KFM: The Magic Age for Chores

A few times a month I write for a local magazine called Knoxville Families Magazine, here’s a piece I wrote about chores and goals for our kids.  Seems fitting for a plan for the New Year!   Enjoy.

If you’ve followed me at all you know that I am absolutely clear about my feelings on work.  Our family works.  No, we don’t live on a farm or have an especially expansive array of animals or children to care for.  We live in a typical suburban neighborhood in a typical suburban home with a typical suburban yard.  We just believe that working is an important life skill and that some things must be earned in order to be appreciated.

Throughout the years i’ve recognized this pattern:

 Age 1: “Let’s pick up your toys” is a funny game where baby attempts to fill a bucket with the toys on the floor just to dump them out again.  “Pick up” is fun – it’s challenging, it’s a learning of sorts.

 Age 2: “Let’s pick up your toys” is something you do 1,000 times a day as you move from activity to activity.  It’s mildly fun – you can play toss or catch or race, the toys are large and the pick up is quick.

Age 3: “Let’s pick up your toys” is mildly more difficult.  You have to create elaborate games in which to pile all the toys into a car and then dump the car in the bucket before it spills over onto the floor.  The toys are littered throughout the house.  It’s manageable but definitely not fun any longer for either of us.

 Age 3 1/2: “Let’s pick up your toys” is met with defiance: “you pick up the toys,” or avoidance: “I’m not done playing yet,” or flat our refusal: “NO.”  We call this developmental stage the magic age.

The magic age is when the care and keeping of the little persons things surpasses the caretakers ability or will. It’s the time where the fight to pick up and/or get ready takes longer than the playing with the toys and the house is left littered with legos, baby dolls, art supplies and broken crayons far longer than necessary, simply because another obligation beckoned louder than the toys screaming from the floor.  This magic age screams “Chore chart!”

I saw the magic age creeping in throughout the summer and knew as soon as school started the chore chart would surface and we would begin the painstaking weeks of training a new little person….

Read more at KFM

One thought on “KFM: The Magic Age for Chores

  1. We all know as parents we handle the “chore”of toy pickup in different ways and as a Dad I went the more drastic route. I let Karie go until around the age of 5. At that point She was told any toys not picked up were mine to do with what I wished. Being the “mean ” dad I am, I used a garbage bag to make my point. At bedtime She was told to pick up toys and was given a time limit, after that they were Dad’s toys. At the designated time limit a garbage bag appeared in my hands. Needless to say toys got picked up in a hurry. This work well, for about a week. I should add that I was generous the first week with the occasional toys left behind under a chair or something was forgiven and picked up and put away by me. After the 1 week grace period any toy found went into the bag which was hidden in the garage, even Kathy didn’t know where it was. It didn’t take to long until some toys were “missed” and there whereabouts questioned. I told her they were left out and I took care of them. When I asked her if she remembered the garbage bag the eyes got big and the tears rolled. I Finally told here the toys were safe but she needed to earn them back. When she decided on which toy she wanted back she had to earn it, and I wasn’t to hard to please, things like pick ALL the toys that are out now and I will retrieve the missing toy. Things quickly improved and after several months the toys left in the bag were brought in and dumped on the floor. We went through them and decided which ones we didn’t want anymore. She couldn’t keep all of them only about half. She asked what I was going to do with the left overs. i told her I was giving them to charity. She suddenly got up went to her room and came back with some more toys and said “I don’t play with these anymore, you can give them away too.. I told her I was keeping the bag and it would be used again if necessary. Only an occasional toy got left out after that, I know think that’s how she go rid of her unwanted toys. Now if I could get her to pick up her clothes, maybe I’ll try the same technique.


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