Learning Chores and Decluttering for Kids

Celebrate the end of the school year and take advantage of this transition period to purge unwanted items, donate old toys, and make your child’s bedroom a welcoming uncluttered environment this summer. Talk to your child and explain that as a reward for completing a successful school year, you would like to help make their bedroom a really nice place for them this summer.

Work together with your child

Take a couple of hours on a free day to tackle this decluttering project with your child. You will need a trash bag, a recycling bag and a donations bag. Start with the most cluttered area of your child’s room and work your way around. Open every drawer and clean out under the bed. What you encounter will fall into three categories: Things to put away; donations; trash and recycling.

Outgrown or unwanted clothes can go into the donations bag. Make an action item on your calendar noting what clothing you will need to purchase for the next school year. If your child is going to a sleepaway camp this summer, you will want to set aside some seasoned but comfortable clothes. Put camp clothes aside and discuss with your child what camp will be like. Children may become anxious about being away from their family and talking about it well ahead of time may ease this stress.

Put away toys in their designated areas. Your child may rediscover toys they hadn’t touched in a long time. They may also surprise you by what they donate or recycle. They may not be at all attached to things you thought were very meaningful to them or vice versa. Store keepsakes in a plastic bin in the closet or under the bed. If you haven’t emptied the school backpack this is a great opportunity to do so.

Take the donations to your local charity together. Your child will feel good about their toys getting a new home. Celebrate your child by acknowledging their work over the past school year and while decluttering their bedroom. Spend some time with your child in their tidy bedroom. Reflect on how calm the space feels. Enjoy the lovely space with your child.

Learning to do chores

Summer is also a great time to introduce chores to your child’s routine. To start, have your child take on one new responsibility. Talk with your children about expectations of when and how each chore should be done. Post the chore list where everyone has easy access to it. Make it a habit that chores are done before free time.

Why should children have to do chores?

As families, we share our home and we share the responsibilities of the house. Chores help children learn mastery of life skills to be confident, independent and resilient adults. Tell your child you are counting on them to do their part, but also acknowledge their work as they complete chores.

Everyone needs to know how to do laundry

Laundry is a great chore for tweens and teens. To teach them, have your child bring their dirty laundry to the laundry area and show them how to sort the clothes into darks and whites. Start a load of laundry together. Teach them how to transfer the clothes into the dryer. Work with them taking the clothes out of the dryer and putting the laundry away where it belongs.

Establish a routine of doing chores each week. Plan for weeks when you have trips or camps. Mark chore days on a calendar. Praise your children for remembering their responsibility and for good effort. Like anything, new responsibilities may take a while to stick. Stick with it and hopefully by the end of summer it will be as second nature as brushing their teeth.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a wonderful article on this very subject: Why Children Need Chores


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