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Our Favourite Ways to get Children Helping Around the House

Getting children to help around the house can lead to tears, tantrums and pulling out your hair, but it doesn't have to. The sooner children start helping with chores the easier it is to keep them involved and feel a sense of responsibility

 

Giving children small tasks to do around the house not only allows them to feel a like they are a part of the household but to learn to respect what you do to keep your house running.

It is also an opportunity to learn the tools they will need as young adults. We know it's hard to think about this when Johnny is only three but it's never too soon to start!

Chores around the house for kids

Routine

Kids can help with LaundryOne of the easiest ways to get children involved in chores is to make them routine. Whether it is simple tasks that are done daily or a family chore session on Saturday morning, if children know that tasks need to be done before anything else happens, the battles diminish greatly! While the times should be set, it's sometimes a good idea to rotate the chores so no one, including yourself, gets bored.

If everyone is doing chores at the same time no one feels like they could be doing something else!

Don't use chores as threats; otherwise your child will always associate them with something negative.

Don't ask

You are the parent and what you say goes, well in this case at least. Don't ask your children if they'll help with something, give them a task. Without asking a question, the wiggle room disappears and you don't end up standing there with a pile of plates in your hand wondering how you got stuck setting the table again.

Dishes are a way to teach responsibility and bondAppropriateness

It is important to make sure that your child is assigned chores that are physically possible for them to. Asking a three year old to set the table when they can't reach the top will make them frustrated and end in tears, but getting them to help you match socks not only gets a job done but also helps them practice matching patterns!

Every child is different and it's important to listen to them when they say something is too hard, see if you can adapt it or swap things around, this will help you build a sense of trust and your child will believe that you are actually listening! You know your child better than anyone so pick chores that you think suit them and that they'll be comfortable doing.

Here are some suggestions of chores your kids can help with:

  • 3 year olds love to help, whether it's putting away one thing at a time or lathering up the dishes in the sink (OK, we only give them the plastic plates and glasses), they are big on mimicking what you are doing, even if you need to go along behind them and give something a proper scrub! Having them deliver laundry to peoples rooms or even pretend to dust with socks on their hands is a good way to involve them in the tasks you're completing.
  • 4 and 5 year olds should be expected to put away all their toys, keep their rooms clean, set and clear parts of the table and even help dust on cleaning day. Helping with whatever you're preparing for dinner is a good way get them comfortable with tasks in the kitchen.
  • 6 and 7 year olds can start to help with bigger tasks, if you have a pet, they can help take them for a walk or empty the dish washer, make lunches, and make their beds. They are also big enough to help fold laundry and help sort the recycling.
  • 8 and 9 year olds are big enough to set the table by themselves and start taking on some of the bigger tasks like hoovering or sweeping the kitchen floor. Nothing should stand in the way of these kids helping when you're washing the car or raking leaves in the garden.
  • 10 and 11 year olds should be helping with most tasks from folding laundry, putting away groceries, taking out the trash and learning how to start the machines that help lighten the load.
  • Once they hit their teenage years, you should be able to have a helper on all tasks, from cutting grass to changing sheets and preparing simple meals. By this stage they should be quite autonomous in their tasks and able to complete them to your standards.

Even small children can pick up thier own toys and put them awayPersonal

When a task is assigned to a specific child, making it personal means they understand why they are doing it. If they have to pick up their sister's toys, or make their brother's bed, they are unlikely to complete the task without argument, and you can see why! By making the task relate to them, you add an onus of personal responsibility to the task, cleaning up after themselves should be second nature, unless you want to be picking up after them until they leave home for good!

Feedback

It's important to give kids feedback on the job they are doing BUT remember not to criticise, they are trying and it's a learning process. If you shout or make them feel they can't do the job they won't want to try again. Offering praise and showing them how to do it differently will provide you with a more positive result. Remember you will need to have patience as you may find their standards are different than yours! At times, it may seem simpler to throw your hands up in the air and do it yourself, this will result in you doing all the chores, and your child learning that if they don't do something well the first time around, they won't have to do it again.

Make chores fun for kids

We all remember how chores can seem to take forever and the more fun you can inject the better it seems. Mary Poppins infused her chores with song and dance. Not everyone is that musical but if you have a chore morning, why not crank up the volume on the stereo and take turns listening to music you all like! It's amazing how much faster time flies when you're singing along to your favourite tunes.

Knowing there is something fun planned for after a chore morning is another way to keep a smile on their faces. Whether it's a trip to the park on a sunny day or a movie afternoon with friends in the rain, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Make it a race, depending on your child, competition can make things fun, but rather than pit siblings against each other, seeing if they can beat their own times can encourage them. Make sure to keep an eye on quality though as speed can sometimes change the quality of their work.

Incentive

Make chores like dusting the house fun

Not everyone believes in giving children an allowance for helping with chores, but if you do there are different ways to go about it.

It's a good idea to get kids helping without thinking they will get paid for everything they do, but having a list of chores that they are expected to do and a list of chores that they can do if they want to earn extra pocket money bridges that gap. The extra chores should have different values associated with them depending on what they are expected to do. This can include things that don't have to be done all the time like washing the car or cutting the grass or weeding the garden.

Incentives don't have to be financial. Family outings, treat nights and play-dates are a good way to reward the efforts of the kids.

 

 
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