A few conversations I've had with various people recently has led me to realize that some moms don't ever stop to think about what their kids can be capable of. And since chores are fresh in my mind after recently reading Managers of Their Chores and implementing a version of their system, I thought I'd take a couple minutes to give people some ideas of things that 5 (almost 6) year olds are capable of given the opportunity/encouragement/training.
First the disclaimer: Only you know YOUR kids. Don't turn them lose with a knife or other tools just because someone on the internet says THEIR 5 yr olds use them. Supervise, watch how they do, discuss safety procedures, and make final decisions based on your own children.
So, here is our current "chore chart". A couple other disclaimer type things, keep in mind that we are homeschoolers, I don't think my kids would have as many chores if they were away from home for 8+ hours a day in school &/or various extra-curriculars, but thanks to our lifestyle we spend a maximum of a couple of hours per day on "school" type stuff, we spread our chores out through the day, they work alongside me, and they also have plenty of time for independant, creative play. Also, our system is rather complicated because I have 2 kids who are the same age & at the same skill level. Rather than having whining about "why doesn't she have to unload the dishwasher" or "why does she get to feed the dog & I don't?" I opted to alternate days/weeks for most chores (laundry is the one that is currently all one kid, A has a fascination w/ laundry, L has no interest, I didn't see a reason to have L whining about having to do laundry AND A whining about not GETTING to do laundry just to keep things "fair").
Ok, so NOW here's the chore list:
- Read Bible (1 verse per day at this point)/Pray
- Get Dressed
- Ask Mommy to Brush Hair (I put this one in because I am horrible about remembering to brush their hair, this gets it "scheduled" so that it happens regularly AND so that we're not scrambling to get it done when I suddenly notice it needs doing as we walk out the door)
- Unload Dishwasher (alternate days, we had them working together on it, but they kept fighting, so now we're trying alternating. They can leave things they can't reach/don't know where goes in the dishwasher for me & they leave the sharp knives on the counter (or I pull them out in advance when I'm in the kitchen while they're doing it) for me to put on the magnetic knife bar. They know to hold knives pointing down & be careful with them)
- Feed the dog, make sure she has water, let her out (& back in) to potty. (alternate days)
- A helps sort & put laundry in the washer
- Help prepare breakfast
- Put their own dishes in the dishwasher after breakfast.
- A helps hang the laundry (outside or in the bathroom) or (a few loads in the winter) put them in the dryer)
- A sets table & helps prepare lunch if there's more to do once the table is set
- L helps prepare lunch
- L clears table
- A helps clean up kitchen
- Monday- A cleans the microwave door & L cleans the dishwasher door
- Tuesday - they work together to water plants (with mom's help to make sure they don't overwater)
- Wednesday - they work together to gather small trash cans & put in the outside trash can and L dusts downstairs while A dusts upstairs
- Thursday - Clean bathroom sink (alternate weeks), clean bathtub (alternate weeks), vacuum bathroom w/ rechargable stick vac (alternate weeks), mop bathroom with small microfiber mop (alternate weeks)
- Friday - work together to clear all toys & trash from car, work together to make sure all outside toys are picked up and put away.
- L sets table for supper and helps prepare supper if there's more to do after table is set
- A helps prepare supper
- A clears table
- L helps slean up kitchen
- Work together to pick up/put away any toys on main level
- Work together to pick up/put away any toys upstairs
- Brush teeth, go potty
- Fri night L takes a bath (A either takes a bath Thurs night or a shower Fri morning, her choice)
- Put away clean laundry: hang up their clothes (I put them on hangers, they put in closet), match socks, fold their pajamas, put all socks, underwear & their pajamas where they go.
Meal prep can include lots of things depending what we're having, including:
- stirring things on the stove
- chopping/slicing soft things with a knife (broccoli, olives, cucumbers . . .)
- Putting things through the food processor or salad shooter
- Tearing up lettuce for salad, etc.
- We get big bags of frozen vegetables & such from Sams and don't have room for them in our upstairs freezer, once I've used however much we're using for that meal they can carry the bag back down & put it back in the basement deep freeze.
- Cracking eggs (we always crack eggs one at a time into a small bowl & then pour into the pan or mixing bowl (w/ free range eggs this guards against the very rare egg w/ blood in it or similar, AND means it's pretty easy to fish out pieces of shell if an egg isn't cracked perfectly)
- Putting dirty dishes in sink or on counter next to sink
- Putting anything that goes directly into the fridge away (water, milk, ketchup bottle, etc).
- Putting other food on the counter for me to put into storage containers to put away
We use vinegar, baking soda, etc. to clean most things so I don't have to worry about young children using dangerous chemicals.
Seeing their pride & excitement when they tackle a new chore is so fun to see. Also as we anticipate the arrival of a new brother or sister, they enjoy talking about how they will be able to teach & help the baby learn chores as she or he grows. They like knowing that as time progresses they will be able to do the "hard part" and pass the easier parts on to their younger sibling (ie. they will put the high up dishes away and "the baby" will put the silverware away when it's time to unload the dishwasher).
Involving kids of all ages in chores works for me on many levels. It teaches them valuable skills and habits, it gives them a sense of pride in accomplishment. AND it helps me have more time to play games, read stories and otherwise do "fun stuff" with my kids.