Why Your Kids Need to Do Chores (& How to Get Them to Help)

Healthy Living

January 26, 2023

Do your kids like cleaning their rooms? 

Yeah, probably not. Frankly, cleaning isn’t exactly thrilling when you’re an adult, either. And while it may be tempting to just clean up after your kids to get it over with quickly – especially if they’re young – getting your kids involved in chores is important. 

For one thing, a tidy space offers potential health benefits, like cutting down on allergy triggers and alleviating symptoms of depression or anxiety. 

You may not be able to convince your kids to cheer when you hand out chore assignments, but you can establish habits that encourage everyone in the family to chip in. Over time, you may fight less to get your kids’ rooms clean – maybe.

Looking for some guidance? Here’s how (and why) to get your kids on board the tidying train.

How a Clean Home Benefits Your Kids

A clean and tidy home looks nice, but that’s not the only reason to keep it organized. Keeping your house in order is also good for your family’s bodies and minds.

Healthier Home

A dirty home can make your family sick. The CDC recommends regularly cleaning surfaces to remove germs. That includes infectious bacteria and viruses. In particular, high-touch areas need to be cleaned frequently. Otherwise, the germs that are lingering on them might end up in people’s mouths and noses.

A messy home may also harbor excess allergens. Dust mites, cockroach droppings and pet dander can dry out throats and stuff up noses.

Mold is an additional health hazard in dirty houses. It often grows in dark or damp areas. Mold spores can cause allergic reactions or serious illnesses. Young children may be particularly susceptible to the effects of mold.

Lower Stress

A cluttered environment can send your stress level soaring. You may know this instinctively from experience, but there’s also scientific research to support your anecdotes. Studies show that cluttered spaces can interrupt your focus. That makes it hard to get tasks done, which can increase your feelings of stress and anxiety.

And when you’re stressed, it affects your kids. You may show them less affection or discipline them more harshly. Parental stress can influence kids’ self-esteem, social interactions and academic performance.

Plus, you may not be the only one who gets stressed by the clutter in your home. It could directly affect your children’s mental well-being, too.

Higher Achievement

If you want your kids to be successful, then having a clean home may be one way to go about it. That’s the finding of a study from the University of Michigan. The study results showed that the cleanliness of a child’s home can make a difference for years to come.

Researchers visited children’s homes over the course of several years. They rated them from dirty to very clean.

Then, 25 years later, they checked in to see how those now-grown children were doing. In general, the ones who had lived in clean houses earned more money than those from dirty homes. They had completed more schooling, too.

The researchers suggested that cleanliness is tied to factors like organization and motivation. When parents demonstrate these characteristics to their children, kids are more likely to succeed.

Why Kids Should Participate in Cleaning

A clean house is a worthwhile goal, but it can be exhausting if you’re the only one who’s making it happen. Fortunately, kids can — and should — play a role in keeping things tidy.

Shared Living Space

You’re not the only one who lives in your home. You’re certainly not the only one contributing to the mess. There’s no reason, then, for you to be the only one who cleans it.

Everyone who lives in the home has a role to play. Not everyone will do the same jobs, but everyone can participate in one way or another. That’s part of being a family.

Lessons in Responsibility

Having chores teaches kids how to be responsible. It gives them practice in taking care of household tasks.

Your kids are going to grow up and move out someday. If they’ve been doing jobs around the house for years, they’ll be more prepared for the challenge. They’ll move out ready to scrub their own toilets, wash their own dishes and keep on top of their own laundry.

Increased Self-esteem

While children might not like the idea of housework at first, once they do it, they may start to feel better about themselves. There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes from seeing a job through from beginning to end.

When you assign chores with a child’s ability level in mind, anyone can be successful in this area. Kids don’t need to be star students or top athletes to succeed at wiping down counters or folding socks. For children who may be feeling down on themselves, age-appropriate chores offer an easy win.

More Family Time

Cleaning together can be a shared family experience. If you make a game of it, it can be an opportunity to make some memories. Your grown children may someday look back fondly on Saturday mornings spent dusting and sweeping with Mom and Dad.

Also, once your kids can do some household jobs independently, you’ll have a little less work on your own plate. That could free up time for some fun family adventures that don’t involve sweeping the kitchen. Perhaps a board game can follow the evening kitchen cleanup. After getting the house in order for the week to come, you could spend Sunday afternoons at the playground.

Getting Kids Involved in Household Chores

If getting your kids involved in cleaning seems easier said than done, then start with these three ideas: 

  • Make it age-appropriate.
  • Have fun with it.
  • Establish cleaning routines.

Make It Age-appropriate

Toddlers and teens can both help around the house. They can’t do the same jobs, though.

Give kids chores that are suitable for their ages, and they’ll be more likely to succeed. Children who feel successful at a task may also be more inclined to do it without complaining or arguing.

To help you decide which jobs are right for your kids, The Spruce offers a breakdown of age-by-age chores for children.

You know your kids, though. If they can do more (or less) than the recommended tasks, start where you know they’re at right now and build from there. Maybe your 6-year-old can’t quite fold properly yet, but she can help you sort laundry into piles. Over time, practice will encourage your kids to take on more responsibilities.

Have Fun with It

Chores are more fun when you turn them into a fun group activity. Consider these ideas:

  • Set a 5-minute timer and challenge yourselves to accomplish as much as possible in that time.
  • Race to see who can put away laundry first.
  • Put on lively music and dance as you clean.
  • Let the kids take turns assigning jobs to one another — and to you!
  • Play a round of The Magic Piece. The Seattle YMCA provides directions for this and other fun cleaning games.

Bonus: The more you move during these energetic cleaning activities, the more exercise your family will get!

Establish Cleaning Routines

No one likes surprise chores. Whenever possible, establish routines so that kids know what to expect.

For instance, work together to wash the dishes and sweep the kitchen floor as soon as dinner is over each night. Ask your kids to strip their beds for the washing machine before heading to school on Fridays. Have them tidy their rooms before Saturday morning cartoons. They’ll soon become accustomed to these household rhythms.

For help getting into a routine, check out the printable cleaning checklists from Mom 4 Real. Your kids may love the satisfaction of checking off each completed task.