Here are five chores to teach your kids this summer. I recommend having low expectations, some favorite kids' songs, and a bottle of wine on hand.
Keep in mind that some chores take 5-50 times to learn. I've broken chores down into several age-appropriate skills. When it comes to chores, imagine a scaffold. Your kid isn't going to wash all the dishes on day one. Start at the bottom and work your way up.
You may be surprised: this past Christmas, my husband let our 6 1/2 year old help with Christmas lights. For our son, he got to go on the roof with Dad. For my husband, he had an extra set of hands, and someone to talk to. Chores can be a bonding experience. Or, they can suck, too. Low expectations, remember? :)
Sweep and/or vacuum. Why? So. Many. Damn. Crumbs.
- 3-4 year olds SKILL 1: Sweep/vacuum under chair. SKILL 2: Sweep/vacuum under kitchen table.
- 4-5 year olds SKILL 1: Sweep/vacuum under kitchen table. SKILL 2: Sweep/vacuum eating area.
- 5-6 year olds SKILL 1: Sweep/vacuum eating area. SKILL 2: Sweep/vacuum entire kitchen floor.
Focus: Dragging crumbs into a pile and gathering in a dustbin (broom) / sucking up crumbs at the baseboards (vacuum).
Wash dishes. Why? Dishes are the most frequent chore throughout the day. Also: I hate doing dishes.
- 3-4 year olds SKILL 1: Clear own spot at table. SKILL 2: Rinse own dish(es).
- 4-5 year olds SKILL 1: Clear and rinse own dish(es). SKILL 2: Rinse family's dishes (adult clears).
- 5-6 year olds SKILL 1: Rinse family's dishes. SKILL 2: Load dishwasher and/or wash dishes.
Focus: Carefully carrying dishes, and rinsing off big chunks of food.
Do laundry. Why? As a fellow mom once said, "I'll wash. I'll dry. But don't you dare ask me to fold." Divide and conquer the clothes!
- 3-4 year olds SKILL 1: Put away folded clothes in drawers. SKILL 2: Sort family member's clothes into piles.
- 4-5 year olds SKILL 1: Sort family member's clothes into piles. SKILL 2: Fold wash clothes, socks, underwear.
- 5-6 year olds SKILL 1: Fold wash cloths, socks, underwear. SKILL 2: Fold shirts and all clothes.
Focus: Laying clothing flat and folding at the middle.
Cook. Why? For me, personally, it's so I raise kick-ass males who know their way around a kitchen and cannot only survive but thrive on their own.
- 3-4 year olds SKILL 1: Bake with Mom or Dad. SKILL 2: Prepare simple appetizer with Mom or Dad.
- 4-5 year olds SKILL 1: Prepare simple appetizer with Mom or Dad. SKILL 2: Make a sandwich.
- 5-6 year olds SKILL 1: Make a sandwich. SKILL 2: "Cook" a simple meal. (Ideal for summer: salad with a protein.)
Focus: Measuring ("to the tippy top"), spreading ("to the edges"), and chopping carefully.
Clean toilets. Why? Didn't you just read that I have three boys???
- 3-4 year olds SKILL 1: Wipe seat/rim with paper after use. SKILL 2: Wipe seat/rim with wipe at end of day or every few.
- 4-5 year olds SKILL 1: Wipe seat/rim with wipe at end of day/every few. SKILL 2: Wipe entire toilet starting at top and working down.
- 5-6 year olds SKILL 1: Wipe entire toilet starting at top and working down. SKILL 2: Spray toilet bowl cleaner and scrub with brush.
Focus: Wiping until we can't see pee or poop. (And all the moms said, "Amen."
What chore(s) do you find the most important?