If you have read my articles on “chores for kids by age 5” and “chores for kids by age 12” you already have your child helping with everything in the house. Teens…well we all remember what it was like as a teen. It is an uphill battle with a teen. All the more reason to stand your ground and make sure they are ready for the world as productive citizens. It’s YOUR job to make sure they can clean up after themselves, help others, and not have a sense of entitlement or expect people to clean up after them because that is what you have done for them.
Not having your teen doing chores is a disservice to you, your household and especially to them. You may think that you are helping them by doing everything for them; from cleaning their dirty dishes in their room (because given the opportunity they would not eat at the table with the rest of the family) to cleaning up their dirty socks that they didn’t even attempt to put in the hamper. You are NOT helping them! You are creating lazy adults who will just get worse as they get older.
Your teen should at the very least should be cleaning up after themselves. Check out my chores list from my previous article. Their room is their space and it should be clean at all times. Now, I am not saying to be a drill sergeant, the good Lord knows my room is not clean all the time. But, you can come in and not feel like you need a shower when you leave. It is clean meaning it doesn’t have dust, it has been vacuumed this week, and basically everything is in its place.
- Vacuum once a week or so
- Stuff off the floor
- Laundry in the hamper
- Homework put away when they are finished with it
- Dust once a week or so
- Dishes taken to the dishwasher daily
- Clean clothes put away
- Other surfaces organized (nightstands, desk, hope chest, book shelf, etc)
You should be able to look in their room at any given time throughout the week and not have your skin crawling. It takes probably 20 minutes for the whole week to do all of these things. They will learn to keep their space tidy so they will be good roommates, great spouses and all in all decent human beings.
Different Family, Different Responsibilities
This depends on how much they actually have going on in their lives. Let me rephrase. This depends on how much they are actually doing outside their own little world to improve themselves and their future. The child who is at school from 7:30 am until 3:30 pm because of extra classes they are taking to graduate early, then go to sports practice until 5, then band practice or work until 9 pm (yes, this was me and I didn’t die from all the activity, I was better for it) I wouldn’t expect to have the same daily chores that a child who only has the minimum amount of school, no extra-curricular activities and no part-time job.
My mom was pregnant and had babies when I was in high school and even though I had that schedule I still did the dishes and my whole family’s laundry almost daily. I also vacuumed, mopped, swept, and kept my own bathroom (and sometimes my brother’s bathroom) clean. I watched my baby brother and sister weekly which sometimes meant taking them to the school sports games (once I quit band and didn’t have to participate in them). I am not saying I am an overachiever, it was just my life, my responsibilities. It really didn’t take a whole lot of extra effort to do my part and a little more to keep my family running.
Now that I am a single parent, I have to rely on my children to do their part (I touched on this in my previous posts). This is for 2 reasons, I can not do everything no matter how hard I try, and I know that I am raising adults. It is solely my responsibility to make sure these children go out into the world knowing the things they are supposed to know in order to have blessed lives.
YOU are in Charge
My last point and I hope the one that sticks the most for you is that you are in charge! Not them.
It is emotionally exhausting having teens but if you stand firm, they will know what their responsibilities and do them as a part of their life.
Let them suffer the consequences and follow through with what you say.
Even as children mine know that if it isn’t in the hamper, it isn’t getting washed. Each of my children have their own part in the laundry. We do a load every day sometimes two. I go to their room and get the hamper each day to separate the specific load I am doing. Each of my children has learned the hard way that I don’t look around for their favorite shirt or to make sure their underwear is in the hamper. Even my 4-year-old has not had her favorite dress because it was laying on the floor instead of where it was supposed to be.
Have a little grace, don’t become a tyrant, but make sure they know on average if you say they are responsible for something, you mean it. I will say it again, it really does not take any extra effort to do these things that help you out. They are completely capable to clean up after themselves and have chores that benefit the family as a whole.
Create a Productive Adult
Say What You Mean
You’re Tired, I Know, It WILL Be Worth It
Peace and Balance,