*I've had people ask me what sorts of truly helpful and meaningful jobs little kids can do around the house. Here's a list of what my kids have been able to do at different ages. I'd love your thoughts on other jobs I can add to these lists so I can post them on Power of Moms. I hear there are more comprehensive lists in Marilee Boyack's excellent book, The Parenting Breakthrough - a book on my list to ready when I get a chance!
3-6 year-old jobs (some younger kids can do these, also good for older kids):
- put away clean silverware from dishwasher (younger kids love the sorting)
- put away all the dishes in the dishwasher (younger kids stack up the different things, older kids put them away in higher places - or you can be like my friend and store all your dishes in low places so little kids can do the whole thing)
- wipe down baseboards and ledges on doors with a damp cloth (little kids can get really good at this if you show them how to get the cloth wrapped around their little fingers and get into the corners - it's quite satisfying seeing how much dirt and dust they can extract - they just need help rinsing and out and wringing out the rag every so often)
- load up rinsed dishes into the dishwasher
- bring laundry to laundry room and sort it into dark and light
- be a "human vacuum" and clean up all the little bits on the floor (see who can pick up the most for a contest)
- clean the floor (they love using a damp cloth and a spray bottle with a very safe solution of water with a little vinegar in it - the floor may not get an even cleaning - but it'll get cleaner!)
- sort all the socks
Hint: they always do jobs better and faster when a contest or a timer is involved!
6-10 year-old jobs:
Some of these may seem too hard for this age group but I've found that my kids do a very good job if I show them all the steps involved and do it with them a few times, then always check their work and help with final details once they become quite adept. I got the idea from my sister Shawni to have my kids "certify" in certain jobs - I spend time with them making sure they understand exactly how a job is to be done and point out how wonderful it looks and how great we feel when the job is well done. They they become "certified" in that job and after having done it very well for a while, they get to teach a younger sibling how to do that job so he or she can become "certified" as well. Having a list of the specific steps involved in the jobs below (you could laminate the list and keep it with your cleaning supplies) can help ensure things are done well on an ongoing basis.
- toilet scrubbing
- sink cleaning and faucet polishing
- shower/bathtub scrubbing
- bathroom floor cleaning (nice to break up the bathroom jobs into different chunks so it doesn't feel overwhelming)
- dusting (show them how to move everything off the dusty area, dust the corners, dust the items from the area, then put everything back)
- kitchen sink detailing (once a week)
- kitchen counter detailing (once a week)
- wood polishing (they love spraying the Endust or Pledge or whatever and bringing out the shine)
- laundry folding
- weeding flowerbeds
- gathering all the trash from around the house and getting it out in the big bins for trash day
10-12 year old jobs (all of the above plus these other older-kid things) I don't have any older kids than this so this is as high as I can go right now!
- mowing the lawn
- doing the laundry (younger kids can do this but I prefer the older kids do it to get the settings right and put in the right amount of detergent, etc.)
- detail vacuuming (moving small furniture to get under and behind things on a monthly basis)
- putting out the trash bins for trash day
What am I missing? I'm sure you've got other great stuff I could add to these lists.