Ask the Readers: Do Your Kids Have Chores?

By Ashley Jacobs on 4 December 2012 39 comments
Photo: Roy Luck

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It's safe to say most of us had to do our fair share of chores growing up. Whether it was taking out the trash, cleaning our rooms, or taking the dog for a walk, we had our responsibilities around the house. Most of us probably have (or plan to have) our kids do chores either to pull their weight at home or to earn an allowance. However, some parents may not plan to have their kids do chores due to the increasingly heavy school and recreational loads kids have these days.

Do your kids have chores? What chores do they have? Do you give them an allowance for completing chores? Why or why not? If you don't have kids, do you plan on having your kids do chores? Will you give them an allowance or not?

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39 discussions

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Guest's picture

Our 3.5 year old has one chore, to feed the cats. We do this because the cats don't like him much but maybe if they see he feeds them they will come around. We told him when he turns 4 he is going to start "working". Right now we show him how to do things; put away silverware, set the table, put his clothes and dishes away. But we aren't requiring him to do them yet. He loves to help me clean, especially dusting and washing windows.

Guest's picture

I'm so excited to be a winner! Thank you!

Guest's picture

My 6 year old must set the silverware, put the silverware away out of the dishwasher, clean up her own toys, hang up her own clothes and folds wash cloths. Those are her regular chores. This will increase after our baby is born in a few weeks!

My 2 year old needs to clean up his own toys and put his books back on his shelf before getting out a new toy or a new book. And for some reason, he asks to rake leaves every day!

Guest's picture

Absolutely, the kids all have age appropriate chores! In this house, even the dog has chores: pre-rinse and vacuum. Cats, however, are exempt as well as anyone having a birthday.

Guest's picture

Yep, they do. Some chores are paid (bathrooms, some yardwork). But washing dishes/wiping surfaces and sweeping/mopping the kitchen floor rotates daily among all family members. They also do their own laundry and pack their own lunches. When they leave home they should be able to manage most household tasks.

Guest's picture
Rachael Woodstuff

My four-year-old has both chores that she has to do and that she can choose to do. The chores she has to do are not paid and are directly related to her (i.e. cleaning up behind herself, her laundry, etc). The chores she can choose to do and earn money for are helpful to our family, but not necessarily her responsibility (i.e. feeding the dog, dusting, etc). I believe that it is never too early for a child to understand that his messes don't magically disappear, he must clean them. I also believe that having the control to earn money in order to buy something or give it to someone is powerful at a young age. My daughter still doesn't quite understand money, but she does like getting something for her work.

Guest's picture

My kids have to do chores to get an allowance -- take out the garbage, walk the dog, feed the dog and cats, clean their room.

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Brenda Faulkner

Yes, my little girl unloads the dishwasher and my little boy takes out the trash.

Guest's picture

My son (5yo) is expected to clear his plate from the table to the kitchen counter and clean up any toys he's played with. His reward for cleaning up at the end of the day is 30 min of TV. I don't consider these chores per se, just teaching him personal responsibility and he's basically been doing this since he was an infant/toddler (where I obviously did most of the toy pickup and he helped - now that's reversed). However, when he turned 5 we gave him a chore and an allowance: once a week he collects the trash from the small cans in the bedrooms/bathrooms. There are 6 total and he gets a quarter for emptying each one, so $1.50/week. He has a bank with 3 sections - spend, save, share - and he divvies up his quarters into each section (3, 2, 1). I'll be taking him to Toys-R-Us to use his "share" $ to get something for Toys for Tots and he's meticulously counting his "spend" $ until he has enough for an Angry Birds game if Santa doesn't bring him one.... His "save" $ is for when he's "older" though we haven't really talked about what that means yet. I started doing chores/allowance with him for a couple reasons. I want my son to be responsible and capable of doing things himself - even if it's just emptying a trash can. The allowance does two things: 1. I get to help him count and learn about $. Since it's his, he's a little more invested in understanding it. (He still thinks it's hysterical that 100 pennies = 1 dollar, so we're not talking any major investing discussions right 2. Mom and Dad can't buy him everything he wants, so if there's some toy he just insist he needs to have, then I tell him it's something he can use his own $ for. And already that makes him stop and think about whether he really wants it. (This is the same strategy my mom used when I was 16 and insisting on the high end $12/bottle shampoo instead of the $2/bottle discount brand. If I really wanted it, I had to make up the price difference with my own $.)

Guest's picture

My son is a little young for chores (age 1) but he will do them when hes a little bigger. He already knows to put his shoes away!

Guest's picture

Absolutely, Every hand is a helping hand in this house! :)

Guest's picture

I have three kids and they each do an age appropriate chore six days a week. The chore itself usually takes less that 5 minutes and we have decided not to pay for these in the form of allowance. They do these chores simply because being a part of a family means you pitch in on the keeping of the house. Everyone likes a clean space! Once in a great while something will come up that is above and beyond, like maybe raking leaves or washing cars, we will kick down a few bucks for these things. My oldest son is nearly 9 and sometimes he will ask to earn money to save for something, we will try and come up with a project he can do to earn money in that case.

Guest's picture

My kids have chores which include setting/clearing the table after meals, taking out the trash, cleaning their rooms, bathrooms. They don't get paid for chores but do get paid for mowing the lawn. Everyone has responsibilities as part of the family.

Guest's picture

If I ever have kids, I would definitely make them do light chores around the house and give them a small allowance based on their age/grades/behavior. However, I would give them an extra allowance for voluntarily doing the more time consuming chores.

Guest's picture

No kids here yet, but I'd def give them chores to learn all about responsibility early on!

Guest's picture

yes, wash the dishes.

Guest's picture

My little one is not quite 2, so no chores assigned yet.

