Teens as Time-Savers: Getting Kids to Help Around the House

Published Tuesday, February 21, 2012 9:59 PM

Working parents are chronically pressed for time, juggling the needs of family, home and work. Yet many busy families fail to take full advantage of a useful, free resource that can typically be found sprawled across the sofa, cell phone in one hand, snack in another. Yes, we're talking about your teen.

Savvy parents press their teens into service on a variety of tasks around the house: from lawn care to cooking, to shopping and cleaning. Requiring teens to pitch in on running the household is a win-win for all. Parents get needed help around the house and teens learn critical life skills for navigating the adult world.

What's for Dinner?: Turn the nightly "what's-for-dinner?" question over to your teens once a week. In My Sons, The Sous-Chefs,  NYT reporter Leslie Kaufman recounts how with some prep work (i.e. providing basic kitchen training and guidance on recipe selection) she was able to outsource two meals a week to her teen sons.

Bag Grocery Shopping: Teens and their bottomless-pit appetites make stocking the house with groceries an ongoing (and expensive!) task. Deputize your teen to take over the grocery run by buying a portable shopping cart they can walk to the store, list in hand. If groceries aren't within walking distance, drop your child off while you run other errands and arrange to pick her and the groceries up at a set time. Online financial site Mint.com has great tips for teaching kids to navigate supermarkets with a budget here. 

Live-In Housekeeper: Live-in housekeepers may seem like a luxury for celebrities and mega millionaires but when you deputize the multiple members of a family to pitch in on chores, it's like having your own live-in cleaning squadron. Read Who Needs a Housekeeper?  for tips on teaching kids cleaning fundamentals.

Laundry 101: Laundry ain't rocket science but then again knowing how to sort colors, choose water temps and follow garment care labels isn't instinctive either. Take time to teach your teen laundry basics; you are giving them a skill they will use until they are old enough to teach their own kids to take over laundry duty. Step-by-step instructions can be found in this useful post. 

Finally, we leave you with advice on setting up a user-friendly, equitable chore chart from our past post Why Scheduling Household Chores Works. 


Let us know how your new chore charts work. Does having teens pitch in help your household run more smoothly? Is your teen slowly acquiring needed life skills? Share your thoughts here and on the Pendaflex Facebook page.


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