What’s the right age for kids to contribute to the household?

Be it cooking, cleaning or anything else that’s required to run a household, what age should kids be contributing to the household?  Or should they never?  Is it just easier for to do it yourself?


12 responses to “What’s the right age for kids to contribute to the household?

  1. We have a very distinct expectation that kids should be involved in the household.

    Our daughter is now 12 and can help in most areas. She has learnt to put a load of washing on, cook a basic meal, and takes some responsibility for the house. As we both work full time, she has learnt about being part of a team.

    It started very early with us helping her to clean her toys, and we slowly and gently added a few extra duties.

    It is our belief it doesn’t hurt for kids to learn about helping in a house, after all, as they get older and have a job, they will need to be able to use team work, and to clean their own areas.

  2. Actually we used parts of it to indicate a “rite of passage” as it were. She used to be a Cub Scout, and the cooking badges was one of her badges.

    This meant she had to cook a 3 course meal, and CLEAN up after herself. with getting

    She sometimes acts out, but most of the time, we are all working together, and she is fine. With all of the time we have spent working on our de-cluttering, she has learnt she needs to keep her stuff fairly minimal to be able to cope with it. WHen we moved house, and she moved into a smaller bedroom, she was struggling, but she knew it, and asked for help, getting her “stuff” to a manageable level.

    I have to also say she LOVES the comic, and is relishing learning how to manage her time. – Just a little plug for you.

    I know that the Individual Differences co-ordinator at her school has been approved to put some money aside from the Year 7 budget to subscribe to the comics, as she thinks they are great.

  3. Not having children it is difficult for me to comment with any experience behind it, but I think that as soon as children can walk and carry things easily, they can learn to at least put their toys away at that age.

    Children would also be more likely to eat healthy food and learn to cook if given the opportunity to help out in the kitchen.

    My family didn’t teach me much of anything – it was therefore a huge challenge to create a meal for our family and a visiting family one night. It worked out ok, but I did struggle.

    Life after leaving home is so much easier if you learn things as you grow up. Its not about parents being lazy – its about taking responsibility, learning life skills, and it needn’t be boring or physically hard work.

    • You hit the nail on the head Robin – sometimes these things can become a big struggle later in life if we haven’t learned them early on. Managing money is a good example of how that can go horribly wrong!

  4. I have a 2 year old son who has helped put his toys away from a very early age. We live in a very small place and he knows that if he wants different toys out he has to pack up what’s already out.

    He can also load the washing machine if I put the clothes on the floor he will carry them one by one and put them in the machine. He will also help cook dinner by cutting vegies and stirring as appropriate.

    He really just loves being a “help” and although sometimes it’s not a help I think it’s important to start these lessons early.

  5. Jodi – I am so very impressed! Your son will always be very independent I think! Won’t rely on anyone else to pick up after him.

    I had a chuckle at the “sometimes it’s not a help” – agreed – it can be lots of hard work to teach (and sustain) teaching kids good habits.

  6. I have a 2yo girl and a 4yo boy. Both kids put their clothes in the dirty clothes basket, take their dirty dishes from the table and put them in the sink and are expected to pick up their own toys.

    My 4yo also helps to set the table.

    I try to get them to help me in the kitchen whenever possible, since they are both very interested in cooking. (My secret plan is to have them cooking easy meals one night a week by the time they are 10 – 12yo).

    After finding my 2yo “cleaning” the back glass sliding door using the dust brush and water from the dog’s bowl – I wonder if I should let her help me clean more!

    • I think your strategy is BRILLIANT having the kids cooking one meal a week – absolutely fantastic goal to have.

      “cleaning” the back door is pretty funny! reminds me of the girl “washing up” mum’s laptop on that TV commercial….

  7. My kids (triplets, now 9 y.o.) have always been expected to help around the house in age and ability appropriate ways. So when they were smaller, it was putting toys away or wiping tables down (all kids love water and rags, don’t they?). As they got older we added things like taking the trash out, stacking the dishwasher, feeding and the dog and so on.

    These days we have a rotating chore list and each kid has different jobs for each day – so it might include putting on a load of laundry, folding clean clothes (and putting them away), taking out rubbish and recycling, walking the dog, cleaning toilets (Sunday is whole house cleaning day) and so on and so forth. They don’t complain or resent it because a) they’ve been doing it so long they know it’s just expected of them and b) we taught them that they are part of a household, which is basically a small ‘community’ and in a community everyone takes part.

    For what it’s worth, lots of our friends with similar age kids are shocked at how much my kids do, or that they do it at all. Me, I’m shocked that THEIR kids are not doing the same

    Just my two cents!


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