How We Do Chores {5 years old & 2 years old}

I am a firm believer in chores.  I am pretty sure I had chores early on in life, but unfortunately all I can remember is using my Fischer-Price vacuum.  When I was around 7 years old I remember better.  My mom had me dust, unload the dishwasher, take the trash out of the trashcans in the bathrooms and rooms, things like that.  Brandon had daily chores.  Things like weeding, mowing, sweeping, vacuuming, and taking out the trash.  So we believe in the value of having our girls work hard and participate in helping around the house.  I can’t recall at what age I began having each of them learn how to do some chores.  I think Shiloh was 3 when I first started.  But lets just say these are the chores they get to do now that they are 5 and 2 (2 and a half to be exact).

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I usually try to time the chores while Leilani is first up in the morning.  That way they can get into their room and not disturb her nap time.  We typically start with them both helping to unload any clothes from the dryer.  Most mornings its Brandon’s work clothes in there, so they already know that those go onto Mommy & Daddy’s bed (for me to fold and put away later on).  Then we take out the family laundry hamper.

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One takes the clothes out of the hamper, and the other puts them into the washing machine.  I usually monitor the clothes going into the wash, in case there are any special items that need to be cared for differently.  Most of the time I wash all our clothes the same: delicate cycle with cold water.  Any stained clothes or whites that get bleached don’t get put into the laundry hamper, I keep them up on the washing machine so I can pre-treat them, and then those loads I do without the girlies help.  Anyways.  We start the load and they have a blast taking turns pushing the buttons.

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Then they move into their room.  With three girls all sharing a modest sized room, we have to keep it clean.  I have organized their toys into 4 totes, labeled, and placed inside the closet.  They both know which toys belong where.  Well, I should say, Shiloh knows.  Capri is fairly good at it.  But honestly, I don’t care if toys get put in the wrong tote, as long as they get put into one.  Every so often I re-organize them.  It helps that they don’t have an over abundance of toys.  I am strict about that.  For us, it works to keep the toys to a minimum and to make sure we have a small amount of toys that give them hours of fun, creative, and endless play.  Also, we don’t have many large toys. Maybe 4 or 5 bigger toys and those we have found spots for under the bed, or the closet also.  I learned a couple years ago that if I had a spot for their toys to go, then it made cleaning up a breeze.  Now no matter how messy their room gets, they can clean it up completely in under 10 minutes all by themselves.  Seriously, all moms need to figure out a system that works for them like this.  Its amazing.

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Shiloh has been learning how to make her bed.  Again, I don’t care if its perfect, as long as the sheets and comforter are pulled up and the stuffed animals are put away or put neatly by the pillows.  While they work on those chores, I grab anything that is on their dresser and clean those things up.  And then when the totes are all filled, I pick them up and put them back into the closet.  Capri and Shiloh then do a sweep of the living room looking for any toys left around out there and put them away into the totes.  Done and done.

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Next, we move out to the living room.  Capri puts books away into the book basket that have been taken out.  I let them have the freedom to grab library books at any time to sit and read to themselves.  So usually they have made a mess after breakfast and there are books all over the sofa and floor.  Putting them away is a perfect chore for little Capri.  And everything takes longer with a 2 year old.  So while she does that.  Shiloh sweeps.

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Shiloh hasn’t always swept.  Before I gave her my little hand vac and let her vacuum up the crumbs under the kitchen table.  But now she is good as sweeping.  I guess its a perfect example of how some kids motor skills need time to grow before they are ready for certain chores.  She is able to sweep the entire main rooms and also manage sweeping up the crumbs into the dustpan.  She misses spots, but that is fine.  I deep clean it myself enough that having her miss places is still worth having her learn and help with a majority of the floors.

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When the floors have been swept, its Capri’s turn to dry mop them.  She LOVES to do this.  She’ll actually do it for 30 minutes if I let her.

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By this time, the clothes in the wash are finished.  Just to give you an idea of the time, the cycle runs for 34 minutes.  So all in 30 minutes time, their room is cleaned, the main floors are swept and clean, and none of these chores were rushed… and with anything we do, there were lots of little kid breaks as they giggle and run around.  So next, the girls take their places and pull clothes out of the wash and put them into the dryer.  Its cute, with most things they like to take turns and switch around, but with this chore, Shiloh likes to pull clothes out of the wash and then hand them to Capri, and she puts them into the dryer.  I usually watch them do this just to make sure nothing that is suppose to air dry gets put in the dryer, or to help with any wet clothes that get tangled and hard to pull out of the washing machine.

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Then fast forward and when the clothes are all done and dry, I sit down on the floor and fold them up.  What works for me is to just fold up the girls clothes into sorted piles.  I save Brandon and my clothes to do later myself.  Then Shiloh’s job is to take each pile and go put them away in her drawers.

Like I said before, this is a typical chore time for us.  But it varies.  I don’t use a chart… my girls just aren’t motivated by stickers for these kinds of things.  Some days its just one of these chores.  Some days we don’t do any.  But I think the biggest thing I have learned is that they aren’t doing a chore without watching me do them first.  They have watched me for so long doing these things that now they are familiar with them.  And in some cases are eager to do it because they want to be “like mommy”.  Also, most of these chores I had to work at teaching them how to do them.  But it pays off.  It pays off to sit there and put in the extra time doing it alongside them because now they can do most, if not all their chores, completely independent.  I just tell them its time to clean their room, and they do it.  When we first began, I had to sit in their room, pick up a toy, and then point to where they should go put it.  So some chores take that investment time first.  Other chores they get to do are helping to feed Roxy, clean their hamster’s cage, take groceries out of the bag and hand them to me, put their dirty dishes into the sink, wipe clean the kitchen table, and when we go grocery shopping, they get to hold the list for me and help me check out.

I also don’t pay them.  Maybe one day I’ll give them opportunities to go above and beyond and earn some money doing a chore.  But for now, I am teaching them that these chores are just a part of their role in our family.  Their reward for cleaning their room is having a clean room (and a sane mommy).  I make sure I encourage them.  Their little personalities love to hear “I love the way you are sweeping”  or “you are really great at putting your toys where they belong”.  They are learning to take pride in their chores and have fun while doing them.  I love seeing their faces as they do their chores.  It says everything.

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