Summer vacation is just around the corner and for many kids that means finally getting to sleep in, hang out with friends, and enjoy the lazy days. And while kids should definitely be able to enjoy their summer with friends, they also need to be helping around the house. Making young teens responsible for chores around the house teaches them valuable life lessons they will need as they grow older, move out, and live on their own.
Chores are something that children of all ages should be doing and ranges from encouraging your younger children to pick up after themselves to teaching older children everything from doing laundry to cooking to mowing the lawn. Having kids do chores teaches them self-discipline, a solid work ethic, and responsibility, so it's perfectly normal to set the expectations that your child will have to complete daily chores before they get to enjoy those lazy days of summer (and throughout the school year too.) If you have a 13-year-old at home these are some of the chores that are age-appropriate, and that your child can be doing to help out around the house.
At the age of 13, teenagers should be able to be fully responsible for their own personal hygiene and responsibilities. Parents shouldn't have to remind them to take a shower or brush their teeth, and they can even take responsibility for waking themselves up in the morning and ensuring they are at appointments or games/practices/lessons on time. You can purchase an inexpensive alarm clock if you don't want your child to have their phone in their room so they can ensure they are getting themselves up on time every morning. Giving children autonomy over their body and schedule teaches them independence and personal responsibility and takes a lot of that pressure off parents.
While your 13-year-old may not be ready to create four-course meals for the entire family, they are definitely ready to prepare more basic dishes for themselves, younger siblings and even help with more advanced meal preparation. Teaching children how to cook simpler things like macaroni and cheese to eggs or soup and advancing as your child shows interest and skill will help ensure they aren't simply snacking on easy to grab items if they're home alone. Teaching them how to help with more complicated meal preparation makes dinner time much easier and efficient as well.
As children become teenagers they become fully capable of taking on more responsibilities around the home and that includes helping out with the cleaning. Bathrooms, bedrooms, vacuuming, washing windows, emptying the dishwasher, dusting. sweeping and mopping are all chores that your teen can be doing to help out around the house. Roger W. McIntire, a University of Maryland psychology professor and author of Raising Good Kids in Tough Times told WebMD that it's important parents adjust their expectations when it comes to kids and chores. They need to understand their kids may not do chores the same way they might with the same attention to detail, and expecting perfection may be setting everyone up for failure. Allow kids to clean their own way, and if it isn't up to your standards, show them how you expect it to be done. Try to refrain from doing it for them because that would just undermine the entire point of assigning chores, McIntires says.
At 13-years-old, your child should be able to not only help clean up inside the house but outside as well. Teens can help with everything from mowing the lawn to weeding the gardens to all the weekly maintenance that comes with typical yard work. Having a schedule as to what day the grass needs to be cut and expecting your teen does it without reminder also helps them be accountable for their own chores.
Washing the Car
Taking your car to the car wash can get expensive, and there's no need to spend that cash if you have a teenager at home who can do it for free. Having your teen wash your car, including vacuuming and dusting the interior and making sure the windows are clean teaches them not only the value of doing chores but in taking pride in their belongings.
If you're tired of spending your weekends doing laundry, the good news is that your teens can now start doing their own which creates much less of a chore burden on parents who already have enough to do. You may not want your children doing your laundry, but teaching them how to operate the washer and dryer and making them responsible for washing and folding their own clothes may make them think twice about throwing something in the laundry because it's easier than folding it and putting it back in their drawers.
Thirteen is the perfect age to let older siblings look after younger siblings, even if it's just so you can run a few errands without younger children in tow or to enjoy a few much needed hours out in the evening without kids. Entrusting your teen with their younger siblings tells them you think they are ready for more responsibility around the home.
Teens are fully capable of taking on the daily responsibilities of the family pet. This could include walking and cleaning up after the dog, cleaning out cages of smaller pets like hamsters or guinea pigs, cleaning out litter boxes, and ensuring all animals are fed and their feeding area cleaned.
Parents know their children better than anyone and know what they are capable of. This is simply a guideline of what young teens can be doing to help around the house that will, in turn, help them learn valuable life lessons and gain responsibility. Allowance or reward systems can be put in place as an extra incentive, with parents assigning a different value to each individual chore if that's what works for your family. Teens can then use that money to help pay for their wants and needs throughout the summer and school year. Not only does that teach accountability, but it also teaches them to budget and save and work for what they want.