Chores for teens

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2012
Chores for teens
Wed, 09-12-2012 - 8:50am

For those on both this board and the high school board, this is a double post....not sure which one to post to about this!   My daughter just started 9th grade this year and is starting to complain that she has no time to relax whatsoever during the day.  She doesn't usually sit down till about 7:30-8:00.   I don't feel she's doing much beyond what the average teen does....actually a bit less, because she is not in any sports. However,  I'm starting to wonder if I should take away a chore or 2.  These are the chores she has.  She packs her lunch daily (I don't make her..she just does it).  She does her own laundryas needed, vacuums the downstairs daily (takes 5- 10 minutes and she gets paid and extra $1 a day for it), vacuums her room and vacuums and swiffers our bathroom weekly, and dusts her room about every other week.  Is this too much?  Thanks for any input.


Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Fri, 09-14-2012 - 4:06pm

My views on chores are more complicated than some others' - probably overly complicated. :smileywink:

I started out thinking that kids needed to know how to dust, vacuum, clean bathrooms, wash dishes, etc. as I did growing up.  The thing is, in the 60s you didn't have cleaning products like you have today, and things were harder to clean.  And I had parents obsessed with perfect cleanliness, which meant HOURS every weekend.

What I've come to realize is that it doesn't take much to learn how to swish a toilet brush, wipe down bathrooms with a sponge or a Clorox wipe, and run a Dirt Devil over the floor.  By the time they're 15 they can do that with no prior practice.  So then the question was, what is the purpose of doing chores?

I gotta admit that *I* don't like cleaning very much, and it takes a lot of time, and that's why we have a cleaning lady once a week who spends 3 hours doing the dusting, bathrooms, kitchens, and floors.  However there are still lots of other chores to do:  *cleaning up* is a much bigger deal than *cleaning*.  It's also more important from the standpoint of living with other people, since there are 5 of us in our house.

The most important lesson for me with chores is, what is each person contributing to the happiness of the household?  If you leave your stuff all over the floors and chairs, you make life unpleasant for others, so clean up after yourself.  No one wants to see your dirty dishes lying around, so put them in the dishwasher.  No one wants to come into a bathroom littered with bits of tissue or hair or dirty clothes or toothpaste, so clean it up before you leave.

You also need to know how to feed yourself, so learning to do that in elementary school is important.  By middle school, all my kids had nailed the routines of getting up in the morning on their own, getting breakfast and lunch ready before school, cleaning up the bathroom before they leave it, making beds, bringing all their things to school, taking care of snacks after school, clearing the table after dinner, cleaning up their stuff, putting their laundry into the hamper, and so on.  Basically, how to live with others.

They also know that life gets crazy, and even though Dad does all the cooking, sometimes he's going to need some help, so when he calls you, pitch in right away.  If you're asked to go bring in groceries, take the dogs outside to work off some energy, clean up video games & movies, or anything else, there's a reason for it, so just do it and don't argue that it's not your job, because it's everyone's job.

Conversely, life gets crazy for them too.  In the summer, I have the older ones alternate cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, but during the school year, DD only has to do them two nights on the weekend.  It's much more important that she do everything else in her life than chores.  If I'm extremely busy with work, I may do very little to help out around the house because I'm too busy making money to keep the machine running, so DH does it all.  It's about picking up the slack for others and knowing they'll do it for you too when you need it.

Last point, some kids are better at organizing their time/life than others.  17yo DD is a natural whiz at it and finds it fun, 20yo DS didn't "get it" until he was 17, and 12yo DS needs help structuring his routines and staying on task after school.  DH has him work off a schedule of get home, snack, homework, 15 mins video games, practice piano, 15 mins videogames, practice cello.  He manages to get it all done before 7pm so he can watch "The Simpsons," LOL, even on days when he has an after school activity.  He's only in 7th grade, and I know it will change when he starts HS, but the point is, he manages to get a lot done with some supervision and routines.  If he didn't have those, he'd have a rough time of it.


Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Thu, 09-13-2012 - 9:17pm
No, not at all.. Chores are important part of life and so is time management and figuring out ot finish these things. Something my ds is struggling with now!!

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2012
Thu, 09-13-2012 - 10:39am

As of right now, my daughter hasn't had more than 90 minutes of homework in one night.  My husband and I have been discussing changing her chores up for awhile now.  I think it's important that she knows how to do everything!  I'm going to keep all of her other chores the same except possibly the vacuuming.  I think rotating some other chore in place of that will be a good thing.  Once she cleans the bathroom and shower one time, I know she'll be begging for the vacuuming back!  I'm always a little unsure in the chores category, because I feel that I had to do a very unreasonable amount of chores when I was young.  I kind of felt like Cinderella!  Looking back, I realize my mom probably did want me to know how to do everything, and they were very generous to me when it came to holidays, clothes, etc....  If she can't find time to do these chores, how will she ever budget her time when it comes time to work, go to college, etc?  At least I now know that most other teens do have to do as much if not more than her!

