You might assume that summer break from school means kids are outside playing and being active, but not only do parents have to worry about summer “brain drain” they have to worry how the time off from school could be harming their kid’s health too. During the summer kids are more likely to be inactive and engage in obesity-related behaviors like watching more TV, eating more sugar and fewer vegetables according to a study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Parenting expert and founder of BusyKid.com Gregg Murset has created guidelines parents can use to give their kids age-appropriate chores at home or around the neighborhood to keep them active and learning life skills like responsibility and money management this summer. Just find your child’s age, browse the chore ideas and then decide what tasks and schedule will work best for your family. Finally, put your plan into action!
For kids under 5 – chore assignments should be based on your child’s size and motor skills. Because the little ones won’t be able to tackle a lot of tasks solo, think of ways they can contribute by helping with a chore you are doing or keep their solo tasks basic. Solo chores could be picking up toys with a fast-paced dance song on the radio that gets everyone up and dancing while they clean. When you are doing household tasks ask the little ones to help by doing things like checking if every trash can in the house is full or not, pointing out where the weeds are in the yard for you. Get those little legs moving and time how long it takes your kids to race from one room or weed to the other!
6-7 – Start asking more of your kids like when you fold the laundry they are in charge of bringing it to each family member’s bedroom. Turn this task into an active by game having kids hop or crab walk back to you instead of just walking! Give weekly or daily assignments that require movement like picking up bedrooms, filling the pet’s water bowls or dusting baseboards.
8-9 – Bigger kids are taller and stronger and can safely reach more surfaces, operate more household equipment and understand when they need to ask for help. You can rely on them to put away their laundry, clean their room, make their bed, clear the dinner table, wipe off lower cabinets and appliance surfaces.
9-10 – Kids in this age group are ready for a little more responsibility and can be put in charge of tasks like feeding the fish, watering indoor plants, setting the table for meals, collecting trash and recycling from around the house so it is ready to take outside.
11-12 – In middle school kids will be fighting for more freedom, so make sure they learn that more freedom means more responsibility. Have them make lunch for the family instead of eating out or pack a lunch for the car if you will be out running errands or spending the day at the pool. They can also dust, vacuum, pick up dog poop or clean the litter box. Non-household tasks can also be assigned as chores like practicing a sport or music outside of normal practice/lessons.
13-14 – By now, kids know they need to contribute to the household and they can tackle more labor intensive work like mowing the lawn, washing windows, cleaning the garage, washing floors, loading the dishwasher. Instead of putting these tasks on your to-do list and never getting to them, assign them to the kids and set expectations on how you expect the jobs to be completed.
15+ – Your kids are rapidly approaching independence so chores should now focus on life skills. Laundry, cooking meals, taking out trash and recycling, household cleaning and other chores that soon will be on their shoulders at college or their first apartment can be taught through practice at home first. Also consider financial chores like assigning a weekly budget for groceries and putting your teen in charge of making purchasing decisions for the family. Earning rights to the family car can also mean washing, vacuuming and waxing.
All Ages – Reward your kid’s efforts with cash. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money and you could even end up saving a few pennies if you give your kids chores that allow you to cancel lawn care or household cleaning services. Help your kids learn how to count what they have earned, budget it for items they want to purchase, or teach them about saving and investing with it by using an app like BusyKid.