If They Can Do It …

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I read a recent article in Boston Magazine on Parenting Spoiled Kids and how to unspoil your child…fast. One psychologist’s answer? Bring back the chores. Can I get an “Amen” sisters?!  It made me think about the chores we have in our house and the topic of getting kids to help out around the house.

getting kids to help out around the house

I took a parenting seminar last year based on the parenting with Love and Logic philosophy and one of the phrases in a video clip that stayed with me was on the topic of chores.  The founder was speaking about what it means to be a part of a family, and how every member should be accountable for pitching in to help in all the household tasks.

He said, “If they CAN do it, they SHOULD do it.”

Meaning, if a child is old enough and capable enough to help with a household chore – they should. It was like this lightbulb moment of for me. My girls are 6 and 9 and old enough and capable enough to do quite a lot.

Which brought me to the chore I wanted to tackle first. The dreaded laundry. 

I don’t know a mom out there that doesn’t hate the mountains of laundry that accumulates with a family. Just when one mountain is folded and ready to be put away, another load is going in. It’s endless!

And I was over it. They were old enough to do their own laundry.

Disclaimer: My kids do not own expensive clothes, so there are no pieces of clothing I would be devastated by if lost to a laundry mishap.

We had a little training session on how to do laundry and I walked them through the steps. My oldest can do the entire process.  Little one is still a little young for the washing and drying part, but she is can fold and put it away.

We picked a day of the week they wanted and that became laundry day.  They drag out their hampers and do their own laundry!  Then they sit and fold it together. Yes, it takes a long time, but they CAN do it.

Another disclaimer, I do not care how things are folded.

You have got to give up the control of it being done right.

If it gets done and back into their drawers or on hangers, that is all I care about.

And it is awesome.

The best part?

My oldest’s weekly laundry volume has been cut in half. She now knows if she wears an item of clothing for a short time and it is clean, she will put it back in her closet instead of the hamper.  I mean, the difference in laundry volume was shocking. But it makes sense right, if someone does it all for you, isn’t it easier to just throw it in a hamper?

And recently, I was going to get a load started for her while she helped me with something else, and started to separate the lights and darks, and she said.

“Mom, that’s not the way I do it.”

It’s faster to just wash the lights and darks together in one load, then I don’t have to wait. Hmmmm….I didn’t realize she had been doing this and newsflash….no colors bled and there have been no laundry mishaps to date.  Maybe mom learned something?

Overall, it has been really good for them (and me!)  My oldest has a sense of responsibility and accomplishment – I can see it in her face. Little one still whines and complains, but that is life. Sometimes I wish I could wine (oops, whine) and complain too while folding laundry.

But no one would care, I still have to do it.

Do your kids do chores? How do you handle chores in your house?


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  1. 1
    Christy says:

    Love this! I was just thinking I should have my oldest be “in charge” of her own laundry — because she is 7.5 and more than capable (and loves being in charge of things). Both kids are really good at picking up their rooms and playroom, and helping set and clear the table (okay, my youngest whines a LOT about it, but still does it), and my hubby and I were just discussing about expanding their chore responsibilities. I love this – if they CAN do it, they SHOULD do it. And now I just have to give up control on how things are folded and hung 😉

  2. 2
    Susanne says:

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! My middle has been ASKING for chores, and I haven’t been organized enough to give her any yet. Laundry is perfect because it is my most dreaded. Question for you- do you give them a dollar or two at the end of the week or is that going against the Love + Logic of it all?

  3. 3
    jen says:

    We don’t do allowances really – the Love + Logic philosophy would say that as members of a family we are all on the same team working together to help each other out. If something is “above and beyond” a typical household responsibility, that’s when they would give $$ as a result. Does that make sense?

  4. 4
    catcromar says:

    I just did a blog post about how I handle chores with five kids under eight. I do pay them, but not a ton. One thing I love about our system is that I only rotate the chores monthly, so I (and the kids) can remember who is supposed to be doing what.

    And, amen to not caring how laundry is folded!

    See the post here:

    • 5
      jen says:

      Love it! Thanks for sharing!

  5. 6
    Suzanne Holt says:

    I have done some posts on this very subject – we definitely expect too little of kids too often. Of course, one thing we cannot expect is perfection. But we can expect effort – definitely a fine line! Pinning your article to my “Teaching Children Responsibility” board.

    • 7
      jen says:

      Thank you Suzanne! I agree – perfection is not the goal – effort is what it is all about! Thanks so much for the comment.

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