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seacatnp 05-11-2014 03:07 PM

We have two daughters - 13 and 14.  

We have not been good at enforcing them doing chores.  

How many chores do you suggest for kids of this age?  how time consuming?  they are so busy with school, sports, etc. it's hard to think of asking them to do very much, but i think chores are important for many reasons - learning responsibility, how to have a nice calming space, etc.  

how do you follow up with kids who aren't following through on agreed upon chores?




whatsnextmom 05-11-2014 04:33 PM

In our family, I still do a bulk of the routine chores because I only work part-time (and largely from my home office.) DH works full-time. DD 17 has a good 60 hours of school/activities/work and DS 13 has about 40-45 hours. It just makes sense that I do a larger share in the home since I'm there with no infants/toddlers to chase and at least one teenager who can drive herself around. Once a month we do a deep clean and everyone pitches in for that. I keep things up in between and do most of the cooking and laundry. The kids handle the dishes together most nights (though I'm good at cleaning during cooking and so it's usually just putting the cups, utensils and plates into the dish washer.) They each make their own breakfast and pack their own lunches.


DD 17 cleans 2 bathrooms once a week. She feeds the dog dinner and bathes her a couple times a month. She cleans out the car and washes it twice a month. She cleans her room and runs errands. She cooks occasionally but frankly, she hates it. She's more the one that bakes muffins and goodies here and there.


DS 13 handles the trash and recycling weekly. He feeds the dog breakfast and cooks for the family once a week. He does car maintenance with my DH once a month (oil changes, break pads, check and rotate tires when needed, ect.) He also does a lot of the yard work (outside the spring when we have to do a major fire brake weeding as a family.) He keeps his room clean. 


I sometimes have to remind them but it's never a fight. They know how to do any chore in the house. Both can do basic car maintenance and yard work. They can iron and sew and do their own laundry if needed. I don't worry about them in the skills department. I feel like we've struck a good balance in our household. If I worked full-time, things might need to be different.

skreader 05-11-2014 10:51 PM

DD - just turned 18 & DS - just turned 16.  We live in a flat that about 1,000 square feet (maybe a bit less)


Each does the dishes 3 times per week (DH & I do the 1 day they do not)

Each does recycling & trash 3 time per week (DH & I do the 1 day they do not)

They each clean one of the bathrooms once a week (alternate the big bathroom & the small).

           - DD will go off to college in August so DH & I will have to take up more bathroom & dish-washing duty then.


They clean their own rooms

They change their own bed linens about twice a month


They are supposed to alternate the vacuuming & dusting in the living room - but DH or I end up doing most of it - mostly because he is impatient to wait for them to come home from school and do it.


DH does most of the laundry (washing & hanging up) kids or me take it down. We all fold in the evening (sitting in front of the evening news, usually)


DH does most of the cooking on the weekdays  & the marketing - sometimes kids will be asked to pick something up coming home


It's all on the job chart (posted in the kitchen) which I revise about every 6 months  w/ their in-put (for example, if sports practices move from one day of the week to another). Like WhatsNextMom - very little arguing & now they are pretty old, seldom need to remind.

pumabearclan 05-12-2014 08:28 AM

I admit that I did not assign any chores, ever, and still do not expect my child, now an adult, to assume household chores when staying here. However, now she does voluntarily; she also has her own household and manages it very well. It felt like a battle I did not want to fight, an aspect of my relationship with my daughter that I didn't want. I knew this would be a troublesome area and I had to assess how serious this issues was for me; I decided it wasn't serious enough. I did teach and model, quite strictly at times, a motto of personal responsibility in cohabitating - pick up after yourself, hold the door for others, take only a fair portion (of space, food, bathroom time, etc). When I was in HS I knew a woman from the middle east and she said that in her family and their friends, they taught their children to respect and obey their elders and understand family obligations, so as children they didn't have chores but when they "came of age" they were expected to assume full responsibility for their own households and also increasingly the care of their elders. I think that made a lot of sense and I did and do use a softer, modernized version of that idea.

