OMGoodness! My daughter is 15 years and she can’t cook stew yet. Am I doing the right thing? What if she’s supposed to be cooking fried rice already. When I went to Josephine’s house, I saw her 13-year-old take charge in the kitchen. Josephine practically left the kitchen for her………. Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah!
If this is your story, please do not despair. You are not alone. Let me share my little tale with you. Few months ago, I sat beside a good friend in church. Innocently, she narrated how she went to visit her extended family in another state and her niece who is about my first daughter’s age called her while she was still at the airport asking what she wanted to eat. At first, I was like, “shebi” it can’t be more than noodles or something of that nature. Just as I was about asking what the young lady was going to cook, my friend said wait…… keeping me in suspense.
Then she said when she got home, low and behold, her niece had made “FRIED RICE”! F-R-I-E-D R-I-C-E. My mouth went agape! What? Fried rice ke? “Mo gbe”. My head started spinning. I began to ask myself questions. Am I teaching my children the right things at the right time? Should they be doing more chores? I even tried to reflect on my own upbringing. I remember very well that my first pot of stew (which was watery) was made when I was 18+. After high school o. Not that I was waiting for my children to get to be 18 before learning to make stew but then I didn’t think of fried rice at such a tender age.
Anytime I am faced with questions like these, I take a trip into the world of literature. I began to research on age appropriate chores for children. Comparing what I found in the books with my chore distribution, I wasn’t doing a bad job at all. So here is how I have been able to distribute chores amongst my children putting their ages in mind.
Ages 2-3 years
This is the age when you get to teach your child that song about cleaning your toys up……. “clean-up, clean-up, everybody do your share”. They must be able to pick up after themselves. Throw cookie wraps into the trash can etc. They can even help in the kitchen to pick up empty light grocery wraps. They should also know that dirty clothes go into the hamper. Do all these with supervision.
Ages 4-6 years
This was the age I began teaching my children to set the table for breakfast or dinner (when we get to eat together as a family). The book I read said children can assist with cooking. I didn’t do this because I was too scared for my children to be handling kitchen utensils (especially sharp ones) at this age so there was little or no assistance with cooking. This was the age I started teaching them how to dress themselves. At age 6, I allowed my children to wash their own plate (plastic plate), chinaware and cup, with supervision. Also at age 6, I thought my daughters to sweep their dining space after eating. They use brush and dust pan. My 7-year-old started cleaning the tables, dusting, arranging shoes on shoe rack, sorting socks etc. at age 6.
Ages 7-10 years
One of my children is in this age range now. Besides the above chores, I just started teaching her how to bathe herself using sponge and soap and how she can take care of her personal hygiene. By age 10, children should be able to do dishes for the whole family without supervision, clean and maintain organized room with supervision. In respect to academics (particularly homework), I still monitor my children closely at this age because I do not want to drop the ball. Some children become very independent at a very early age so you have to study your child to know. My advice though, keep an eye on those homework. At 10 years, I also ensure they take out the trash (though I have to remind them).
Ages 11-13 years
I have 2 children in this age range. After dinner, I leave them to clean up the entire kitchen. At age 11 is when I start teaching them how to cook basic food like noodles, boiled eggs, simple omelet, egg toast etc. I am thinking of buying a deep fat fryer for dodo so I can use that to teach them. As per fried rice and stew, I am not there yet 🙂 .
Ages 15 and above
My belief is that children at this age should be able to do everything. They should be independent. They should not be prompted to do chores or take care of themselves. I think they should be able to do all chores in the house. Of course, children should still be supported by parents until adulthood but not necessarily spoon fed anymore.
In regards to my friend whose niece could make fried rice, this is beautiful and I commend both the parent and the child. Personally, I am not comfortable with my children handling the stove at such tender age to cook foods that take multiple steps.
All been said, I think you have to put into consideration the maturity of your child and your comfort level. In a normal situation where there are no limitations, the above listed chores should be able to guide you on the appropriation of chores to your child.
Dearest mother reading this, what wisdom nugget do you have? Please kindly share in the comment section below how you appropriate chores to your children.
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