You’re upstairs, folding the laundry, scrubbing the shower stall, making the beds, and emptying the trash cans. Your kids are downstairs, planted in front of the new flatscreen TV, preparing to flip a coin: Spongebob or Squirrel Boy?

Does this sound like a typical Saturday morning at your house?

If so, it’s time to put down the Swiffer and lay down the law.  Experts agree that chores teach responsibility, provide a sense of accomplishment, and build a stronger family unit. Marty Rossman, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, studied a group of children throughout their early years and into young adulthood. The stunning results showed that those who participated in chores as youngsters were more successful than those who did not. Measures of success included graduating from high school, entering into a chosen profession, developing healthy relationships, and remaining drug-free. Well worth the effort it takes to coax your child into walking the dog, washing the car, or emptying the dishwasher!

So why wait?  Hold a family meeting and divvy up the chores. Ask your kids which tasks they want to tackle. Make a chart and post it in a prominent place in the house. It’s a good way of reminding everyone what’s expected. With young ones, you can attach gold stars to the chart for a job well done.

Getting the help you need can be difficult at first.  An extra dose of patience may be necessary, especially if your expectations include glistening countertops and a white glove test. The secret to success?  Assign chores that are age appropriate. The chart below will help to get you started:

Ages 2-3

•    Pick up toys, clothes
•    Straighten the bedcovers
•    Carry laundry to and from the laundry area
•    Help feed family pets
•    Help bring in the newspaper
•    Help water the houseplants
Ages 4-5

•    Make the bed
•    Set the table
•    Bring dishes to the sink
•    Check the mail
•    Help carry and put away groceries

Ages 6-12

•    Take care of pets
•    Cook simple foods
•    Help wash the car
•    Vacuum, sweep, or mop
•    Help in the yard
•    Fold laundry
•    Take out the trash

Ages 13 and up

•    Wash windows
•    Clean out refrigerator
•    Clean stove and oven
•    Prepare dinner
•    Wash and fold the laundry
•    Mow the lawn
•    Help care for younger siblings

Remember, every child is different and the above list is not meant to be gospel. Pushing your kid to do too much too soon will only result in a frustrated, overwhelmed child and an exasperated, cranky Mom and Dad.  How much is too much?  A good rule of thumb is to assign your child the number of chores that corresponds with his or her age (i.e. a two year old should be given no more than two very simple chores, a seven year old can probably handle seven easy chores).  Now what are you waiting for?  Everybody get to work!