Sharing the Load with Kids: A list of chores by age

clothes-line-615962_640Back when we were deciding where to send our boys to pre-school I spent a considerable amount of time researching the several in our area – a stark contrast to how I chose their paediatrician.  I chose the paediatrician based on geographical proximity.  I chose the pre-school based on similar ideology.  The paediatrician and I broke up years ago but I am still going steady with the pre-school.  My youngest is in his final year and I am heartbroken at the thought of moving on for so many reasons but what I am going to miss most is the support they provide the parents.

The school is based in Adlerian psychology and I have raved about here and Nathalie reviewed a book on the subject here.

At the start of the school year they distributed a list of ways that children can participate and contribute to the family and in doing so, they feel Connected, Capable and Confident (pillars of the Adlerian approach).

Moms have a tendency to play the martyr (guilty!) and the busyness of the holidays just adds to already overwhelming to-do lists.  Don’t forget to include the little people of your family!  They can make a meaningful contribution.  “Take time for training” is what the teachers at the school recommend and remember it might not be perfect, but it will be done, leaving you more time to spend together, having fun!

Home Responsibilities for a 2 and 3 year old

1)   Tidy up the toys on the floor and return to the right bins.

2)   Put books/magazines on tables, shelves or racks.

3)   Sweep the floor.

4)   Place napkins, silverware and plates on the table.

5)   Tidy up place setting after eating.  Take dishes to the counter.

6)   Tidy up the floor after eating a meal.

7)   Make a choice between two things for breakfast. (This is empowering and encourages your child to make simple decisions.)

8)   Undress and dress with a little bit of help.

9)   Help to put away groceries (boxed, canned items on lower shelves), put away the grocery bags.

Home Responsibilities for a 4 year old

1)   Set the table.

2)   Put the groceries away.

3)   Help with the grocery shopping and compiling a grocery list.

4)   Follow a schedule for feeding pets.

5)   Help with yard and garden work.

6)   Help make the beds and vacuum.

7)   Help to do the dishes or fill dishwasher.

8)   Spreading butter on toast, making simple sandwiches.

9)   Pouring cereal (perhaps put it in a small container so they can pour more easily) and the milk (from a smaller pitcher).

10)  Help prepare the family meal – wash veggies, tear lettuce, etc.

11)  Help bake simple desserts (it’s okay if there’s a spill).

12) Getting the mail.

13) Allow them to play without constant supervision.

14) Sort laundry (with help) and match the clean socks.

15)  Put away own clean clothes.  Put dirty clothes in hamper for washing.

Home Responsibilities for a 5 and 6 year old

1)   Help with meal planning and grocery shopping (i.e. write list, retrieve items from the shelves).

2)   Make own simple sandwiches and breakfast.

3)   Clean up after meals.

4)   Pour own beverages from the fridge.

5)   Take a more active role in cooking and adding to the recipes.

6)   Make own bed and clean own room.

7)   Dress independently.

8)   Clean the bathroom sink (with child-safe products).

9)   Spray and clean mirrors and windows (at least the bottom half!)

10)   Separate their own laundry on laundry day.

11)   Fold clothes and put them away.

12)   Answer the phone and dial when making calls to family/friends.

13)   Yard work.

14)   Paying for small purchases at the check out.

15)   Taking out the garbage and bringing back the bins.

16)   Cleaning up after pets.

Home Responsibilities for a 7 year old

1)   Answer the phone and write down messages.

2)   Run basic errands for parents (i.e. take something to the next door neighbour)

3)   Water the lawn and shovel the snow.

4)   Train pets.

5)   Carry in the grocery bags.

6)   Get ready for school and bed with little involvement from parent.

7)   Take notes to and from the school.

8)   Leave the bathroom in neat order (hang up towels, change toilet paper roll, etc.)

Home Responsibilities for 8-11 year old

1)   Set the table completely and properly.

2)   Mop the floor.

3)   Responsible for own bathing and showering.

4)   Straighten out closet and store seasonal clothing.

5)   Shop for and select own clothing with the help (and money) of parents.

6)   Cook for the family once a month.

7)   Change sheets on the bed.

8)   Operate the washing machine and dryer (measure out the detergent).

9)   Help neighbours with their chores.

A Pocket Guide to kids are worth it!

Someone once told me that they read parenting books looking for experts who support their child rearing beliefs and when they find the one that does just that, all the rest are garbage.

I have my fair share of parenting books.  Some have been given to me, like Trees Make The Best Mobiles and others I bought in a panic hoping to get a handle on a particularly trying situation, I Brake For Meltdowns: How to handle the most exasperating behavior of your 2-5 year old.

I have what I refer to as my parenting handbooks.  Books by Alyson Schafer, Michelle Nicholasen, Barbara O’Neal and Barbara Coloroso are always kept close at hand for when I need guidance, a quick how-to, or a solid suggestion – something to ground me and keep me from tipping over the edge.  These books empower me and give me confidence because let’s face it, being a parent can be a lonely job, fraught with insecurity and unknowns.

Some times I find the answers that I am seeking and other times I just roll my eyes and put it back on the shelf.  Whatever the outcome, when I flip through the pages of these books, I instantly feel a connection to a community of parents, and my situation doesn’t seem so unmanageable.

Alongside my handbooks sit my theory books.  Leonard Sax reigns over the shelf with a few titles by other experts thrown in for good measure.  I read these when I am reflecting on what kind of parent I want to be, to check of my own behaviour and when I want substantial answers that a Google search cannot provide.

There is one parenting book that has yet to be usurped from its place of prominence on my bedside table, A Pocket Guide to kids are worth it! by Barbara Coloroso.

This tiny, pocket-sized book is a compilation of highlights from my all-time favourite book, kids are worth it!  Each night before going to bed I read a few pages and like an affirmation, I feel equipped to handle the next day’s challenges.

On page 19 Coloroso outlines the four steps of discipline:

  1. Shows kids what they have done.
  2. Gives them ownership of the problem.
  3. Gives them options for solving the problem.
  4. Leaves their dignity intact.

The principles seem so simple, but parenting is emotionally charged and easily influenced by stressors like lack of sleep, financial worry, feeling overwhelmed, etc.  By reviewing a page or two nightly, it’s like rehearsing for a fire drill.  The more times something is practiced, the more ingrained it becomes and the more like second nature it feels mitigating those pesky external stressors.

I am definitely not winning any Mother Of The Year awards but when I do make mistakes (which is daily) I want to know how I can do better and Barbara Coloroso always shows me how I can be better.

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