Some parents might think I’m cruel or strict, making my kids do chores. However, this is something that I’ve always believed in. While kids don’t need to be little workhorses, they should be expected to pitch in around the house.
You don’t have to wait until your kids are older to get them involved, either. In fact, the younger you start your kids off on working on household chores, the more likely they are to be involved and want to keep helping you in the future.
In this article, I’ll tell you why I believe in having my kids do chores – and give you some ideas for how you can get your little ones involved in the home and on the homestead.
Benefits of Having Kids Do Chores
It is so important that we teach our children good work ethics while they are still young. Not so that we can push the household chores off onto them, but so that they are blessed with the joy and satisfaction of accomplishing a goal.
Children are so eager to please, and love it when they are able to show you a job well done. Use this time in their life to teach them the importance of doing a job thoroughly, with a good attitude, and in a timely manner.
We should remember not to expect perfection. These are children we are talking about, after all. If something isn’t done properly, praise them for what they did do well, then gently encourage them to do the not-so-great part a little better next time. Follow up with lots of praise.
You don’t ever want to discourage them, but you do need to correct them sometimes. If your child is under three, however, I would suggest that whatever they do to help you at this point is good enough; no correcting at this age is necessary. They will have time to improve their skills as they get a little older.
Reward their hard work with lots of admiration and praise! Then step back and enjoy the pride on their faces, and be ready to give them another “job” when they ask you for more!!
Some parents choose to use a more tangible rewards system, like offering an allowance for chores that are completed. That’s up to you but it’s one more way to get your kids on the bandwagon!
Having your kids do chores helps to build their character and teaches them that the world is not focused solely on them. It also helps create habits that will stick with your kids for life.
Here are a few suggestions on ways that your children can “help” you around the house:
There are several laundry tasks that you can get your kids involved in. I usually turn to laundry as one of the first chores since it’s low risk – there aren’t dishes they can break or animals they can injure! Here are some tasks you might try:
- Teach your children to put their dirty clothes in a clothes basket/hamper.
- Little ones love throwing laundry into the washer and dryer.
- Let them push the buttons to start the washer and dryer.
- Allow them to help you pull the dry clothes out of the dryer and into a basket.
- Folding towels and washcloths is easy for little ones. Older kids can put hangers in the shirts for you, and match socks.
- Show them how to put the clean clothes away.
- Teach them how to hang up clothes on the line (start by having them hand you clothespins).
Kids age 2 and up can help you dust. Give them a microfiber cloth to dust table tops and furniture with. Don’t ever give them chemical cleaners to use. I’ve also seen the idea to put an old sock (or sock puppet) on their hand to wipe with.
Kids love to sweep. Mine especially love using a Swiffer with dry clothes on our wood floors. I give each of the kids their own sweeper, and make a game of it. Whoever catches the most “dust bunnies” wins! Of course, I don’t ever declare a winner- they both do a great job! They have fun, and my floors get much cleaner!
4. Cleaning Windows
Arm your child (ages 3 and up) with a spray bottle of homemade window cleaner and a wad of newspaper and set them to work on the windows in your home. My little one always begs for more to do!
Small bathroom trash cans are the perfect size for kids. Easy to empty, and easy to put a new bag into (if you use bags). If they have a small can in their bedroom they can empty that one too.
Even the youngest kids can carry their dirty dishes from the table to the sink. Older kids can help load and unload the dishwasher. Older kids can help wash dishes by hand.
Children enjoy helping to set the table as well.
7. Picking Up After Themselves
If your kids are big enough to pull the toys out, they are big enough to put them back. That’s my general rule.
Make cleanup easier for younger kids by giving them one big box to throw everything into. Older kids can sort toys into separate bins for better organization.
8. Cleaning Bedrooms and Bathrooms
Encourage your children to keep their rooms picked up, or to have them picked up by bedtime.
Once my kids are old enough, I set a timer. If their room is not cleaned up in so many minutes (time depending on the mess), then whatever is left out after the timer goes off I put into a trash bag and it is taken away for 2 weeks.
Teach your children the importance of making their bed. I don’t do this every single day, but on Saturdays (cleaning day), or when company is coming over, I have them practice making their beds. When they are a little older I will expect their beds to be made every morning.
Now, you can also teach your child to clean his own bathroom (or the main bathroom, if you just have the one). However, if you use chemicals to clean the room, I recommend waiting until your child is older to start this.
You don’t want to risk him accidentally ingesting a chemical or getting it in his eyes. If you’re using natural cleaners, like vinegar, you can start this chore much earlier – like preschool age.
9. Gathering Eggs
Young children – as young as toddlers or preschool age – can easily be taught to gather eggs and in many cases, to clean and store them. This is an easy chore to teach and get your kids to do – they’ll love going to hang out with the chickens!
As your kids get older, you can even teach them how to open the coop door in the morning and make sure all the animals are tucked in at night.
If you incubate your own chicks, your children can, of course, be involved in caring for the chicks. They can also be taught how to run the incubator and candle eggs as they get older.
10. Feeding Animals
This is something that even young toddlers can do (with some assistance, of course).
