25 Aug
Turn Your Kid from a Home Wrecker to a Help

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My daughter is six and does absolutely nothing around the house.   What is a reasonable chore for her? And at what age should chores start?


I’ve Given Birth to a Freeloader


Dear I’ve Given Birth to a Freeloader,

I know you submitted this question a few weeks ago and I’m sorry that I’m just answering it now. I was busy supervising my 3 month-old twins as they paint the trim on the deck.   I believe in starting chores as early as possible. All the better when they are too young to complain about it.

I think some us have a tendency to become personal assistants to our young children. We scurry around preparing snacks, picking laundry up off the floor and wiping their faces. They sit there on their royal behinds practically shouting out demands with a weak “please” sometimes thrown in.

Well ladies, it’s time to take back our self-respect. In my opinion, 6 year-olds should certainly be bringing their plates to the sink after each meal, putting their laundry in the hamper and cleaning up their toys.   When my kids (ages 3 and almost 6) show a serious lack of interest in cleaning up their playroom (even with my help), I tell them that anything left out will be tossed in the trash.   Kind of puts a fire under those royal tushes. And honestly, I’d be thrilled to throw away some of the crap, so it certainly is not an empty threat.

There’s also no reason why you can’t have your 6 year-old start some regular chores in exchange for a small allowance. Putting out the napkins and silverware for dinner each night? Maybe cleaning fingerprints off some of the windows? Making his or her bed? That sort of thing.

Just make sure you consistently require them to do it.   It’s important to get started when kids are young (age 3 is not too early) because at that age, they actually like to help. You want to establish good habits for when they no longer think “helping mommy” is super cool.

Of course, you’ll always be cool to me.

Good luck,

Kelcey, TMH

13 Responses to “Turn Your Kid from a Home Wrecker to a Help”


Comment by Miss Jen.

Try a book or 2 by Jim Fay. He teaches a parenting style called Love and Logic and it’s a life saver. For parents and kids. His section on chores is brilliant and it TOTALLY works. It worked with my teen, my 10, 5 & 3 year olds and a slight adaptation works wonders on my hubby! Good luck!

kelcey Reply:

I’m googling this guy right now!


Comment by OldLadyinaShoe.

My two 1/2 year old has been cleaning up her toys, putting clothes in the hamper, and other very simple tasks for about a year now. Now she also helps out with her baby brother by getting me a diaper for him or finding his pacifier. I think it’s really important to start teaching them as early as possible so that they never reach that feeling of entitlement. They need to know that we’re a family and we all pull together to keep the house clean and organized.


Comment by Bean.

Another super answer. My kids (3 and 5) also help out. Between the two of them, they make beds (with help), set & clear dishes, clean up toys (or they go in the “Saturday bag” – you get them back on Saturday), clean windows (vinegar & water – they love spraying), dust, put their clothes in the laundry room & put clean clothes away.

Granted, they need reminding, and it’s not always easy to get them to do it, but they are good helpers. We have talks about how 4 people live here, and 4 people need to help keep it nice. Good luck!


Comment by StephanieG.

Bean, the Saturday bag is a brilliant idea! I have a 6-year old, and my expectations of a clean room are often very different from her reality of a clean room. We shall institute the Saturday Bag immediately!

My daughter recently made a comment about how Daddy never helps out, and Mommy seems to do all the work. Funny, though, when it comes to things she could be helping me with, she conveniently forgets…..


Comment by thepsychobabble.

I have a 3 and 5 yr old. They pick up their room (put toys away, dirty clothes in the laundry), bring their dishes to the sink, wipe their spot at the table off, dust, recently started putting their laundry away, and when I threw out my back, became my little helpers by putting the laundry in the right piles, putting the piles in the washer (I ran the buttons) and then I handed them the wet clothes (top-loading washer) to put in the dryer.
And I’m pretty sure they COULD do more, but this is what I’ve taught them to do, and if I can do it? YOU totally can, bc awesome I am not (always) lol


Comment by HellTygr.

At that age, my kid’s chore chart consisted of putting away her laundry (I still folded), feeding the cats, setting the table, unloading silverware from the dishwasher, and fetching mom a cold beer after she sat down.

Ooops, did I say that last one out loud? Ya, that wasn’t so much a chore, but something that kid offered. No idea what I did right, but I like it. 🙂


Comment by GrandeMocha.

I was teaching my 8 yr old to sort laundry the other day & his dad yelled that he was getting sand on the floor from the beach clothes. Could have killed him.

My son wants a dog. I told him 6 months of cat box duty & he can get one. Two years later, still hasn’t made it a month straight. No dog.


Comment by Lisa.


When you start young, they don’t know from chores. Ella loves helping out and doing things for herself. She LIKES being able to do grown up things – you should see her trying to dress herself.

We’ve hit a patch (at 2+) where it’s hit or miss if she’s going to take her bowl to the kitchen, but we don’t force it, not at this age.

We also use vinegar for cleaning, so she helps scrub. It’s much more to clean the bathroom if she is in there keeping me company and “helping.”

Everyone needs to feel competent and needed, even kids.


Comment by dusty earth mother.

Enjoying this discussion! My 6 year old and almost 5 year old make their beds (with a bit of help), put their dishes in the sink and have to help with cleaning their playroom at night. I also use the “anything that’s left on the floor gets thrown out” and I actually will throw it out, so it mostly works 🙂


Comment by shafeena.

now i have a reason to look forward to ayaan being 3 .. gr8 !!!


Comment by Plano Mom.

Mine 18 and 11, both been doing chores since very small. We don’t pay for chores though, at a certain age, we only paid for chores done WITHOUT REMINDING. They lose out on money, but still have to do the chores before they get TV or other perks.

When the oldest turned 18, and decided to stay home for a year after graduation, we told her that she needed to pick one chore and do it like an adult – without complaining, regardless of who left the mess, and without vocalized resentment of other family members who did nothing. She picked the dishes. It’s been tough, but she’s gained a new appreciation for being an adult.


Comment by Threat Regret | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] should have done is taken a deep cleansing breath and thought of a better consequence for your self-centered and lazy behavior. Mommy will think of that consequence now and also will start speaking in the first […]

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