Little hands can help with big jobs.

Chore List Ideas for Kids

by Kathryn Walsh

Wielding a mop isn't any kid's idea of a dream afternoon. While he might resent being expected to complete certain chores, what your child doesn't realize is that he's learning to contribute and handle responsibility, two lessons he'll need to learn by adulthood. He still won't be thrilled to do chores, but establishing a written chore list naming each kid's tasks means you'll never hear arguing about whose turn it is to dust.

Consider Your Lifestyle

Tailor your list to your family's schedule. If you have little ones or your kids are home on summer vacation, you might opt for a daily chore list, dividing up tasks to be done each day. With older kids whose schedules are packed with extracurriculars, make a weekly list. Other than small daily tasks like doing dishes, let each child know that she has until Sunday evening to finish the jobs on her weekly list. A written list is a must if you expect kids to remember their jobs. For a kid addicted to his phone, send his chores via text, or post a written list on the mirror of a makeup-addicted teen. Use photos representing jobs to create a chore list for a little one; a picture of a made bed will remind her to go straighten out her sheets.

Give Kids Ownership

You can see the dust on the shelves and the lint on the carpet, but your child probably doesn't notice or care. To make her feel invested in completing her tasks, consider giving her some ownership over her jobs. Let her help create a list of jobs that must be done, and accept suggestions when she has them. The dishes have to be washed and the dog fed, but if she wants to keep her room messy, consider letting it happen. Do set some rules; suggests the door to a teen's messy room be kept closed and the room be cleaned once a month. Another option is to assign each child one area that's all hers: one kid might be in charge of the living room while another is responsible for outside jobs. You might also write a list of chores and let kids take turns choosing their own for the week.

Mix It Up

Anything gets boring when done repeatedly. Keep kids from getting complacent by rotating your chore list every so often. Reassign each task every week or month, or rotate the chores themselves. If the windows don't get dirty quickly, make cleaning them a twice-a-month job, alternating every week with another infrequent task like washing the car. When it's time to plant new flowers in the garden, cancel other non-essential chores for the week and enlist your children in planting. You might even plan a family cleaning day once a month or so. Fill baskets with cleaning supplies and move as a group throughout the house. While little ones rub damp cloths along baseboards, older kids can vacuum while you dust the breakables -- all while chatting and catching up.

Make Chores Enjoyable

A kid will learn to dread certain tasks in her own time, but for now, add as much joy as you can to dull jobs. suggests having a weekly progress meeting to talk about how your child is doing with her chores; try making it a weekly ice cream sundae party or hold this check-in over pizza. Turn on dance music on a weekend afternoon and send everyone off to do her tasks with a twist in her step, or offer a small prize, like an extra dollar added to allowance, to the child who finishes her jobs first (and to your satisfaction). For a small child, stickers can be an effective motivator. Hand her the princess or car sticker of her choice after she finishes each job, or let her affix them to a sticker chart.

About the Author

Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

Photo Credits

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