zebra15 05-12-2014 10:20 AM

DS13 is homeschooled so he is home by nature.  He swiffers the floors as needed, does his own laundry, does the towels (mainly because he is on swimteam and there is a daily load) and he does the dishes- loading and unloading the dishwasher.   I vacuum and dust the living room and do my laundry.   We live in a condo rental so there is no outside work.  I am not a 'fix it' person so the car goes to the shop and the landlord get called for repairs.

moominmamma 05-12-2014 11:17 AM

14 Attachment(s)

I don't assign chores, because I don't think that adults typically have chores assigned to them, and I want my kids to grow up knowing how to be responsible people who help without needing extrinsic structure or coercion. Responsibility to me is a lot more than doing what is assigned and expected by others. My kids get experience doing what is expected when they participate in sports, partake in volunteerism or paid work, meet deadlines at school or do their music practicing. But responsibility also involves knowing when and how to step in and contribute to the well-being of your household and community without being made to do so.


In my family my 11-year-old and I do a lot of the things that would be considered housework, since she doesn't go to school and we're the two with the most discretionary time at home. My 15- and 17-year-olds have a lot on their plates in terms of school and volunteer work, and dh works more-than-full-time. When the equation of outside responsibilities changes, if, say, I'm away at a course for a week, or the teens have a long weekend, or my 11-year-old is busy with dance performances, the housework equation changes too. In the case of my 15-year-old, she does this without a nudge. My 17-year-old tends to be fairly oblivious to his surroundings, and often needs a nudge to notice what needs doing, but once he notices he gets on it. Our operating principle for fairness is "to each according to his needs, from each according to his means." Needs and means shift, and so does the onus of housework.


If it seems that on balance someone isn't contributing appropriately, we discuss it at a family meeting and talk about ways to address the balance: more information, some sort of commitment, sharing things out in a different way, changing the way a task is accomplished... brainstorming and problem-solving together. 


I can't think of many household jobs that my kids have never done. My 11-year-old doesn't use the tractor yet for ploughing snow, but that's probably about it. That's not to say they're constantly slaving away here, just that they have wide-ranging competence and experience that has accrued over the years, and are willing to pitch in when it makes sense for them to be the ones to do so. 



lauren 05-12-2014 06:35 PM

I've always had my kids do their chores before they were allowed to do either screen time or other things they wanted to get to. Our chores are reasonable and not very time consuming. By making them prerequisites for the other things THEY want to do, it eliminates the hassle of arguing. If the 9 year old want to watch TV she just goes and does her chores first and then she can have some TV time. 

meowmix 05-13-2014 04:21 AM

My kids are a bit younger.  They have kind of "unofficial" chores.  Which basically means they have nothing regular but I ask them to do stuff sometimes  Things I usually ask them to do include emptying the trash cans (bathroom trashcans, room cans, etc), cleaning their rooms, putting away their laundry.  Sometimes I request they do their laundry because I won't have time that week.  Sometimes I ask they do poop patrol in the backyard, but I pay them for that because that job is pretty gross.  I also may ask they clean their bathroom, vacuum their rooms, walk the dog or empty the dishwasher.  

Pretty much every day my son empties the kitchen trash, DD1 feeds the dogs and DD2 feeds the cats. 


When I am really needing the chores done, I pay them for them. They are good about helping, but I almost always have to ask (sometimes twice).  At almost 13, my son voluntarily keeps his room pretty neat.  I hardly ever ask him to clean his room.  Both my son and my daughter can cook if needed, but I have hardly ever needed them to do that.

meowmix 05-13-2014 04:26 AM

Originally Posted by seacatnp View Post


how do you follow up with kids who aren't following through on agreed upon chores?


I nag them repeatedly until they do it.  :W  LOL.

