Big Kids, Parenting

When is the right time for kids to start doing household chores?

Melissa Imbesi by Melissa Imbesi
June 27th, 2016

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to start washing the dishes.  I know, what an IDIOT. Had I known that I was looking down the barrel of endless years of dish washing ahead, I NEVER would have begged mum to let me start helping out.  When I was old enough (maybe around nine), my mum gave me the full run-down: wash dishes with detergent – rinse clean – put in dish rack.  Easy enough.

I bloody loved doing the dishes whenever the opportunity arose, but that was until mum scouted my cleaning potential and made it official. I was made the after-dinner dish washer, my brother was the dish drier and my sister did the wiping of the benches and hotplate.

And now at 39, I’m still doing the dishes.

My daughter is ten and the closest she’s come to washing a dish has been in the sink of her toy kitchen. It recently dawned on me that while my kids are great in so many ways, they are bloody lazy when it comes to helping out around the house. My daughter will set the table for dinner at night when she’s in the mood, but neither she nor my son will do the stuff I ask of them, which is most often picking up THEIR shit from around the house. It’s only when I yell “That’s IT!”, grab a rubbish bag and tell them I’m sending all of their stuff to another kid who really deserve it that they haul ass and start packing up.

kids chores

Yeah, yeah, it’s all smiles until you realise it’s FOREVER….

Who is to blame here? Me? It’s TOTALLY me, I know that. While I’m on their backs constantly about things like manners and being kind to others, I have really let shit slip in the home chores department. The thing is, I’m really torn on what I think is appropriate for kids aged ten and eight to do around the house? Is it my own laziness, knowing that l’ll most probably just have to go over what they’ve done, or is it that I just think they’re too young; that stuff like washing dishes is MY responsibility, not theirs? Honestly, I think it’s a bit of both.

I want my kids to know that the house doesn’t run itself, that they shouldn’t expect their dad and I to do everything while they sit back and dance around the house in chore-free heaven. Keeping our home clean and tidy is a family responsibility, not a parental one. But then I catch myself wondering – should I just let them be kids for a bit? They’ve got their whole lives to unload the dishwasher and make the bed; should I just let them enjoy this time because once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.

So dear readers, I ask what YOU think is the right age for kids to start doing chores around the house – and I’m not just talking about picking up their toys. Making beds? Putting away their own ironing? Folding socks and undies? Dusting? At what age do you get your kids to start helping you and your partner out with the domestic duties in the house? Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a pile of dishes in the sink waiting….

What chores do you get your kids to do around the house? 

Jess Mauboy chats to us about all things Aus Idol, long-distance relationships and her INCREDIBLE upbringing in the podcast below. Tune in, then come hang with us in podcast land here.