What Should Kids be Responsible For?

Do you feel like all you ever do is clean up after your kids? Do your kids seem to think it’s your job to take care of their things? Has your child ever blamed you because they didn’t have their gym shoes/ library book/ permission slip?  If so, it’s time to make a change! January is a great time to set new goals and turn your school age children into responsible kids. 

Here are the six things that your school aged kids can (and, in my opinion, should) be responsible for:

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The 6 Things School Age Kids Should be Doing Themselves

1 – Laundry

My kids are 10 and 14 years old and have been doing their own laundry for a couple years. Laundry is not rocket science– it’s actually quite simple. We switched to a no-sort-do-your-own-laundry system a couple years ago and it has been fantastic.  Everyone has a hamper in his or her own room- when it’s full, it’s time to do laundry. I can always tell when my son’s hamper is full because it’s the only time he wears jeans!

Because each load belongs to one person, there is no sorting once it comes out of the dryer. This is especially helpful now that I have a teenage son who wears the same size as my husband! There is no blaming mom for not having a certain piece of clothing clean and ready to wear because everyone is responsible for his or her own. Priceless!

what should kids be responsible for

2 – School Items

Kids can and should take care of their school items from a very young age. They should be showing you their folder, they should be responsible for their own library books, they should get their own lunch.

I am a big fan of checklists, especially for young kids. My kids used to have “ready for school” checklists posted by their cubbies. This helps teach kids personal responsibility from a very young age.  It’s also nice to have something to refer to (translation- less nagging!) Check out this example of a backpack checklist with pictures for younger kiddos.

3 – Getting Themselves Ready

Let your kids pick out their own clothes. Let your son wear a bowtie and sweatpants. Let your daughter wear stripes, polka dots, and mismatched socks. It just doesn’t matter. By letting your kids pick out their own clothes, you are telling them that they are responsible and that you trust them. Their crazy outfits do not reflect poorly on you- trust me. By the age of three, most kids can put their own clothes on.

Kids still need some supervision and reminders about personal hygiene, but they should be able to take care of most- if not all- of these things on their own by the time they start school. I like this morning routine checklist.

responsible kids

4 – Toys and Such

In our house, everyone is responsible for taking care of his or her own things, period. Parents do play a role in this– you can’t get mad at your kids for not putting their stuff away if they don’t have a good system for organizing their belongings.  

Try having labeled bins that kids are able to reach independently. Try some printable bin labels like this. Get in the habit of an “end of the day sweep” where everyone spends a few minutes collecting their own items from the main areas of the house (kitchen, living, dining room) and delivering them back to their own bedrooms.

5 – Dishes

Don’t clear your kids dishes for them- you’re not their personal busser.  That is all.

6 – Other household chores

My kids probably get tired of hearing me say, “We all helped make this mess so we all help clean it up!” But it’s true. It’s not my job to clean up after my kids all the time.

Do I do more than my fair share of cleanup around the house? Probably. But do I expect everyone to pitch in? You better believe it!  This is our system to help get everyone involved in helping to keep your house clean – maybe it will work for you, too!

Remember- our job as parents is to raise independent, capable kids– teach them responsibility from a young age!

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