top of page

Chores and Expectations

Get that sweat shop up and running

kids stacking dishwasher

If you were ever part of a so called ‘regular family’ then you probably experienced that the daily routines of maintaining a clean, organised, functional household was easier because there were two adults sharing the burden of housework. You may even have had your children pitching in and doing chores then (such a negative word ‘chores’, isn’t washing up supposed to be fun?). Maybe you used a bribe or used a reward system, to get them involved, or maybe it’s just a basic expectation that everyone helps out.

child picking up litter

Please Sir, Can I Have some More?

Being a single dad, the needs of having assistance from your children becomes more pronounced with the absence of another adult. Using set routines and delegating tasks to form the well oiled machine of your household is the best way to manage this.

That said, kids shouldn’t just help around the house because you need the help and don’t have time to do it all yourself. It’s also because it’s equally important for them to learn basic life skills whilst becoming more selfless in the process.

When to Start

The ways that your children can help will vary greatly on their age and maturity. I’m pretty sure asking a two year old to do the ironing can only end badly. It is, however, important that even toddlers start to learn to do chores assisted, in a fun and meaningful way.


Not Just Sweeping Chimneys

Having a footstool up at the sink so your toddler can help wash up the less breakable and non-sharp things is a great introduction. Whilst washing up you can explain how the hot water and soap help kill the germs that could make them sick, and that it’s much nicer to put food onto clean plates than eat off yucky dirty ones.

Talk about the safety aspects like not leaving a sharp knife in the water by washing each one on its own. Always be mindful of any potentially harmful factors such as temperature of the water and the need to wear gloves to protect their hands.

Establishing routines and expectations will reduce the amount of resistance you encounter from your kids, particularly the older they get. This is why having them pitch in from an early age is beneficial even if it does double the time it takes to get it done by yourself. Play the long game for maximum rewards down the track!!!

Just as mentioned in my Timetable for the Day article about the magic of writing a daily timetable, the same method works equally well here. Either having a whiteboard up somewhere in the house or a printed chart on the fridge for responsibilities in the home really helps in this regard.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

So what are the best ways for your kids to help around the home? I guess the basics are:

  • Washing up

  • Stacking dishwasher

  • Emptying dishwasher

  • Vacuuming

  • Tidying bedrooms

  • Taking out garbage

  • General tidying of house

  • Feeding/walking pets

  • Blower/vac the garden and outside

  • Mowing

  • Washing the car

  • Ironing

  • Cooking dinner (see my cooking with kids article)

  • Taking younger siblings out to the park for a play

parent and child washing up

These are considered chores because they are likely to not do them under their own volition, so ensuring they are an expectation is paramount. You may wish to ‘pay’ kids for doing these jobs, but it’s important to consider the lesson they are learning might be to only help if there is some kind of payment.

Chores are things that sometimes have to be done without reward or payment to maintain a functioning household. You don’t get paid to do them, they’re just a necessity.

That said, you may wish to make chores part of a condition to receiving pocket money instead of just throwing money at them. That’s the fine line though isn’t it? You’re trying to teach them that not only should money be earned, but also that chores are a necessity and aren’t always rewarded with payment.

‘Punishment’ as form of getting kids to do chores (and for that matter punishment for most situations) is delicate matter and it is better using positivity and choice theory to manage them. See my article on intrinsic motivation, for more detail.

Sometimes, it’s simply about the way you phrase things, the tone and expression you use that can turn a hostile situation into a positive one. Instead of yelling, ‘You haven’t done the dishes or walked the dog, you’re grounded!’ Just say nice and calmly, ‘Hey, when you’re room’s tidy and you’ve walked the dog, you can watch tv or play Xbox. Love yooooou!’ Being polite, positive, playful will yield much better results and keep your home a pleasant place to be.

For more info check out my Linktree at

As with any of my articles and posts, feel free to contact me with feedback or other ideas about things you'd like to see on my site.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page