USAmma 05-13-2014 10:10 PM

I have two lists of chores posted in the kitchen. They rotate so that each of my girls has to do one of the lists all week. They are mostly things related to life skills and independence (washing their sheets, cleaning their bathroom), but also helping out with dishes and pets.


If they do them I pat them on the back for a job well done.


If my oldest doesn't do them I turn off her cell phone service (I can do that from the computer) and she usually will respond quickly and do the chores. Sometimes I will not drive her where she wants to go, reminding her that her chores were not done. I was strict about this at first and now she mostly does them to avoid the consequences. 

They are expected to complete the once a week chores by Saturday evening. They need to do the daily chores after having a snack after school.

skreader 05-13-2014 10:35 PM

Hi Miranda,


I respectfully disagree with the idea that adults do not typically have chores assigned. When I lived with other adults as flat-mates, we found that it was very useful to have have chores listed (assigned): whose turn to put out the rubbish & recycling for the household, the rotation of cleaning the shared toilet, washing the kitchen floor, vacuuming, etc.  My experience when I was a member of various cooperatives and visited w/ friends who lived in cooperative or communal situations, it was very important to list who was responsible for what. Otherwise there is a greater potential for chaos, mess, & hard feelings.  Some things people volunteer for; other jobs that are less popular need to be fairly shared.


In my life as a worker, both in my paid work and as a volunteer, having schedules, shifts, and duties clearly marked helps to make things run smoothly. I think in group work, some sort of transparent structure can help prevent some people from being over-burdened and to make sure all things are covered.


In our family (adults & teens are listed on the job chart), we find that knowing who will do the dishes on what night; who is responsible for putting away the clean dishes on which day of the week helps to keep the place orderly and reduces arguing about who is doing what, and when. We revise the list every 6 months or so and also (of course) make exceptions and changes when people are unusually busy, are ill, etc.



Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

I don't assign chores, because I don't think that adults typically have chores assigned to them, and I want my kids to grow up knowing how to be responsible people who help without needing extrinsic structure or coercion.


kathymomof3 05-14-2014 05:04 AM

With my 3 teens I have never assigned them chores and in our house we all just chip in when something needs to be done.  They are responsible for their own room however if I am cleaning or doing wash I may ask them to do such and such and many times they will just do it on their own without being asked.  If one of the girls is doing wash they often times ask the others if they need anything washed.  I'm a single mom so I think my girls realize it can be tough on me and they want to do their part around here.

moominmamma 05-14-2014 08:57 AM

14 Attachment(s)
Originally Posted by skreader View Post
In my life as a worker, both in my paid work and as a volunteer, having schedules, shifts, and duties clearly marked helps to make things run smoothly. 


I think this is a different situation. And, as I wrote, it's one my kids get experience with:


Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

My kids get experience doing what is expected when they participate in sports, partake in volunteerism or paid work, meet deadlines at school or do their music practicing. 


I just don't see a family as running like a corporation or educational institution. Obviously all families are different, but mine has never run that way, and in my room-mate situations we always arrived at equitable divisions of labour through nothing more rigid than occasional discussions. I think that learning to pitch in without a schedule and assigned duties demands more perceptiveness, more empathy and more flexibility, and I prefer to encourage that style of helping out in my kids. 


To each his own, obviously. :)



pumabearclan 05-14-2014 10:34 AM

How to foster voluntary cooperation in our kids seems to be the goal, whether it's according to a schedule and whether it's enforced (at first). From reading the responses here, I would suggest that a lot of it has to do with the kids' and parents' personalities and the way family and household time tends to be. I recall now that I did "hire" my daughter to help for one-time chores, since another momma mentioned paying for chores. I think that many approaches can work if they fit the personalities of all involved. Also the kids' attitudes can change over time, especially in teenage years. I wanted home to be a refuge and not scheduled like the outside world, as Miranda says, but realized that self-discipline and cooperation have to be attained in order to be a successful adult, as skreader says - I chose not to use household help to teach that, however. So from reading these posts I think that personality has a lot to do with how important and successful the issue of kids' chores will be.

skreader 05-14-2014 11:33 PM


To each his own, obviously. :)




Yes, my kids (like  DH and me) are very structure & process oriented. We like making our lists and and schedules and have everything laid out & planned (at least in theory). Of course, we are aware that "people plan, & G-d laughs"; and we change & swap & pitch-in as necessary;  but having things laid out & written down is a way for us to create calm & joy in an often busy and chaotic world. 


