With the kids home there is more laundry, more dishes, more chores in general. Sudden changes in our routines have everyone stressed, but some sort of daily life has to carry on. Overwhelm sets in quickly. There is hope though!
Unless your kids are very small, there are definitely chores they can do to help ease the workload. It isn’t mean or unfair to expect your kids to contribute. In fact, it is beneficial.
So, give them chores with no guilt and know that you are making more self-sufficient adults.
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Chores Your Kids Can Do To Help Out
Pick up after themselves — There is no reason most children over the age of 2 can’t do this with some supervision. Under 2 can still help you with some hands-on direction. Expect your older kids to not leave trash around, pick up activities/toys as they finish, and deal with any dishes too.
Laundry — All kids can help pick up any laundry lying around. Most can load the washer and move clothes to the dryer (with or without supervision). My kids start learning to do their own laundry as soon as they can reach everything they need. That’s about 10 years old for us. I insist on an adult handling the bleach until they are maybe 14.
Folding laundry is a chore that can be started with little ones also. Toddlers can pick out socks or washcloths to make a pile. Preschoolers can match socks, fold washcloths, and try folding their own pants (usually simple at that size). As they get older they get more coordinated and can handle more. If they find ways to fold clothes that is different than your method, don’t correct them. Let them problem solve and grow in their responsibilities. My 10 year old folds his shirts in a “weird” way, but he puts them away himself, and that’s all that matters.
Trash — All ages can help pick up any trash they find, and most will be able to gather the trash from cans around the house to put in the dumpster. Older kids, with enough strength, can take any larger bags out for you. Don’t forget to show them how to put a new bag in also.
Dishes — More time at home means a lot more dishes. (I’m not sure about those mathematics, but that’s how it goes.) Kids can bring their dishes into the kitchen after meals and even load the dishwasher. Start with their own dishes and slowly teach them how to load the rest. If you feel they have the coordination, start them on hand-washing also. Younger kids can start with plastic dishware and move on from there. Silverware is a good way to start also. Nothing will get broken, but it takes attention to detail.
Meal Prep — When doing the prep work for meals, get your kids involved. Kids can chop veggies, measure ingredients, stir, and more depending on what you teach them. Many parents find their kids are more willing to eat meals that they’ve helped make. It’s a good idea to make snacks and simple lunch ingredients available. This way you aren’t expected to stop everything to get a snack multiple times a day. It’s ok to let them listen to their stomachs and eat when they are hungry.
Wipe down/clean the table/counter — Schools are closed due to germs, so now is a great time to teach kids that we need to keep surfaces germ-free for cooking and eating. Once the other clean-up is done, they can use whatever method you prefer to get that countertop and dining table (or trays, whatever) clean and ready for next time.
Clean the bathroom sink/toilet — Are your kids trashing the bathroom now that they’re home all day? Don’t worry, it doesn’t need to add to your chore list. Make it their responsibility to wipe the toilet with a disinfecting wipe every time they go if they can’t be more careful.
Since my go-to of Clorox wipes are not readily available right now, I did a search for a good substitute. CleanMama.com shared a great recipe for DIY Disinfectant. This might not be the thing to use if you are wanting to kill the COVID-19 virus, but it should work great for disinfecting the toilet. The vodka is a great germ killer, and probably easier to find than isopropyl alcohol right now. If missing the bowl isn’t a problem, have a toilet brush available with a bit of soap for them to swish over the surfaces of the bowl once a week to keep it smelling fresh.
Bathroom counter/sink chores are just as doable. You can expect your kids to wipe up any water mess they make, and even do a once-a-week cleaning to keep it all germ-free and sparkling.
Vacuuming — Bigger kids can absolutely do the vacuuming and sweeping (if you have hard floors). Everyone brings in the mess, so everyone can take a turn cleaning it up. Swiffer sweepers work well to help them get the last of the pet hair or dust on those hard floors. I used to have a bigger kid sweep with a broom, and then a younger one would finish up with the Swiffer.
Dusting — We are dealing with a pandemic that involves a respiratory illness. Keeping our house as dust-free as we can is going to give our lungs a break, so they are less irritated and more able to fight sickness off. Swiffer dusters make quick work of it, but microfiber cloths work just as well, as does a damp cloth. You might not want them to dust some more fragile knickknacks, but you probably have plenty of surfaces they can dust.
All of these chores are just a part of running a household. Your kids are going to need to know how to do all of this to care for their own home as an adult anyway, so let them start now. It will ease your load, make them feel involved, and teach important life skills.