sChores For a 13 Year Old

Updated on August 27, 2012
D.B. asks from Eastlake, CO
10 answers

What chores do you assign to your teenager? We had tried laundry, but I had to yank it after losing half my work and bra wardrobe to a job poorly done. Also, what consequences do you impose if the chores aren't done? it seems in this day of cellphone, kindles, computers, etc if you restrict them from 1 or 2 things they just move on to the third. Thanks ladies!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your insights. Good to hear I'm not too far off base as far as what a 13 year old should be capable of. We had a good discussion about this last night. I LOVE the idea of splitting the laundry out (as one person suggested) saving the jeans, towels, & sheets for the kids. My teen liked the idea too - less for her to do! Though she's been fully trained on how to handle all types of clothing, and has done it well before, she regressed and started ruining lots of stuff. The 'split' is a great compromise. I also appreciated the suggestions of types of things she could do, and gathered a few new ideas (espcially ideas outside the 4 walls of our house!)

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answers from Phoenix on

Teenagers can do laundry, but they will need some training in order to be able to do it right, and judge what colors/clothes go into what piles, and temp settings etc. It will take more than a couple times before they can really do it on their own. :-)
Here is a NEATO website I found that has a lot of information about chores, behavior, etc. They have chore charts to help you what chores are right for what ages. :-D Here's the link:

I printed out several charts...even one for my hubby! LOL Just to help him remember what needs to be done. He tends to forget....Hmmmm....I wonder though....Probably a ploy to get out of doing some. HA HA HA!!!

Here are some of my suggestions on chores for a 13 year old:

Clean Room, Dust and Vacuum Room (pick up room every day, but dust and vacuum on weekends)
Clean Bathroom (on weekends)
Take out trash (should check every day)
Help with dinner dishes (every day)
Yard work (on weekends)
Homework. (that's a given). :-)

I wouldn't put too much on your teen as the homework they get will definitely keep them busy, but a lot of this can be done on the weekends too.

Hope this helps. :-D

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My daughter (12) is basically responsible for HERSELF. Which means there is absolutely no consequence TO ME if HER laundry isn't done or is done wrong.... it's all on her.

*She does all her own laundry: clothing, sheets, towels. I think she left stuff in the washer once or twice. She found all her stuff laying wet o(r dry, depending on which she'd left them in) on the floor because I had to do mine. Now she washes, dries and folds without leaving clothes.
*She keeps her room clean - or not. If it's not clean she keeps the door closed. It's her space. But if she can't find something because it's not where it's supposed to be.... she goes without. She's getting better...... she once had to re-do an entire assignment because she couldn't find it.... she got way better after that.
*There is an upstairs bathroom that is not "hers" but she is the one who primarily uses it. She is responsible for keeping it clean. This she does not have a choice (like the choice she has with her room or her clothes) because it's not solely her space. If I go in there and it's not clean, she has to stop what she's doing RIGHT THEN and come clean it while I watch her. That means one time she had to go late to a sleepover because it wasn't what I considered clean.
*she has to pick up anything that is hers in common areas of the house before she goes to bed each night / or before she leaves to go somewhere fun or with a friend.

As far as consequences...... I won't make MYSELF late.... I will tell her that it needs to be clean / picked up before I get home or she will have to clean it / pick it up while I stand there and give her instructions. She HATES that.

The only *family* chores she has is that she empties the dishwasher and puts everything away.
I cook, my soon-to-be-hubby rinses the dishes and puts them in the dishwasher. We each take our plates from the table to the sink. So what was left was emptying the dishwasher and putting away.... that's now her responsibility.
She will also help me with anything that I ask her to do. I try to let her be a kid, but if we have company coming or something.... we will do things together - which actually INCREASES our time together.... plus work gets done.

Additionally, on any general week, she is able to earn *up to* $10 by completing a list of cleaning duties: microwave deep cleaning, sweep & mop kitchen floor, vacuum living room & hallway and clean my bathroom. She can choose to earn that money or not..... it's up to her. But that is how she gets any spending money (unless she gets money or a giftcard as a present). There is also a natural consequence to that..... I still pay for anything we do together as a family.... but if she wants to go to Claire's or whatever and buy earrings, or they want to go for a pretzel after school... that's her money. If she hasn't been cleaning and earning money she can't go or can't buy anything. Same with iTunes.... her phone was her Christmas gift and I pay the monthly cost (because that's how she communicates with me and her dad who lives in another state)... but any games, music, wallpaper etc that she wants.... she has to pay for all of them.

