Move Out Skills: A guide to age-appropriate chores

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Will and Jen Miller’s daughter may only be five years old, but for the last year she has been doing chores around the house. Sure, she is still a preschooler, but they know she is capable of taking on certain responsibilities and they understand the importance of getting her involved and learning life skills at an early age. As a result, she now cleans her room, makes her bed and feeds the dog.

“We feel it teaches her the value of earning what you get and not just to expect to have everything given to you,” Will said. He grew up doing chores, so it is important to him to teach his daughters to do likewise. “We wanted to start teaching her how to manage money. Hopefully it will be second nature when she gets older, when it counts.”

Christine Koh, co-author of “Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less,” is a strong advocate for getting kids involved around the house. “Chores are a good thing for everyone. They teach kids valuable everyday life skills, help kids learn that they are part of a family system, and also alleviate the load for parents. Let go of perfection and start simple, with tasks such as setting the table and emptying lunchboxes, and gradually work your way up to food prep, laundry, etc. And while you can incorporate kids into chores any time, you can definitely start early. My 2-year-old knows how to take her dinner plate from the table to the sink, and just last weekend I taught her to make lasagna. True story.”

MoveOutSkills: A guide to age-appropriate chores

Koh’s co-author, Asha Dornfest, had to creatively label chores to her son who wasn’t sure he wanted to take part. “I spun it to him that these are move out skills. Every time you learn to wash a dish or a piece of clothing, you are learning valuable skills that your future roommate will appreciate. We believe this benefits the kids in so many ways. The biggest thing in dialing back the parenting is that we are giving our kids room to learn skills they will need as adults and to develop confidence as they grow. When they start accomplishments on their own, they feel confidence for themselves. We are raising individuals.”

The following is a list of general ages when kids can start doing various chores. As Christine pointed out, chores and responsibilities can start at a young age. By doing so, you are setting the foundation that your child is a part of the family and he has a vital role to play. Regardless of how old your child is now, he can start learning those valuable “move out” skills. His future spouse will thank you.

Preschool

Help set the table.
Clear their dishes from the table.
Assist with cleaning up toys.
Straighten their bedding.
Put away their shoes.
Put their dirty laundry in the hamper.
Feed and water the pets.
Unload the silverware from the dishwasher.
Match socks and fold towels.
Assist with cleaning windows.
Help with dusting.
Dress themselves.
Help prepare food.
Water flowers.

Move Out Skills: A guide to age-appropriate chores

Kindergarten and Early Elementary

Dust.
Get the mail.
Make the bed.
Empty and fill the dishwasher.
Put away their laundry.
Clean windows.
Clean their rooms unassisted.
Vacuum.
Gather food for lunchboxes.
Empty lunchboxes.
Make simple meals, such as peanut butter and jelly, cereal, sandwiches and more.
Gather the trash and recycling.
Place their laundry in the washing machine.
Weed.

Move Out Skills: A guide to age-appropriate chores

Upper Elementary

Pack lunch for school.
Wash, dry, fold and put away their laundry.
Mop.
Wash dishes.
Clean mirrors.
Clean bathrooms.
Sew buttons.
Make own snacks and breakfast.
Rake leaves.
Shovel snow.
Take trash and recycling to the curb.

Jr. High

Babysit, with supervision until age 14.
Iron clothes.
Wash car.
Change their bedding.
Plan and prepare family meals.
Mow and trim the lawn.

High School

At this point, most kids should be able to do everything around the house. That doesn’t mean they will have the motivation or desire to do so, but soon enough they will get to put those move out skills to the test.

Don’t be afraid to get your kids involved with household duties at an early age. As Will pointed out, five-year-olds are capable of cleaning up after themselves and taking care of the pets. Or, consider Christine’s two-year-old making lasagna. Now, that’s a move out skill that her future roommates will definitely appreciate.

What chores are your kids doing around the house? Or which ones will you start incorporating today?

Be sure to check out the book “Minimalist Parenting” for more tips and ideas of how to enjoy life more by doing less.

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{This article first appeared in The Family Magazine of Michiana.}

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