I am continually asked what “chores” or responsibilities our kids have, and/or if we recommend any specific simple daily tasks for children at various age levels.
I’ll be honest, Dave and I surprisingly don’t have any type of system or “rule of thumb” for what tasks our kids should do at specific ages (you can find hundreds of these types of charts and posts on Pinterest though!)
And even though our family is very routine-oriented and scheduled, we haven’t found a chore chart or reward system that works well for us. Maybe we haven’t looked hard enough, maybe it’s just that Dave and I never remember to actually keep up with the charts, or maybe it’s because the majority of the people in our house can’t read a chart anyway!
Whatever the case, our family seems to function best with a handful of basic expectations that, although unwritten, are known and (usually) followed by all.
If you haven’t been able to make a “chore chart” work for your family, you might instead consider determining a set of simple daily tasks for your children (and everyone in your home).
The 60+ simple tasks we expect our children to do pretty much all the time, without 500 reminders.
NOTE: our children are currently 7, 5, 4, and 2 — the 2-year-old needs help with most of these tasks.
- bring anything inside they brought outside and leave it in the mudroom (in case it’s dirty and needs to be cleaned)
- pick up the inside of the van (trash, coloring things, books, snacks, etc.)
- bring water bottles and anything they brought into the van back into the house
- take off shoes, coats, etc. and put them away in the mudroom
- hang wet swimsuits and towels over railings outside the mudroom
- dump wet snow clothes in a pile on the rug and tell me so I remember to put them in the dryer
- empty contents of their backpacks and hang backpacks up on hooks in the mudroom
- bring lunch bags, water bottles, and school folders to the kitchen island
- give me a hug 🙂
- empty school papers into the designated bin in our kitchen and put folders back in their backpacks
- go to the bathroom (if necessary) and WASH HANDS WELL!
- make sure all lights, fans, noisemakers, music, etc. is turned off
- go to the bathroom and/or brush teeth if necessary
- grab water bottle and lunch or snack (depending on the day and where we’re going)
- put on shoes, coat, and any extra outdoor gear that’s needed
- grab backpacks and head out to the bus stop (school mornings) or get into the van
- make sure the back door is closed ALL THE WAY!
- make beds
- go to the bathroom
- get dressed & put PJ’s away
- do hair (or ask me to do it for them)
- come downstairs for breakfast
- eat breakfast without tons of extra noise (my request!)
- brush teeth
- look over any “school stuff” like Bible memory, spelling tests, math quiz, etc. or play upstairs
- go to the bathroom and wash hands BEFORE we sit down
- help set the table (if I haven’t done it already)
- stay seated while eating
- use silverware (not fingers) while eating
- try at least 2 bites of everything
- listen quietly while we read after the meal
- bring plate, silverware, and cup to the counter after the meal
- put cloth napkin on their chair and push their chair up to the table
- brush teeth (mainly just after breakfast)
- play together upstairs or outside until the kitchen is cleaned up and all food is put away (or get ready to leave for the bus)
- pick up everything (we help with this process and truly do pick up the entire house inside and outside)
- choose clothes for the next day and set it out in the bathroom or in their bedroom
- make sure everything they need for the next morning is ready to go in the mudroom (I help with this)
- take showers (older 2) or baths (Dave gives the younger 2 their bath)
- put dirty clothes in the hamper — we’re working on making sure their dirty clothes aren’t a massive tangled ball!
- pick out 2 books to read
- eat vitamins and grab their snack from the counter (usually grapes and cheese, per their request)
- read by themselves (Nora) or with Dave or me while eating their snack
- brush teeth
- go to the bathroom
- participate in singing songs and prayer request before turning out the lights
- get into bed (younger 3 — Nora stays up to read for about 45 more minutes)
- stay in their own beds all night long
- be helpful when asked or needed
- play together with siblings, neighbors, friends, etc. and don’t exclude others
- watch and help Clara when playing away from mom and dad’s line of sight
- help pick up whenever we move onto another activity
- don’t take something from someone else without asking
- don’t interrupt when others are talking (we’ve been working on this one for a LONG time)
- wash hands whenever they come inside, whenever they go to the bathroom, before eating, or after touching something germy (they are REALLY good about washing hands)
- ask before getting anything to eat
- put water bottles on the designated counter in the kitchen when not in use
- ask before leaving the house for any reason
- put seatbelts on immediately after getting into the van
- always stay seated and buckled while in the van
- stay by me, and watch younger siblings, when out and about, running errands, etc.
- speak clearly and make eye contact when talking to others
I’m sure there are things I’m forgetting… or maybe just not explaining well enough, but that’s our list!
Most of these things are fairly “unspoken” around our house — a few are still a work-in-progress, but we’re getting there!
Our list of expectations might seem way over-the-top for some families, while others will wonder why we don’t require more from our children.
I don’t have a good answer for either side!
This is just what works for OUR FAMILY right now!
It is not necessarily the only way, the right way, or the best way… it’s just the Dekker way for October of 2019… and believe me, you don’t all want to be like the crazy Dekkers! 🙂
So far, this system is working well for us (and it’s easy enough to stick with!)
One thing I know for sure is that everything I just shared above WILL continually change over the next 10-15 years!
We will most definitely expect our children to help out more around the house and yard as they get older and more capable… and we very well might offer to pay them for helping more. Or we might not, and simply explain to them that they are part of our family and families help out when they can.
This is what works for now… I’m more than open to change in the future, but until this stops working for our family, this is what we’ll keep doing. How’s that for a vague answer! 🙂
I’d love to know how YOU handle responsibilities with your kids.
NOTE: I’ll be sharing more about allowances and money management for our children next week!