Gender Inequality in Household Chores: Bridging the Gap from Toddlers to Teens

Let's talk chores. We might be doing a better job than ever preparing our daughters for paid work - but we ALSO need our sons to understand the value of unpaid work.


Cognitive Development
Blog Images Chores (1).png

Chores aren't just about keeping the house tidy. They're a sneak peek into the bigger world of who does what in our families, and yep, it's not always fair. Did you know boys are raking in twice the allowance for doing chores compared to girls? That's $13.80 a week for the boys and just $6.71 for the girls. And while our teenage girls are spending 45 minutes a day on housework, the boys are clocking in just 30. That's not just about time - it's about how we value everyone's work.

So why fuss over chores? Well, believe it or not, chores are one of the strongest predictors of long-run success, according to the longest-running study of development - the Harvard Grant Study. Chores are about pitching in, spotting what needs to be done, and taking responsibility. But how do you start, and how do you keep things fair?

When to Start with Chores?

Toddlers? Yep, they can do chores too! Start simple and fun. As kids grow, you can up the ante with the chores, making sure they match up with what they can handle. Here’s a quick list to get you going:

  • Toddlers (Ages 2-3):

    • Tidying up toys

    • Feeding pets with help

    • Putting clothes in the hamper

    • Dusting easy-to-reach places

    • Wiping baseboards

    • Matching socks from laundry

    • Watering plants

    • Bringing in light groceries

    • Clearing their spot at the table

    • Helping make the bed (more like fluffing pillows!)

  • Preschool (Ages 4-5):

    • Setting the table

    • Helping with gardening (like pulling weeds)

    • Simple cleaning tasks (like sweeping)

    • Feeding pets

    • Helping put groceries away

    • Folding towels

    • Picking up litter in the yard

    • Wiping the table after meals

    • Helping prepare simple snacks

    • Putting away laundry

  • Ages 6-8:

    • Sorting laundry

    • Vacuuming specific rooms

    • Unloading the dishwasher

    • Raking leaves

    • Making their bed daily

    • Preparing simple meals (like assembling a sandwich)

    • Cleaning their room

    • Helping wash the car

    • Taking out the trash

    • Sweeping the kitchen floor

  • Ages 9-12:

    • Cooking simple meals

    • Washing the car

    • Managing their laundry

    • Cleaning the bathroom

    • Helping with grocery shopping

    • Walking the dog

    • Making a simple budget for their expenses

    • Packing their lunches

    • Mopping floors

    • Washing windows

  • Teens:

    • Mowing the lawn

    • Managing household bills

    • Preparing family meals

    • Babysitting younger siblings

    • Deep cleaning tasks (like the garage or attic)

    • Organizing pantries or closets

    • Helping with home improvement projects

    • Planning and cooking a weekly family dinner

    • Grocery shopping

    • Doing regular car maintenance (if they're driving)

Keeping It Real and Fair

Don't expect perfection. Kids are learning, and that's what matters. Make chores about effort and being part of the team, not just getting it done.

Allowances and Rewards: Yay or Nay?

Rewards? Sure, but keep it real. Basic chores are part of being in the family. But if your kid goes above and beyond, why not recognize that extra effort? It's about balancing the everyday responsibilities with those extra bits they take on.

Chores are more than just tasks; they're life lessons in a tidy package. By getting our kids involved, we're not just cleaning up our homes; we're setting up our kids for success and teaching them the real deal about fairness and teamwork. So, let's roll up our sleeves and make chores a win-win for everyone!