Age Appropriate Chores

Okay, moms of young children, think about the past week.  What chores have your preschoolers done?  As moms, our main duty toward our children is to teach them how to be responsible, God-loving (and fearing) adults who have the tools they need to be successful in their lives--whatever that success may look like. One of those tools is the ability to, desire to and knowledge of how to take care of their possessions, and of course to keep house.  If you are doing all of the daily chores around your house by your lonesome, not only are you creating more work for yourself, but you are hurting-yes, I said hurting--your children! 

I start giving my children cleaning activities at around two years old.   Now, before you call CPS on me for violating child labor laws, hear me out. :-)  At two and three, children love to help mommy, and although mommy can do whatever it is much faster without said toddler help, that little bit of extra time is completely worth it. 

First, you are instilling great habits in your child, such as order and cleanliness.  Second, you are teaching him that he is important to the well-being of your home and as a member of a family has certain responsibilities that he has a duty to fulfill.  Finally, your are training him to grow into a man who is helpful and considerate, a man who doesn't just assume that mommy/ his wife-y will take care of those dishes, but jumps into to help.  Please ignore the male pronouns; I had to pick one...) 

Allow me to illustrate my point.  The rule at my house is that all children 2 and above help to clean the kitchen.  For my 2 year old, that may mean that she "dries" off the chairs after an older child wipes them down.  I may hand her her own bowl to bring to me by the sink, but I digress.  Anyway, my 5-year old nephew was over and I started giving him and my almost 4-year old jobs to do like clearing and wiping down the table and pushing in their chairs .  My daughter complied without complaint; this has become habit for her, after all.  My nephew, however, complained, "Why do we always have to clean up after we eat every time?"

"Because if we left everything in the sink and on the table it would smell and could make us sick.  We have a nice home to live in and good food to eat.  God expects us to take care of what he has given us," I replied.

He retorted, "NO, I know WHY it needs done, but why do WE, (Kelly and I) have to do it?  Why can't you just do it by yourself?"

Oh, sweet child.....

Okay, so assuming you agree with me that our children need housekeeping jobs to do, and I know you do, cause you are great moms, I am sure, you may wonder, what in the world can my 2-year old do?   Below is a list of age-appropriate chores.
  Use this a guideline!  Every child is different, and will be ready to complete these chores independently at different times.  Of course, always supervise your child and be ready to help them be successful at completely a task until you are sure they can do it by themselves. 

2-3 Year Olds  (They of course will needs a lot of help at first and will gradually learn to complete these tasks by themselves, under your supervision, of course.)
  •  Help to make bed-at first, this may mean simply placing her pillow on her bed after you have made it.
  • Pick up toys and play things
  • Take laundry to laundry room or put in hamper in her room
  • Feed pets
  • Throw away trash, take recyclables to indoor/garage container
  • Help wipe up messes--at first you might have them dry the area after you or an older child.
  • Take own dishes to the sink--or to mommy who is standing by the sink
  • Hand silverware to mommy or older child to put away
4-5 Year Olds (A great age for chore charts!  Once they have mastered the task, they can do many without supervision. HURRAY!!)
  • All chores listed above
  • Help with grocery shopping, carrying groceries (nothing breakable, for your sanity), put away groceries 
  • Set/Clear table, put food away, etc
  • Help put dishes in dishwasher, dry dishes (non-breakable), Put silverware away
  • Help make food (always supervise and NO KNIVES)
  • Put away own laundry--children this age may also want to help fold laundry.  Start teaching them how to fold towels, socks, undies, etc.
6-8 Year Olds (Now is when all your hard work and extra time teaching pays off as your children become independent of your supervision and are able to do many jobs around the house.)
  • All previously mentioned chores
  • Dish duty and put dishes away
  • Take out trash and replace bag
  • Take care of pets
  • Vacuum/sweep/mop
  • Most other household chores as you deem appropriate.
A few notes of caution:

In the younger years, it is more important that your children learn to do each chore correctly than for them to be able to do them independently.  Try to ensure they will feel successful and not overwhelmed by the task at hand by helping them with their chores as much as they need.  At first you will be doing most of the work, but gradually expect them do more until they are doing the task by themselves.  Praise often, and loudly!

Work beside your children as much as possible even as they get older.  Modeling how to organize/clean your home environment is just as important if not more important than your verbal instructions.  I think parents often do this with younger children, but expect that older children and teens do the work in place of  themselves.  While your older children and teens should complete their chores independently from you, this does not give you a free pass to pass off most of the cleaning responsibilities to your children.  Instead, work with your children.  Clean your room while they do theirs, work with them to clean up the kitchen.  Dust while they sweep, etc.

