A Guest Post
Chores are one of the perks of being a parent we feel guilty talking about – mostly because of how much we remember chores being unwarranted cruelty bestowed by our own parents when we were young. But once we’ve grown up and had children of our own, we realize how useful they are in helping with the upkeep of a home, the cluttering of which they contributed to in the first place. In a few weeks, we’ll be having painting contractors over and are tasked with tidying up the play room among other spaces. It’ll be the perfect opportunity to introduce a day’s work to our boy and girl. I can’t wait.
But thinking about it had me thinking about chores in general for those two. Which are appropriate for their ages and which are too mature or dangerous of tasks to assign? While I consider myself a good judge of these sorts of things, it was important to know for sure, so Google was consulted.
In addition to stating that most experts cite chores as a critical part of a child’s character development and feeling of self-worth, WebMD provides a list of age-appropriate chores for children. In summary, toddlers ages 2-3 should stick to putting toys away, wiping, and dusting. Children ages 4-5 can be promoted to such tasks as light gardening, emptying small waste receptacles, and making beds. Kids between the ages of 6-7 can sort laundry and pack their own lunches, while those ages 8-9 ought to be able to help make dinner and take dogs for walks. Those ten and older can do just about anything an adult can do, aside from tasks that clearly require adult strength and/or skills to perform safely.
When it comes to clearing the way for painters in a week or so, the battle plan is pretty straightforward. My two should have no problem clearing their play room of toys, dusting, emptying trash, and putting items away, while I shan’t worry that I’ve overburdened them with responsibilities.
But at the same time, it’s important not to let general online guidelines get in the way of what could otherwise be early albeit healthy childhood development via chores and other household responsibilities. For instance, my son has already sorted laundry several times – for fun no less – something WebMD recommends shouldn’t be undertaken by a child until the age of six. What the concern is for a child younger than six to be sorting laundry is hard to guess. In my opinion, it’s helped my son improve his organization skills, as well as increase his awareness of color differences.
Ultimately, the assignment of chores to children is up to parents, but do take the advice of sources such as WebMD into consideration, as such guidelines do help prevent dangerous scenarios you may not foresee. The bottom line is that knowing your small child’s qualities is unlikely to lead you astray in the safe assignment of chores. You may never shake off some of the guilt that goes along with putting free labor to good use around the house, but don’t worry about your child’s ability to get the job done. They’re usually smarter than you think.