Get your little ones to help you feed the animals or even consider making your older child “in charge” of feeding one kind of animal on your farm (like the chickens). They can help fill up feeders and waterers and carry out small amounts of hay or other bedding.
11. Harvesting and Planting the Garden
This is a fun task that you can get your kids to do with you – and as they get older, they can even do some of these things on their own!
Kids as young as just a year or two old can be taught to pick up rocks and sticks out of the garden, and to pull up certain types of plants.
12. Cooking, Baking, and Making Bread
I believe strongly in getting kids in the kitchen at as early of an age as possible. Enlist the help of your toddler in cooking, baking, and even making bread, and you’ll be providing him with a skill that he uses regularly in years to come.
No age limit on this one – but make sure he’s always supervised, and don’t entrust him to dangerous or sharp equipment.
13. Raking Leaves
This is one of my favorite tasks to give to little hands. There’s not a whole lot at stake here – so what if a leaf ends up in the wrong pile? Raking leaves is a good way to get your child outside and to breathe in some fresh air – plus, it’s a chore that’s easy to do.
14. Weeding and Watering the Garden
You may want to supervise this chore if you’re giving it to a young child (younger than eight or nine) to make sure your child is watering and weeding appropriately. After all, you don’t want them pulling broccoli “weeds” out of your garden instead of the dandelions, nor do you want them dousing a plant with seven gallons of water at once!
However, you can get kids as young as two or three years old involved in these chores. They might not always be helpful, but you’ll be starting to instill some great habits.
15. Milking and Moving Animals
You can start teaching your child how to milk animals when they are as young as nine or ten years old, and by the time they’re into their early teenage years, this should be something you feel confident letting them do themselves.
They can also move animals to new pastures or move chicken tractors, if your tractors are small enough for them to handle.
16. Veterinary Care for Animals
This kind of chore, like milking, is probably best left to older kids. I would personally wait until my child is at least 10 or 11 to have them do any kind of medical care for the animals. When I say that, I mean things like administering medication, bathing, brushing animals, or trimming hooves.
Once your kids start to get into their teenage years, you may even have them assist with the births of animals on the farm!
As your kids get older, they can even be taught how to bottle feed animals, like lambs.
17. Take Care of the Compost
Here’s an easy task for a little one – have them dump the food scraps into the compost bin! As your child gets older, you can even teach him how to turn, water, and harvest finished compost, too.
You can start your kids on vacuuming (and sweeping the floors, too!) when they’re as young as two or three years old.
Sure, they might not be that helpful – but you can easily make it into a fun game so they at least get in the habit of completing this chore.
19. Preserving Food
You probably don’t want your kids running the pressure canner when they’re only nine or ten years old! I get that! However, why not get them involved while you get to work? It’s a great way to teach them about where food comes from and will instill in them skills that are sure to last a lifetime.
20. Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping and meal planning may not be tasks that you entrust to your child all on her own, but you should definitely invite her to do these tasks with you.
Not only will it help develop her understanding of nutrition and organization, but it can also help when it comes to teaching her financial independence and budgeting.
21. Cleaning Barns, Coops, and Hutches
Have your little one start cleaning out barns, hutches, and coops with you when they’re small – this will desensitize them to the smell! Just kidding – but only kind of.
This task is a great one to have kids help you with, since it often takes multiple hands to rake out bedding, cart it away, and toss new stuff in.
22. Shoveling Snow and Mowing the Lawn
Shoveling snow is something that can be done by even the youngest kid – although they might not be super helpful at first!
Mowing the lawn is another chore that you can teach, starting at around ten or eleven years old (or whenever your child is physically strong enough and developmentally ready).
23. Stack Firewood
You probably don’t want your five-year-old splitting firewood just yet, but you can get him involved in stacking it when he’s as young as four or five years old. This is an easy one to make into a game – after all, stacking firewood is a lot like a puzzle!
24. Help with Repairs and Maintenance
Your child may not be a lot of help with repairs, maintenance, and other construction-related tasks when he’s young, but as he gets older, watch out!
Teach your child basic tasks around the homestead, like how to repair a fence or do an oil change on the farm truck. With time, he’ll gain the skills and independence she needs to do these on his own, and you’ll be able to take so much off your plate.
Get Your Kids Involved in All the Household Chores
When you’re trying to get your kids involved in doing chores in the house and on the farm, start as young as possible. Even if that just means toting along your little one in a baby carrier (babywearing) as you go about your daily chores, it’s so important to teach them the value of hard work young.
Once your kids are old enough, you can start giving them their own chores to do. The key here is in putting your kids in tasks that are developmentally- and age-appropriate.
Giving your child a chore that they can’t handle physically or cognitively will not only set you all up for failure and frustration, but it can be potentially dangerous, too. Some of the ages I listed above are just recommendations. You know your child best so think carefully about what tasks you decide to give them.
So, there are lots of things your little one can already be doing to help around the home! I’d encourage you to allow your child to help alongside you as you go about your daily chores.
Do you have any different chores that your children help you with around the home? I’d love to hear what you do!
last updated: 01/27/2021 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.