Start ’em young!An article I read on Babycenter.com recently called Are kids doing chores anymore? got me thinking. How young is too young for chores? I guess my answer depends on how you define “chores”. If you mean assigned responsibilities that the child must complete each day or each week, then I think age 5 or 6 is probably a good time to start. But if you mean helping you with whatever daily chores you are doing (rather than having sole responsibility for getting a job done), then I think Little Man’s current age – 20 months – is a great age to start as you mean to go on.
He just loves to help. And he hates to be ignored while Charlie or I are busy doing housework, so the best way to keep everyone happy is to involve him, even if it means that simple chores take twice as long as they normally would!
So what can Little Man help with around the house? Well obvious things, like putting away one toy before taking out another to play with. Or fun things like the washing up – well it’s fun for him anyway! He stands in front of me on a stool and splashes the water with the brush, while I wash the dishes.
He’s great at helping to load the clothes into the washing machine. Sweeping the floor is another favourite of his – he seems to have a natural talent for sweeping right around the dirt.
And although anything Little Man does, such as sweeping the floor, obviously has to be supervised, and then completely re-done once he’s finished, I think these are habits that are important to develop at this stage. Reading this article, Talking Trash or Taking it Out has certainly reinforced my opinion on that. The article explores differing attitudes to chores around the world. In much of the world, from the time a child can walk, fetch, and carry, they are expected to do so. It explains that involving children in this way from an early age takes advantage of their natural desire to get involved with the household. But in much of modern Western society, we don’t give such young children any chores to do because it’s time consuming or we worry that they will get hurt…And after a while the children stop asking to help.
Years pass, and finally when the child turns 7 or 8, parents start assigning chores to them and are met with huge resistance because the child has grown used to having everything done for them.
No doubt we’ll still have plenty of those arguments with Little Man in years to come, but hopefully by involving him in the day-to-day chores from this early age, we’ll minimise some of them! I’ll report back in 2016 and let you know!