Single parent: free help with household chores!



Leaders: share this post with single parents!


It can be overwhelming to parent alone. If you are a single parent, the strategies that follow can lift some of the burden of running your home:

  • The responsibilities
  • The chores
  • The kids
  • The car
  • The laundry
  • The appointments
  • The kid’s activities
  • The schedule changes
  • The working extra jobs or overtime

So let me ask you, are you up for a summer challenge. A challenge that would make your life more fun this summer and more enjoyable for the entire family?

Many single parents try to do it all alone. For some it’s a bad habit they get into from the beginning. For others when things get hectic during the school year with kid’s activities they kind of slip into being the only one responsible on the home front.

Then comes summer and the kids are out of school with extra time on their hands. The beginning of summer is a good time to step back and assess some changes that could make your life simpler and less hectic. Sound good? Read on.

It is not necessary nor is it fair to the parent or the children for the parent to be the only one responsible for the home. Children need to be taught how to contribute. When children contribute they feel more connected to the family.

Oh many kids will gripe and complain but basically they feel included when they share family responsibilities. Plus you are teaching them life living skills that will be needed, as they become adults.

Divide and Conquer

Have a family meeting. Talk about the things that need to be done on a

  • Daily basis
    Making their beds
    Putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher
    Put clean dishes away each day
    Meal preparation
  • Weekly basis
    Clean bathrooms
    Dust and vacuum
    Mop kitchen (or other floors)
    Sort laundry, wash and fold
    Mow yard
  • Monthly basis
    Yard work
    Deep cleaning
    Wash car
    Clean inside car
    Polish furniture and mirrors

Make it fun

Decide in advance what is needed to keep your home clean and tidy. Then take a trip to the store. Purchase some new items to use when cleaning. Some how it’s more fun when one has a new shiny item to use when cleaning. Or when you get the newest cleaning spray that comes out purple but turns white right before your eyes.

At the store give everyone a list of different items and then let them scatter to scavenger hunt for their items. To keep it safe go down one aisle at a time and the kids can scavenger hunt on the aisle in front of them. Make it a game of fun and celebrate each accomplishment. Whoop and holler as each kid brings in his or her treasures.

More tips

What worked best for me was to make up a list each week and let everyone sign up for what they wanted to do. That included me. I’d much rather be raking the grass than sorting socks.

During the week each person’s job had to be done before bedtime. On Saturday, they could choose when to do their jobs. My son liked to get his stuff done early while my daughter did better later in the day. Allow your kids to make their own decisions on what works best for them. (A life skill many kids don’t get to develop early on.)

Make sure everyone has a “responsibility” even the youngest of children. Even two and three year olds can learn to put their own clothes away. Make a game of sorting socks, underwear, shorts and shirts and where the items are stored. Believe it or not, toddlers like to help and they can learn to fold things like washcloths. They like being a member of the working team.

I always disliked the term “chore” so I used “responsibility” in our home. Choose whatever term works best for your home.

What doesn’t work is to try and reward each kid with stickers or other rewards. The child should be doing the job because he or she is contributing to the family not trying to get a reward. When they ask what they get, tell them they get the pleasure of living in your home. (smile)

Take a picture

Another tip is to work and get each room cleaned and things put away the way you want them. Then take a picture of it. Whether it’s the dishes in the kitchen cabinets, the storage under the bathroom sink, the living room or their bedrooms, get a picture. Post the picture in a prominent place. This gives them a visual of what things should look like when they are done.

Teaching them the right way

At first it might seem like more work, not less, to teach your kids how to do things. Even so, in the long run it can be a relationship builder– and they really can help with some of the load you are carrying. The key is “teaching” them what to do and how to do it.

When my son was eight and my daughter twelve I took them into the laundry room and I said, “Today you are going to learn how to do your own laundry. This is a washing machine and this is a dryer. Here is what you do

  1. Sort your clothes by colors
  2. Put in like colors in the washing machine together
  3. Pour in one cup of detergent
  4. Turn on washer like this
  5. Blah, blah, blah

From that day forward I no longer was responsible for their laundry. I had to cringe several times when one of them wore something that was supposed to be white but was pink because it wasn’t washed correctly. Or when they walked out of the house with wet clothes on because they forgot to put their things in the dryer the night before.

Now my daughter has her own children doing their laundry. Even the six year old does all of his laundry. Last time I visited them, he had to show me how to work the washing machine and the new dryer.

Some younger children get overwhelmed with all the stuff!

My own young three-year-old grandson was like that. I lived in their home while my daughter was deployed to Afghanistan. I would help him clean his room but in a couple of days it was a mess again.

My daughter had buckets and bins marked where toys were to be stored. He knew where things went. One night I explained that anything left on the floor the next morning after he went to preschool would be put in a bag and placed in the closet. The next morning there were a few items put away but still one could hardly walk through the room.

I got busy and bagged up everything on the floor. When he came home that evening instead of being upset about it he was excited. He kept twirling around and saying, “Wook, wook, it’s cwean. My woom is cwean!”

It was then that it dawned on me his little three-year-old mind wasn’t big enough to handle so much clutter. I explained if he wanted something out of the closet he would have to find another toy to trade. It was a win-win for everyone.

When you give your kids an opportunity to have a “cwean woom” you get a break too. So take up this summer challenge to get everyone in the family involved in keeping the home front in order.


Here is a great guide for age appropriate chores for kids

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