I also don't "punish" with something that isn't related to the offense. So, I wouldn't ever "take away TV or phone" unless she had been misusing the TV or phone. But there IS a rule that things have to be done BEFORE fun happens.... so if she dawdles when she's cleaning the bathroom or she hasn't practiced clarinet or isn't done with her homework..... well then that leaves LESS time for TV or games or whatever. I find it naturally works out and I never have to "ground her" or "take something away" or whatever. Instead of focusing on punishment, I focus on the importance of the task I want her to complete first and I get involved in it. I'll read her first revision and give her pointers.... that keeps her on track.

I also found that if we were doing things TOGETHER it reduced the ability for her to do something wrong. So typically, while I am fixing dinner she will unload the dishwasher. So we are both in the kitchen and we can talk about stuff without it being intense because we are both doing *separate* activities. Same thing as with her helping me clean.... we will do things together so it gets done right the first time or we don't move on to the next thing.

Everything else was set up to have a natural consequence FOR HER only. Therefore, it doesn't impact me..... I could care less if she wears dirty wrinkly smelly jeans to school..... but her FRIENDS will care. So, it gets done and I don't have to spend one iota of energy on that.

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answers from San Francisco on

I wish I had an answer. Last night I lost it with my 13 year old because he claimed he thought that putting away the groceries meant emptying the bags and leaving everything on the counter/ Why? So he could check his iPod Touch. I already took away the Wii and now we are moving the computer to the kitchen because he watches youtube when he says he is doing homework. (He is bright and gets great grades, but fails to understand other people (me) need to use the computer for work. Argh!

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answers from San Francisco on

My oldest two do their own laundry (clothing and towels/linens) but I'd never let them anywhere near mine, lol!
I'm a pretty particular housekeeper, so I make sure I assign chores I KNOW my kids can do well. In addition to doing their own laundry they do all the pet care, feeding, cleaning, scooping the poop (we have a cat, a rabbit and a dog) and they take out the trash and recycling. They help me bring in and put away groceries, and my two oldest keep our third car clean, because that's the one they drive. I am VERY lucky to have a housekeeper who comes in to deep clean (bathrooms, kitchen, dusting, etc.) so we are ALL spared those chores.
As far as restrictions, it really depends on your child. My girls love watching TV, and they're not allowed to watch during the school week so on Friday after school they are chomping at the bit. More than once I have said, with the remote in my hand, oh, you want to watch TV? I guess that means you've finished your chores? They grumble but they get moving. Same with gas money, oh, you need gas money? I guess that means you already cleaned the rabbit cage? That's what works around here! Of course they don't have TVs or internet access in their bedrooms, I imagine if they did it would make rules more difficult to enforce, as I would have less direct control over their entertainment choices.

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answers from Redding on

As a single, working mom, my kids helped with everything. We didn't really call it "chores", it was just part of every day life. Things were assigned on a daily basis. The dishes in the dishwasher needed to be put away or the living room needed to be vacuumed. The trash needed to be taken out to the curb for pick up. The kids were responsible for their own laundry and helping put away towels, sheets, etc. They liked taking long showers, so while they were in there, I gave them a scrubby pad and cup to rinse the shower doors and walls, etc, and I didn't care if they stayed in there until the hot water ran out as long as it was clean when they were done.

Just an daughter went through a phase of thinking that if she did a crappy job, it would just be easier for me to do it myself and she'd get out of it. It didn't work. And, I surprised her with a cell phone for her birthday, even though I didn't even have one myself. She said she didn't want it because it wasn't the same kind her friends had. I returned it and got my money back. She didn't get a cell phone until after she graduated high school, got a job and paid for one herself.

I didn't monkey around and I didn't have the time or resources for my kids to "keep up with the Jones's" if they were going to throw an attitude. I didn't have to threaten to take anything away from my daughter.....she just didn't get it in the first place.

We all had to work together, that's the point. And, things are earned, not just automatically given.

My daughter, now, has a very strong work ethic and is a wonderful mother to her own child. I never had a problem with my son. He cooks, cleans, knows how to sew. It's not about "chores"'s about life lessons and learning how to do things so kids can grow up to be self-sufficient. There are so many kids who are used to having everything done for them to the point that I wonder how they could ever be independent.

Like it or not, that's what we moms are supposed to accomplish.
....Kids who can fly on their own someday.