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Thu, 09-13-2012 - 10:31am
I could go off on a rant on this one - one of my friends has 3 sons, all who had some special need or another (oldest dislexic/ADD, middle cleft palate, youngest I honestly don't know). All are also gifted IQ. None have ever had to do anything around the house; she has a cleaning person 3x every 2 weeks. Now she's divorced and on her own and 2 of the boys (all college age now) are moving back in with her and don't like to stay with dad at all as his place is messy. Um, can't they pitch in at all? Mom still has the cleaning help. I honestly feel for the women those boys end up with as they'll either expect her to do it or expect her to manage a cleaning person - hopefully they'll have the wherewithal to cover that...

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009
Wed, 09-12-2012 - 10:54pm

Welcome to our corner of the village.

This is a good fun topic.

Here at Camp Kimmy, we started our girls to doing chores at four and five, by six and seven they were pushing the lawn mower, cleaning toilets, doing all the cooking and housework while their dad and I sat on our butts watching Jerry Springer and Murray Povitch as we each ate 6,000 calories of potato chips every day and a couple of six packs of beer to wash them down.   What else are kids for?  Right?   LOL

Seriously, by ten and eleven the girls were in charge of maintaining their bedrooms and their bathroom, vacuuming a modest 1,500 sq. ft. home three times a week, dusting once a week, putting dishes into the dish washer, putting them back in the cabinets, helping put up the laundry.  For this they received a very modest allowance.  We really stuck to the kids on this deal (just joking).  Besides shifting your work onto them (joking), you’re also teaching them the connection between work and reward (not joking on this point), along with the fine points of budgeting, spending, saving for the things they find important (something every kid needs to learn, unless your family has an evergreening money tree in your back yard—ours was dead when we purchased this home).

At about eleven and twelve, as I had returned to work, they took on more household duties and they started mowing, hedging, and weed eating our lawn for a larger allowance.  And that was about the time that they were each given a chunk of family money to manage for school lunches, cloths, entertainment like movies, six flags, waterpark, and incidentals like hair care, cosmetics, etcetera. It was up to them to decide how important things like brand name clothing, video games, i-pods, phones, etcetera, were.  That was also about the time that they started bartering with some older neighbors with lawn care for internet access, cab service to six flags, the waterpark, and the mall.  And a year or two later they and a couple of guys we now call SILs started mowing more lawns for even more money.  As Gordon Gecko said, “Greed is good!”   LOL

The amount of chores you described should not take more than about fifteen or twenty minutes a day.  This is NOT too much of a burden for any high school student to contribute to the family and she is being rewarded with money for the work. 

Every kid has different school years that are difficult for them to adjust to.  This may be one of those years for your daughter.  And with girls you have certain hormonal and emotional issues. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2012
Wed, 09-12-2012 - 7:11pm

I think I'm going to really take notice over the next week as to where all of her time is going and take it from there.  I may switch up the chores just so she's not sick of doing the same thing all of the time.  Instead of vacuuming every day, I may have her clean the whole bathroom one day over the weekend...or dust the downstairs, etc..

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 09-12-2012 - 3:47pm

Or if she has had little HW before this, maybe she needs some help organizing her time, prioritizing, or just not wasting time and getting stuff done.  You know how it feels if you have tons of stuff to do, but then you just break it down into small increments and then you see it's not so bad.  It might be hard to come home from school & start right in on HW w/ no break so maybe she can go for a walk then, or watch 1/2 hr of TV then start on the Hw knowing that dinner will be another break & then get more done.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Wed, 09-12-2012 - 1:55pm
If it takes your dd from 3:30 till 7:30-8 to "...walk the dog... dinner, homework, picking out an outfit and gym clothes for the next day..." there's a larger problem here than just not wanting to do chores. My kids are both ADD+, and they still managed to do extracurriculars, homework, chores, in addition to the normal daily activities. One of our hard and fast rules tho, was FIRST WE WORK, THEN we play. No unsupervised 'puter, no puter or TV in their rooms, no video games at ALL, and no TV till we all were ready to sit down.
Also, if your dd get overwhelmed that easily, things are only going to get worse as the demands of school get heavier. You might want to think about some counseling for her, or an eval to see if she suffers from ADD, Executive Dysfunction, or another disorder that causes that degree of anxiety.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2012
Wed, 09-12-2012 - 11:17am

lol!  The only reason we do it daily is because we have a dog that sheds horrendously!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2012
Wed, 09-12-2012 - 11:16am

I think it is just the adjustment factor.  In middle school, the work was she really has to work at it.  As of now, she is not involved in any after school activity.  She leaves around 6:45 in the morning and gets home around 3:30.  She does usually go for a 20-30 min walk with us when we walk the dog at night.  Other than that, it's just dinner, homework, picking out an outfit and gym clothes for the next day, shower, etc.....  She does tend to get overwhelmed VERY easily.  However, I guess that's something she's just going to have to get used to!  Thanks!