 If your children feel like, "your servant," they will come to resent, rather than embrace your cleaning philosophy.  They may avoid/ or skimp on the chore to just get it done.  Remember, the goal is NOT primarily to have a clean house now.  The goal is to raise adults who take pride in their surroundings, know how to and have the desire to keep their space clean and orderly, (I am not saying perfect and spotless) and who believe they have a duty to help keep it that way.

Okay, I am off my soap box now. :-)

Anyway, I hope you find this age-appropriate chore list helpful. It is adapted from a list I found 

Dishes Not Getting Cleaned? Clean Your Dishwasher!

Did you know that older dishwashers need to be disassembled and cleaned biannually? Now, I don't know about newer models-I don't have one-but if you have never cleaned your dishwasher, it may be time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Over the last several weeks I started noticing that my dishes were not getting clean in my dishwasher. Even pre-rinsed glasses sand bowls were coming out with a sandy grit plastered to the inside.

As much as I have been pining for a new dishwasher (I have a beautiful, energy efficient black model in mind), we simply cannot afford to buy a new appliance right now if we don't absolutely need it. So, I got to work.  I disassembled the sprayer parts and soaked them in a sink half-full of water and vinegar.  After scrubbing the parts and dishwasher bottom with steel wool and an old toothbrush, I put everything back together and ran a cleaning cycle using the hottest water I could and 2 cups of vinegar.  Once the cycle was about half-way through, stopped the cycle and wiped out the bottom with a clean rag.  My dishwasher went from this:

to this:
If you haven't guessed, your homemaking challenge is to clean that dishwasher, and while you have your vinegar out, soak and scrub your glasses and silverware as well.     
The glass on the left is cloudy and full of water spots.  The glass on the right has been soak in vinegar and water and lightly scrubbed with steel wool. It looks just like new!  

My silverware was dull and dingy looking.  I soaked them in vinegar-water, lightly scrubbed them with steel wool and now...

They are shiny and bright.  Beautiful!
Going forward, add cleaning your silverware, glasses and yes. your dishwasher to your fall and spring cleaning lists.  I have written a detailed guide with lots of pictures about cleaning your dishwasher at
Happy Homemaking!

Homemaking Challenge: Start a Garden

Spring is here and the florwers in Indiana are in full bloom.  Unfortunately, Indiana weather has us covering up the tender annuals every other night in anticipation of frost. The Garden beds are tilled and most of my veggies that I started indoors are growing nicely.   Finally. 

It took me three years of trying to start seeds indoors before I finally got a tray full of vegetables growing nicely.  The first few years I ended up trashing most of the pots and buying plants from the store.  Even then, my plants haven't been the best producers, but every year my gardens get more beautiful, more productive, more rewarding.  

Over the past few years I have learned that gardening isn't as simple as plant a seed and watch it grow.  It takes time to become a "gardener," time to learn proper plant placement, pruning techniques, propagation techniques.  It takes a litte dedication to keep those little plants well-watered, well-picked, and well-weeded.   These skill do not grow over night, and often, it can take several growing seasons before we really become successful gardeners. 

Maybe you have always wanted to start a small vegetable garden, but have no clue where to begin.  I want to encourage you to just give it a shot this year.  Learn as you go, and start small so you do not overwhelm yourself.  Your garden may be super successful, or a complete flop.  Either way, the lessons you will learn along the way are what is important. 

Maybe you are an inexperienced gardener and, like me, you have already experienced a few flops.  Don't give up!  The little failures you saw last year have taught you important lessons that will make this year's garden more successful.

 You see, these first few years of gardening are not really about replacing our store bought produce with home-grown, (although that is what we are secretely hoping for, right?).  It's all about the process.  Learning about the plants you want to grow, learning about yourself, learning about nature, it takes time. 

In our society, we have become so far removed from art of growing our ow food, that we really take our food for granted, but there is something so magical about planting a seed in the ground, and watching it grow from a tiny seedling to a giant plant. Picking the vegetables off it's stems and putting them on your family table.  That connection to our food, connection to nature, to God, we are missing that in so much of America.

My homemaking challenge to you this month, is to take your gardening to the next level.  Grow something new this year, add mroe gardening space. Start your first small garden.  Live in an apartment? Start a container garden, grow one plant in one container, whatever. Just start somewhere, as always, share your experiences with us in the comment section below.
All New Square Foot Gardening
Happy Homemaking and God Bless!