Jaynehowarth’s Weblog

Journalist and writer

Should children help with the household chores?

with 21 comments

It’s something I tell myself each time I plough through my children’s bedrooms: they should be doing this themselves.

As I wade through the books, cuddly toys and a plethora of assorted Gormitis, Transformers and Star Wars statues (son, eight) or curling tongs, nail varnish and clothes (daughter, ten), I think back to my childhood.

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Unlike many of my peers, I was never forced to carry out household chores. I had friends who had to do the washing-up from nine years old; others had to tidy their rooms to get their 10p a week pocket money (yes, I am showing my age).

But I do vividly recall being asked to help clean the house on occasion – whether this was for pocket money, I have no idea. I remember because my brother thought there was something medically wrong with him after I shoved so much bleach down the toilet, it foamed to the brim when he flushed it (it was summer. He had hayfever, hence absolutely no sense of smell).

I don’t want much from my children when it comes to helping out: I just want them to make their beds – I  don’t think throwing a duvet over is too taxing – and have them tidy their rooms once in a while. Other friends’ children manage it.

Should I pay them for doing it? I’m not so sure I  agree that children should gain financially from doing something they ought to be doing anyway. It sets a bad precedent.

Do you ask your children to do chores? At what age did you get them to do their fair share? Was it picking up their teddies at two? Getting them to fold their clothes and place them in a drawer at four?

Or do you think that as a parent it is your sole responsibility to keep everywhere spick and span?

I’d really love to know your opinion.


Written by CommonPeople

February 4, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Jayne's posts

Tagged with , , ,

21 Responses

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  1. I am not a Mum, but I remember as a child being asked to help out from a fairly young age, just little things to begin with but then more as I got older. From the age of about 14 I would do my own washing etc.

    I complained at the time but now am so glad that was the way I was brought up – when I moved to uni I lived with 5 other girls, a few of which had been brought up like me, a few hadn’t and my word you could tell! The mess that those who had never cleaned left behind was unbelievable, they just expected the magic cleaning fairy (aka parent) to come and do it!

    Don’t get me wrong, children should remain children as long as possible, but they have to grow up at some point and it’s a parents job to teach them how to do that.


    February 4, 2010 at 3:35 pm

  2. I did a lot of housework as a child, did the shopping etc. I think it was good for me. My kids do a fair bit of housework, mainly tidying their room but also cleaning fishtank, washing floor etc. But I do pay them $3 if they do it all (but that is also for doing homework, practiciing piano)


    February 4, 2010 at 3:43 pm

  3. Indeed they should help out around the house. All mine are expected to help out with the household tasks without complaint, (but they do), from feeding the ducks and chickens and cleaning them out to sorting the recycling. Their bedrooms are their domain though so I am less bothered about the state of them although when they get too messy they are told to tidy them up. They live in the house so they have to contribute to the environment we share.

    Simon Apps

    February 4, 2010 at 4:14 pm

  4. Thanks, Michelle, Emma and Simon for commenting.

    It’s funny – I didn’t have time to finish off tidying my daughter’s bedroom properly after changing the bedding (teddies etc still on the floor) and she just went ballistic. She’d tidied her room at the weekend (so she could have a TV in there for half an hour) and she claimed I’d left it as a “right tip”.

    Heehee – now she knows how I feel most of the time!


    February 4, 2010 at 5:58 pm

  5. My son is a little young for chores as such at 3 1/2 but he does know that he has to put away a toy before he can get another one out. He makes a stab at setting the table and wiping it after dinner, although both these tasks need to be re-done by me.

    I will start to introduce small tasks as when he can manage them, I want to be able to send him out in the big wide world being able to cook, clean and iron. He will be a lovely husband for some lucky girl.

    I was always expected to help with the chores, certainly by the time I was 14 I did most of the ironing and regularly made the Sunday dinner whilst my Mum worked. I think by the time I was 16 I could hang wallpaper.

    Very Bored in Catalunya

    February 4, 2010 at 6:40 pm

  6. Very Bored in Catalunya: I still can’t hang wallpaper!

    When my daughter was 2 I asked her to put some stuff away and got quite exercised about it (my son was only a tiny baby – I was probably stressed from lack of sleep!). As she shoved her teddies into a box (a task she did at nursery anyway), she harumphed and declared: “I am ONLY TWO.”

    I thought – not unreasonably – that if she did it at nursery, she could jolly well do it at home.

    It’s great that your little boy boy is trying to help by laying the table.


    February 4, 2010 at 7:14 pm

  7. Yes I think they should – although I’m not sure about giving them money in return. I’m still conflicted about that. Maybe if it was over and above what I’d asked. I have a son – 10 – who will help pair socks, makes his own bed, recycles, helps set the breakfast table and puts things away. I would hate it if he grew up to be one of those men who didn’t know how to work a washing machine because their mums have done everything for them. My daughter is two. She untidies mostly but she likes tidy up time at playgroup. Loved your daughter’s indignant ‘I am only two.’ Classic.


