Monday, November 14, 2011

Tuesday Tip: Age appropriate chores for tots six and under

Last week my six year old, Liam, asked me what happened to his allowance... which prompted me to ask him what happened to making his bed and putting his dirty laundry in the basket!  In our house, an allowance has to be earned and, while our savvy six-year old is slowly but surely beginning to understand that if he wants a new Hexbug or more baseball cards, he needs to save up for them, everyone in our house understands the need to pitch in and pick up.  

I'm a strong believer that it's never too early to teach good habits and put the peanuts to work.  I suppose it's the way I was raised.  I remember making my bed every day before school and washing the dishes every night after dinner... yep, I'm that old.  We didn't even have a dishwasher.  Well, I suppose we did; it was me. In any case, I know I moaned and groaned about doing my chores just as my kids do today and generations of kids did long before me.  But, I think there's great merit to teaching kids to making a contribution in the home, now matter how small. I'd like to think that by creating responsible citizens here in the Lyons Den, I'm creating a mindset that will lead them on to be good world citizens, good corporate citizens and one day, instill the same morals and work ethic in their own offspring.  Gee, that sounds pretty grand for making a bed, doesn't it?!  

Keeping in mind that our triplets just turned three, Ciara just turned five and Liam is on the brink of seven, here are a few of their routine chores... that frankly, if they would do more routinely, they would get that allowance after all!
  • Put dirty laundry in the hamper; this is one all five are capable of but, since I still pick up my husband's dirty socks, well, let's just say it's a work in progress!
  • Set the table.While it wouldn't meet with the Miss Manners rules of etiquette, it gets done.  I may eat dinner with a cake fork and they might scoop it up with a soup spoon but still, it gets done!
  • Clear the table. Liam and Ciara scrape their plates and put them in the dishwasher and the three little ones just put plates on the counter... typically dropping a few scraps for the (very happy) dog along the way!
  • Make the bed.  The triplets are still in cribs (and I fear the day they get out) but Liam and Ciara are perfectly capable of making their beds... granted, not the way I would make them (even my husband struggles with the "hospital corners" that I was taught) but, they can pull up sheets, toss on the comforter and pile on the stuffed animals.  And that's good enough for now.  As an FYI, this doesn't typically happen in the Monday-Friday morning on mayhem but on weekends, it's a requirement. 
  • "Carry in, Carry out."  The National Parks made it famous and I've made it my own.  This simple rule can relate to bookshelves, toy chests, the art box, the backyard, the front porch and even the mini-van.  You carry it in, you carry it out.  Or put another way, you take it out, you put it away... Legos, puzzles, Candy Land, Lite Brite, you name it.  All five kids understand this one.  It requires daily reminders but it's well worth the effort.  Even though there's almost always an errant Lego or Matchbox car that ends up under my bare foot eliciting a primal howl of pain, it still beats playing 52 pick up by myself late at night!
Beyond these basics, they also like to help with yard work which, depending on the season, may include watering plants, raking leaves or shoveling.  They aspire to help with laundry but for now seem to get more of a kick from playing in the laundry baskets.  They would love to "help" in the kitchen and when time permits, I let them... they can quickly unload a bag of groceries and Liam and Ciara have even been known to crack an egg now and again -- a source of great pride for them.  Which, at the end of the day, is another great lesson to be learned from a few simple chores -- taking pride in the work that you do, no matter how big or small.  And, if you can earn a few bucks doing it, well then that's all the better!


jodi said...

Kerry, great post! My 3 1/2 year old clears her plate, folds her napkin and pushes in her chair. Dirty laundry always in the hamper, too. But here's a good one: groceries! Not all of them, but she loves putting the cans of cat food away, and other dry products in the pantry.

My mom had a chart on the fridge when we were growing up. Each box had a chore and monetary value. My sisters and I would do what we wanted, knowing how much we would get.

Jenni said...

My 5 yr old and my 15 month old put the silverware away together! The 15 month old insists on helping. He hands the silverware to his brother who puts it in the drawer. (We do not wash sharp knives in the dishwasher - they get handwashed!)