The Right Age for Chores
Are 3-year-olds too young to do some simple household chores?
The scenario plays out like clockwork in my home every evening. Gracie, standing amid a pile of toys and books in her room, resolutely refuses to clean up after herself while I cajole her into clearing some space.
“Not gonna,” she says while I try to help her out by putting away a few toys.
“Look!” I say, handing a doll to her. “You can put your doll on your bed, and then you can pick up your books.”
She turns her head away from me, and I can see that’s she already in Act II of the evening’s performance, where she will pretend that she can’t see me and go on her merry way, which usually involves playing with Liam’s toys and coloring. This is usually followed by a rousing chorus of “It’s Not My Bedtime (Yet).”
I sigh and give up, frustrated and defeated, but mostly disgusted with myself for giving in so easily. I am the parent, I remind myself, and not for the first time, either.
She’s 3, I reason, and is old enough to pick up the books on the floor. I’m not asking for much — she already sets the table (with supervision) and will gleefully put her clothes away. Gracie will (awkwardly) try her hand at sweeping the floor and likes nothing more than to help me cook and bake in the kitchen.
She’s a great, wonderful kid, in my modest opinion, but sheesh, I am so tired of accidentally stomping on stray plastic toys in the middle of the night. Having her put away her toys when she’s finished playing with them is a totally reasonable request. It’s not like I have her cleaning out the gutters or organizing the spice pantry.
Three is young for major chores, but I want her (and Liam, when he’s older) to get used to helping out around the house. I don’t want it to become a “thing” with either kid when they’re older; if they make a mess, I want them to clean it up without any issue. I’d also like to stop stepping on sharp, pointy Legos in my bare feet.