Invest time teaching kids to share the load (and save time)

Why do parents try to ‘do it all’? I have never understood parents who do all the work around the house while the kids do close to nothing. Two problems with this – (i) the kids are being taught to be lazy, self-centered, and increases their dependency; and (ii) the already time-starved parents end up doing all the work. When you invest time teaching kids to share the load at home, you will save a lot of time.

3 year old wiping dishes Often parents don’t spend the time teaching because they feel the child is not able to learn how to do it, won’t do a good enough job, or it will take too long to teach them. However, in many cases these are false assumptions. Take a simplistic example of tying a kid’s shoelaces… Now, you can do it for them for the rest of your life if you please. But a smarter method would be to teach them to do it themselves as soon as possible. Likewise – the dishes, tidying the room, feeding the family pet etc. If you feel the job is ‘too hard’ or they won’t do a good enough job then you could do the job together, until they are ready. (Actually, the same principle can be applied to junior staff at work)

Some approaches include:

1) Develop good habits in your kids when they are young. (Don’t wait until they are 10 years old.) 2) Slow down and invest time teaching the kids how to do jobs. (Yes, it will take you longer in the short term, but the longer term benefits are worth it for them and you). 3) Do jobs together 4) Encourage, encourage, encourage. 5) Teach them to delay gratification by doing their chores before their leisure activities. 6) Communicate the importance of the family sharing and helping each other. 7) Lessons worth passing on:
  • if you made the mess clean it up,
  • to do the job without being told.
  • Offer to help others.

The benefits:

1. Your child learns responsibility 2. You are not left doing all the work (and hence have more time).


“..there comes a time when you have to stop doing things for others at the expense of yourself and let others learn to care for themselves. This doesn’t mean that you are giving you are abdicating your role as caretaker. It means you are giving your family a great gift – the ability to be responsible and self-reliant”. (Finding Time, Paula Peisner Coxe).

Other articles you may be interested in

Why Cleaning is a Waste of Time Time Management with Newborn Twins


How do your kids share the work load? Any tips?


My wife and I have worked on this principle eg. teaching them how to feed themselves as soon as they could. With twins this made a big difference in saving us time. At every stage of life there are different things we can teach. It is often a challenge to spend more time teaching instead of just getting it done. Another example is brushing of teeth. Our kids currently brush their teeth themselves but for the moment we need to do it again for them to make sure it's done well. Double work now but I'm sure they will learn soon.

Can't wait till they can make us cups of tea but I guess that will be a long time. :)

Love the photo. Very cute!

I am teaching the girls to put their shoes on the rack and toys away. Small things but a great help for me none the less.
The girls actually love to help. If they give them a wet cloth they go for it with the wiping the tables and they glow whenever they get praise for these little chores.
My little helpers even help me put washing on the clothes horse too (one more than the other). It's fun doing things together that help us all.
There is much left for them to learn and do so we will persist :)


I sometimes do things for my kids because I want to get ‘closer’ to them. For example, I would carry my son from his bed to the dining table to eat because I want to carry him and play with him on the way to the dining room. There is also safety factor – my son loves to wipe washed dishes but he overdoes it with knifes and glasses even though he has been informed not to.

I think almost all parents get their kids to do some work at home. My kids learnt to feed themselves at a very young age, tie shoelaces, prepare the tables. My daughter helps by bathing her younger brother and preparing his clothing and reading books to put him to bed. Yeah I have trained them well! Only problem is that my wife thinks I am lazy ;-(

"It's true, kids are easier to teach than teenagers.. ;D Well, if the approach is right and in slow building stage, it'll be beneficial as a child grows with small but good attributes in him. Aside from lots of bonding time involved, developing their attentiveness to a particular task may spark their interest and passion at the same time.

Adam @ the portable dvd player site"