    February 4, 2010 at 8:35 pm

  8. I have already,on Twitter told you that my children help in the house.We are a large family, and coming from a large family it seems ‘NORMAL’ to me that they do.I dont give pocket money for these chores as its family life.We play together, eat together and live together.mMy children have never complained about putting a load of washing on or cleaning their rooms.Beds are made by them (in a fashion) but the effort is there.


    February 4, 2010 at 9:41 pm

  9. My girls are 5,4,2(nearly) and I expect all of them to do some sort of chores- mostly just looking after themselves- clearing dishes (even the 2 yo), putting laundry in for washing, helping hang out the washing, tidy their room, hang up school clothes… I’m not their slave and they are not mine, really just trying to teach them personal responsibility…in tiny bites


    February 4, 2010 at 10:31 pm

  10. I think I’ve got to make sure that I am consistent in my approach. Like when they were trying new foods as babies, I was persistent: repeatedly giving it to them until they got used to it.

    I did ask them to make their beds, which they did for a few days before it tailed off.

    Now I’ve read all your comments (+ thanks to Marcy, Clair, Alison, CJ and BiB, too) I will keep on at them until it is second nature.

    Like Alison said: it’d be awful to rear a son (or daughter, come to think of it) who can’t do basic chores/household tasks.


    February 5, 2010 at 7:40 am

  11. I think it’s a good idea to introduce them to chores at an early age, just tidying up and stuff. I tidy Amy’s room most of the time but she often hoovers for me, just a small space before H20 comes on! But little jobs won’t kill them, it can only prepare them for their life ahead. As for paying them to do it, well no, I don’t think so. I don’t get paid to hoover, wash, cook, clean etc. Amy does get pocket money but it’s mainly for good behaviour. She doesn’t get it every week.

    CJ xx

    Crystal Jigsaw

    February 5, 2010 at 10:53 am

  12. Definitely they should help. Sometimes it is a bit of a battle though, but it won’t be any less of a battle when they get older, and I hate the thought of sending children out into the world who have no idea how to look after themselves.

    Brit In Bosnia

    February 5, 2010 at 1:58 pm

  13. It is perfectly reasonable to expect them to tidy their rooms, take the plates form the table after a meal, load the dish washer. As for money we I tr not to introduce payement into family relationships – don’t want the kids expecting to get paid every time a relative asks them to do something they don’t want to.

    Nick Booth

    February 6, 2010 at 9:38 am

  14. Thanks for commenting, Nick. I agree about payments – it’s then thin end of the wedge and then they’ll expect payment for all sorts of things. I have been known to offer a financial incentive to help me clean the car, though (50p for doing the wheels! *cheapskate*) because it isn’t their responsibility. But I stopped doing it when I realised they’d probably ask for money for other stuff.


    February 6, 2010 at 9:45 am

  15. As I’ve said before I’m not a parent, but as a child my sister & I had to do a few chores abou the house- nothing to hard- and that wasn’t connected to my pocket money, and that’s how it should be. Kids need to learn that no-one will be there to do everything for them when they grow up, and that we all have to do some tiresome things because of that.


    February 6, 2010 at 10:00 am

  16. My son is 10 and is expected to help around the house, he has chores that are his alone, I.e meal times, I cook, he has to clear the plates and then my partner washes. His bedroom is his responsibility to tidy, I hoover and dust in there but his toys figures lego etc all have a home and if he gets them out then the expectation is he puts them away. He doesn’t get ‘paid’ for these.

    Then there are the one off things that aren’t his responsibility but I expect help with when asked, recycling, fetching, carrying etc, he doesn’t get remuneration for these either. But if he wants to earn some extra money we do let him negotiate a fee with us for big tasks such as car washing.

    I hope that by expecting him to do certain things as standard, but then giving him scope to work for a reward were teaching him that the cleaning fairy doesn’t exist and he has to tidy for himself but also showing him you don’t get something for nothing.


    February 6, 2010 at 11:32 am

  17. I have a 19 year old daughter who has worked about a total of 5 months in 2 years..She claims job seekers and isnt taking looking for a job her main priority..After a year of supporting her and her being told if she not activley looking for a job she had to start paying us 15 pound from her jsa..She does nothing in the house only uses it like a hotel stayin out till all hours and stayin in bed till 11 oclock. Do you think Im right in also asking her to help with chores in the house as my 14 year old is made to do chores.If so what amount of chores do you think she should be doing??? she is now paying 15 pound and doesnt like tht but like I have said if she lived in her own home she would have nothing left to spend on her self after paying for house.


    January 13, 2011 at 11:52 am

  18. She does do her own washing and cook her own meals but then tht is a different story I refused to do those chores for her after her rude physical and emotional abuse.


    January 13, 2011 at 11:54 am

  19. Children should help in the house, parents provide everything for them so nothing is wrong with them wash dishes, pick up clothes and tidy dinning area in the house when the reach a certain age. It is parent responsibility to teach our children to be equal member of society. Helping out in the home is the basis fundamental


    July 26, 2011 at 5:29 pm

  20. i also think they will never learn how to do it


    March 26, 2012 at 8:47 am

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