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Happy Love

We have one on the way, and we do plan to give him age-appropriate chores, probably starting around 4-5 (other than just picking up his toys).

Guest's picture

My daughter doesn't really have assigned chores. I have to hound her to pick up her room. Big mistake on my part. I should have started her sooner.

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Lori P

When our daughter was younger she helped with household chores. She dumped the little garbage cans, fed the dogs, helped dust and general picking up around the home. We gave her spending money, but it wasn't because of the chores she did. As she got older chores changed and so did the amount of spending money. We feel that everyone in the family should help out around the home whether you are given an allowance or not.

Guest's picture

You bet! My kids are 15 and 17 and are required to put away the dish rack and dishwasher (sometimes goes undone and left for mom):( , clean their rooms, walk the dog, clean their bathrooms (privileged enough having their own!), and take out the garbage. Then they do one more chore on the weekend that contributes to the whole family ie dust, vacuum, sweep the floor, put up Xmas lights (tis the season, and although they may say bah humbug to the work, they love them!), and finally set & clear the table on Sundays . . . phew, that's a fairly substantial list when you think about it. (I guess I should stop nagging so much!). We don't pay them because we pay for their cell phone bills every month, which is more than adequate pay given their texting habits!

Guest's picture

My sons had various chores at different ages, including unloading silverware from the dishwasher when they were young, and emptying trash cans from various rooms. As they got older it progressed to setting & clearing the table, vacuuming the house, putting away laundry, washing dishes, etc. Starting about age 12 they were responsible for mowing the lawn & eventually edging. Some chores were general responsibilities, others were paid at times, for extra work.

Guest's picture

I teach kindergarten but don't have kids of my own. As a teacher, I would really recommend having kids do chores. Keep it simple and something they can do independently after you've showed them a few times. That's what we do in our classroom!

Guest's picture

Yes, my four children both have had and continue to be required to contribute to the household. They also receive an allowance. It's good practice for adulthood.

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Melissa Gardner

My daughter is 15 yrs old and she has had chores for years. Of course, she has homework and basketball practice, but she has to keep her room clean, wash her own clothes and put them away. She is also tasked with doing dishes and putting away food (dinner on weekdays and breakfast and dinner on the weekends).

She's such a good kid that she helps out whenever she can in other ways, too. I have had an allowance amount transferred from my credit union account to her account and she has an ATM (soon to be a debit card) to withdraw funds for her own expenditures. I've also taught her about the necessity of saving and making wise spending choices. She's learning the lessons well!

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Thrifty Mom In Boise

My kids get started with chores by helping fold wash cloths and empty trash at age two. Now that they are older they have more responsibility and help take care of our animals. Most of the time we do our chores as a family. Teamwork! Everybody pitches in.

Guest's picture

I don't have children but, if I did, I would expect them to do a few small things around the house. I'm not sure if I would give them allowance for it since some financial experts say you shouldn't, but I think learning that work = pay would probably be a good lesson.

Guest's picture
Debra K

My daughter isn't quite 2 yet, so she doesn't have any real chores at this time, but she will have chores. Right now, she has a small broom and dustpan that she likes to "sweep" things up with (I'm still trying to teach her how they work), and she helps put her toys away. Sometimes she "helps" me with cooking or baking, but that doesn't happen too much.

Guest's picture
Rebecca B. A. R.

Unfortunately, I probably won't have kids, but if I did they would definitely have age appropriate chores, that would just be a part of their everyday life. For example, making their beds every morning, straightening up their rooms, picking up after themselves with their dirty clothes or dishes, etc.

Guest's picture

Our kids have always cleaned their own rooms, washed their own clothes, and helped with a variety of other household chores, such as taking out the trash. We even spent time teaching our sons how to do some basic cooking. It has turned out to be a good thing because now they can share these duties with wives and girlfriends. We always thought it was a good idea to give kids some responsibilities.

Guest's picture

My 5 year old has chores including making her bed and keeping her room clean. She is also a great helper at dinner time, setting the table and turning off the TV. For all of this, we pay her a small allowance, which she really seems to appreciate.

Guest's picture

My kids are grown now, ages 25 and almost 27. They never had chores, but I did tell them school work was their chore to complete and I expected it to be done.

Guest's picture

YES!! We even watch a little girl who is 15 months old and she has a chore. (which she loves to do btw, the recycling gets done, though not quickly. :) Both of our children have chores that they must do before playtime; if they do them well, it takes about 5 minutes a day. Not much, but they are contributing to the family positively and it makes a huge difference for them to be plugged in to making the family and home run smoothly. It is something they NEED, a responsibility that helps not just themselves.

Guest's picture

Mine have chores that they have to do and do not get paid for., but if they do something extra, I pay them for it .

Guest's picture

I have a 14-year-old step-son who has lived with us for the past two years. It's been a struggle to get him to clean up after himself, but sometimes he'll surprised me by doing the dishes on his own. He knows we would be happy to give him allowance money if he helps around the house, but it doesn't help, yet.
I also have a 1 year old. He's already mimicking me by handing me things to pick up. I'll start him early! :)

Guest's picture

We've just started with chores for our DS9 a few weeks ago - just basics like clean room, care for pets, once a week vacuum house and wipe down bathroom. The Doneski app on my iphone makes it easier for me to keep on top of what he's done and what is still to do (and let's be honest, he's a tech kid and the app makes doing his chores more appealing). I think it's important for him to contribute to our family, even at this young age.

Guest's picture

When my son was growing up, he always had chores...based on his age and abilities. Money was earned instead of just given. To this day, he's very fiscally responsible.

Guest's picture

I don't have kids, but I plan on assigning them chores. I'm looking forward to having someone else cut the lawn!

Guest's picture

My daughter is too young for chores.