We live in a city of 7+ million people, my kids go to a high-school with almost 2,000 kids with a fortnightly schedule (is it week A or week B?) and they have to take buses and trains to get where they need to be on-time ( work, after-school activities, etc.).   For our family, the chore-charts & schedules helped  (and continue to help) teach our kids what is expected and serve as a reminder if they forget. Having things written down helps them to plan & self-regulate and from my kids certainly do not lack empathy or perceptiveness or flexibility. 

mumm 05-21-2014 05:50 PM

The amount of chores my kids have changes based on what is going on in their lives.  This winter my 10 year old was playing 3 sports and didn't do any chores for about 3 months!  When the seasons change, their chores change based on how it all balances out.  


As for assigning chores, I don't.  I give them multiple things to choose from.  I hate cutting the grass or dealing with trash in the summer (maggots!).  So I don't.  My partner does it.  She hates dealing with trash in the winter (too cold and windy at the dump), so I do it.   This way everyone is helping, the work is getting done, but nobody is doing something they really detest.


As for doing chores well, in a timely fashion and with a smile on their face?  yeah... that isn't really happening!!:wink

mumm 05-21-2014 05:54 PM

Originally Posted by Kathymomof3 View Post

 I'm a single mom so I think my girls realize it can be tough on me and they want to do their part around here.

How nice to have kids with empathy!  Good work on that.   My kids sometimes pitch in without asking but usually just "to keep mom from being angry."  


My older kids have developed a game where they sit on the couch with a book and tell the younger kids they are being trained as helper dogs and then break down every task into simple steps and have them do it.  "Okay.  Get the book from under the table and put it on the library book shelf.  Good doggie.  Now get the sock.  Turn it inside right.  Now bring it to the laundry.  What a good puppy you are.  Come for a scratch.  Okay, now go......"   They can really stick with it a long time!

stormborn 05-23-2014 01:05 PM

That's a great idea, Mumm! I think my 12 & 5 yr olds would get into that.

Shainab86 03-31-2015 06:22 PM

Make the chores reasonable when considering their homework/sports/other activities load each day. A chore a day isn't the end of the world and a very good way to promote responsibility, cleanliness, etc. I was raised having to do 1 chore a day (take out the trash, empty and fill dishwasher, fold laundry in dryer, something like that) on heavy days, and 2 chores a day on lighter days where I didn't have sports or any other big responsibility. I was allowed to either go outside and play or watch 30 minutes of tv contingent on me completing my chore. No completion meant no free time and it was followed through! In no time it just became a part of my life, didn't bug me and really helped me with my life as an adult.

alicetailor 04-10-2015 12:01 AM

You have to develop their interest in the daily chores. For instance, you can give them intriguing tasks like watering plants or cooking cakes, muffins etc.

moominmamma 04-10-2015 07:28 AM

14 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by alicetailor (Post 18664298)
You have to develop their interest in the daily chores. For instance, you can give them intriguing tasks like watering plants or cooking cakes, muffins etc.

LOL, I'm not sure that most teens would find watering plants to be intriguing. However I agree that if you can get children intrigued by things like that when they're much younger you will have better luck building the habits and expectations of helping out around the house that will stick as they get older. By the time my kids are tweens and teens their helping out is more along the line of splitting firewood, yardwork, cooking dinners, baking bread, managing the household laundry, that sort of thing.


MommyOnTheRoad 04-10-2015 09:19 PM

I'd probably say keep their rooms clean and then dinner dishes ;)

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