Don’t have enough time to do all the housework when you’re busy with the kids? Put them to work! If you start your kids early with helping around the house, you’ll create great habits that will last a lifetime and have helpers until they leave the nest – plus you just may be able to cut your own chore time down and steal a few minutes back for yourself.
Start a chore board in a space everyone will see, like the kitchen or mud room. Color code chores so everyone can keep track of their must-dos, and update the list weekly. Try to rotate the chores in an age-appropriate way to avoid boredom – and so no one gets stuck cleaning the bathroom week after week.
New rule: Everyone cleans his own room. For little kids, this may mean just picking up their own toys and putting them away (label storage boxes with pictures of each item to make this easier). When they’re a little older, they can start making the bed in the morning and putting away their clothes. Tweens and teens should be responsible for dusting, vacuuming and keeping their clothes tidy and put away.
At mealtime, young children can help with setting the table and bringing ingredients into the kitchen. Older kids can start packing their own lunches and help with weekly meal planning. If you are lucky enough to have teens or tweens interested in cooking, let them start planning and cooking a meal once a week. If you’re not, get them in the kitchen with you anyway to teach them some essential cooking basics – they’ll thank you once they get their own apartments.
This is a great opportunity to teach your teens skills they’ll need when they leave home. Walk them through the laundry basics, and then assign them a regular laundry shift that includes clothes for the whole family. Little kids can bring their clothes to the laundry room and help sort by color, and can also help with pairing socks and putting their own clothes away after they’re clean.