Best wishes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My mom always said this : It just so shameful if you dress like a princess, but your room looks like a shipwreck. She always shoo us like fly from the bed because she wants to see bed is done, room is clean before 7.
Her habit becomes my habit, too. If I don't do what she does, there's something missing. When the house looks dirty, I feel uncomfortable.
Try to do that. Undirect hypnotherapy like my mom did. It works wonder actually, I do feel not comfortable for sleeping in a bed sheet that looks dirty ( because she repeat that many times!). Motivates me to clean a lot!
By the time I was 13, I hand wash my family clothings, iron them. Sweep the floor every afternoon, clean 3 bathroom every week, change my sheet once a week, and do my own dish cleaning.

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answers from Kansas City on

I don't have a teenager, but as a teenager, we had rotating chores. One week would be bathrooms, one week would be cleaning the kitchen/doing dishes after dinner, one week would be cleaning the living room. It was our job to have our assigned chore done before mom came home from work (or in the case of dishes, done before bed.) In high school we became responsible for doing our own laundry.

I only have a 5 year old, but she's started helping me with my chores so I'll feel comfortable letting her do them herself when she gets old enough. Her only responsibilities now are to clean up her toys, keep her room neat, and put her dishes by the sink after meals. She also likes to help me sort and fold laundry.

If she's not doing the chores correctly, maybe it would be better to start on a weekend and show her how you do it and how you consider it to be done well, and as long as it is, she can have her electronics when it's done. My mom would take away my books when I didn't do them, which was the worst thing in the world for me, so I had the incentive to do them correctly.


answers from Biloxi on

My son has been doing his own laundry since he turned 12. Yeah, I don't let him do mine unless it is t-shirts, jeans and stuff. But, I taught him how to sort, how to use bleach, etc. He does a pretty good job.

From 12 and on he has shared household chores with me. We alternate dishes, sweeping, mopping, bathroom cleanup. He is also responsible for the dogs ( I am for the cats). When he turned 15 he became responsible for the lawn care. At 16, with a summer job's worth of money in his pocket he can chose to pay for lawn care if he wants to.

I had a set list of restrictions for him for failure to do his chores. It involved all the electronics, and he could, through stubbornness and refusal, lose every electronic item in the house for up to a week. If we reach that point he also has to earn each one back. This is still an option for us - I will literally pull things from his room and lock them in my cedar chest.

He helped me write the chore schedule and the restriction list about 2 years ago and it has been posted on our fridge ever since.

The thing is, once you threaten a restriction you have to enforce it or you have no authority.

Also, I presented household chores to my son as sharing responsibilities are something a family does and as things he needed to learn in order to be a self sufficient adult.



answers from Chicago on

One of my girls athrows things in the washer and the other 2 dry and fold. Like you, I will not let them wash regular clothes. I save jeans, towels and sheets for them. My husband wants me to let them do all the laundry. I don;t want to buy a new wardrobe, thanks anyway.
They also each have a room to clean besides their own and one day a week is major cleaning. This means walls washed, floors more thoroughly mopped etc. They also have to wash their own dishes (no dishwasher machine in my house). I have also had them sweep the outside and use a bucket of water and broom on the front steps.
Of course, they do the jobs as fast as possible instead of as well as possible.
And if they do not do it, no electronics at all. They don't have a lot though so they really lose out. Each one also has their own thing they are into so you have to go according to what hurts the most.



answers from Washington DC on

1. Every kid has his or her own thing that makes them tick. So find it and use it. If the kid will shrug off losing time with friends, then take the video games or computer. If the kid won't care about computer time, then take the phone, or make them do extra chores. Work with what motivates YOUR kid.

2. What do you want them to do or need them to do? Are these chores to help out the family/be responsible or for allowance? Or a mix of both? For example, my sks did pet chores because they have pets. It was the result of pet ownership and not something they did for money. Scoop the litter, feed them, brush them, play with them (or in the case of their dog at their mom's house, walk him and pick up the poop). Somewhere around 12 they started doing their OWN laundry. Anything ruined was theirs. If they needed guidance, they were given it, but it became their thing to wash, dry, fold and put away their clothes and they didn't get to whine to us about not having jeans. We paid for mowing the lawn, but that didn't seem to be a big enough motivator so we retracted that. Teens can also do dishes, set tables, pick up their junk, clean their room, take out the trash and recycling...

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