There is a crisp in the air and the sun is setting earlier every day, sure signs that fall has arrived. And it brought with it a whole new season of household tasks that need to be tackled. Families are busier than ever with school, homework, sports and other extracurricular activities, which can make fitting chores in a challenge. Overtired kids might be more likely to whine and complain about doing the dishes or raking leaves, but stay strong mama because these tasks are not only teaching them life skills they will want to know one day, you can turn these jobs into a valuable lesson in money management and personal finance.
The key is to treat your kids' chores as if they are a real job. You can still make it fun, but chores are supposed to teach responsibility, accountability, time management and honesty. Next, keeping a real job in mind, I recommend you open your wallet on a weekly basis and pay an allowance. This simulation could be the only money management practice your children will ever receive since most schools don't teach the subject. Here they can learn the value of saving, or how to budget. Identify a dollar amount you think is fair for your child to earn per week and then create a list of chores that must be completed to earn that money.
You can also make it simple by using apps to help keep track of who is responsible for what chores and when the payments are due. Bonus: Kids can learn to save, invest and donate directly through the app as well!
Here are age-appropriate chores for kids of all ages:
Chores for 2-year-olds:
1. Pick up toys and donate
This helps teach kids at a young age to pick up after themselves and is an easy first chore to start with. Designate a basket in the area that your child plays in and model the act of picking up a toy and placing it in there for them to follow. The start of a new season is also the perfect time to donate old baby toys or mechanical swings your child has outgrown.
2. Wash produce
Fall is a popular time to go to apple orchards, pumpkin patches and farmers markets. Have kids help pick out fresh produce and wash it at home. This chore can get their feet wet in kitchen/cooking chores as well as teaching them a step in preparing their own meals or snacks.
3. Be an extra pair of hands
At this age, kids like to touch and hold things. Have children hold the decorations while you are putting them up. And most people swap out their summer wardrobe for fall items stored away in bins, which can result in a ton of wash. Have kids help separate the items into colors, darks and lights.
Chores for 3 + 4-year-olds:
1. Wipe it down
Fall cleaning tends to be as hardcore as spring cleaning, which involves a lot of wiping and dusting, especially those forgotten areas. Give kids an old rag and have them wipe down the areas that can be hard for you to reach including baseboards and lower shelves.
2. Holiday grocery shopping
Grocery lists seem to double around the holidays. Ask kids to grab items off of the shelves they can reach and when you get home, have them identify the correct place each item goes. This will get them prepared to do the whole process themselves in a few years.
3. Make the bed + prepare for guests
Since they have been learning to pick up after themselves, it is only fitting that they start trying to make their bed in the morning to help prepare the house for guests. If your child doesn't sleep in a crib any longer, have them straighten the pillows and stuffed animals and pull the covers up. You can also ask them to make sure all of their toys are picked up and, in the basket, or area that you designated their toys go.
Chores for 5 + 6-year-olds:
1. Take care of pets
Have kids scoop their pet's food in the morning before they eat breakfast and at night before dinner. Ask them to monitor the water bowl and fill it if they are able to or alert a parent when it needs to be refilled. These chores help teach responsibility as well as getting kids used to a schedule of doing chores at a specific time.
Have kids sort their clothing and identify what items would be a fit for fall weather and which ones can either be donated or put in a storage bin for next summer. This teaches kids organization skills and helps keep clothing from being strewn across the room.
3. Make fall to-do lists
Kids tend to be learning how to write at this age to prepare them for kindergarten. Have them help make the grocery or fall to-do list to help the family stay organized and not miss anything.
Chores for 7-9-year-olds:
1. Involved in dinner prep and clean up
Have kids set the table, assist in cooking dinner and clean up afterwards including dishes. Ask them to look up fall inspired dishes for dinner and make a list of the ingredients needed as well as locating the items in the store.
2. Fall yard work
There are numerous fall yard chores that need to get done. Make it a family affair one Saturday and give everyone a task to help teach teamwork skills. At this age have them attend to simple tasks like watering the planets, pulling weeds and wiping down play equipment and lawn furniture.
3. Room cleaning
Have your children pick up their toys, put their clothes away andwipe down any furniture.. Getting kids in the habit of doing all of these tasks in their room by themselves at a young age can save a lot of hassle later in their teen years.
Chores for 10-12-year-olds:
1. Budget for the holidays
Fall can feel like a money pit between buying costumes and candy for Halloween and food for Thanksgiving. Teach kids about budgeting by having them make the grocery list of the items that are needed and pick them up in the store, but they have to stay at or under the amount you gave them.
2. Wash the car
This season, cars seem to be a magnet for leaves, sap and nature's other gifts. Instead of paying for a car wash or doing it all yourself have kids lend a hand with the process. They will be asking to use it soon enough so why not start teaching them an aspect of taking care of one.
3. Set knobs and dials
Give kids more responsibility when it comes to doing the load of sweaters and jeans that need to be washed by having them set the dials to the correct setting and pressing the buttons. The same goes for the dishwasher and starting the oven.
Chores for teenagers:
1. Mow the lawn and rake the leaves
Teens can mow the lawn and rake the leaves as well as offer their services to neighbors for a small price. This teaches them work ethic that will pay off later in life and helps them earn and save some extra cash.
2. Help pay bills
Since financial literacy is rarely taught in school, tech kids at home by making a list of all the bills that need to be paid and the dates they are due. Show them the process of how to pay them, whether it is online or writing a check, and how you budget for the expense. This also helps parents stay organized and on top of things during the hectic holiday season.
3. Plan parties or dinners
With the holidays coming up, turn over the reins to your teenager. Have them create the menu for dinner parties, pick up the groceries as well as clean, prep and decorate the house for the event.