not in the laundry room, so when I do laundry, he hands me the clothes out of the dirty clothes basket so I can put them in the washer. I hand him the wet clothes from the washer to be placed in the dryer, which he does. He is also required to pick up his own clothes, and if his plate is empty, he attempts to put it in the dishwasher. When I wipe the table, he also gets a rag to wipe the table. The list is extensive!

It's not always the quickest way to get things done, but he is learning important life skills, IMO. What I get a kick from is the shock of friends and family that he knows how to do these tasks.

August 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

Oh I laughed and laughed at this picture. Strangely my girls hate cleaning. My son on the other hand likes nothing more than "creening" which he does with a paper towel and some water. He will get down on the floor to do this. It's a bit cinderella-esque, watching him push the paper towel the floor, but I figure I'm helping women everywhere. Someday his wife will thank me.

August 20, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertarastar

[...] and as they get older we will have to figure out the best way to manage that. At the moment, they love to help with some things (unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming, matching socks, setting the table) and don’t like other [...]

November 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMoney money money money…

[...] and as they get older we will have to figure out the best way to manage that. At the moment, they love to help with some things (unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming, matching socks, setting the table) and don’t like other [...]

February 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMoney money money money…

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