8 Chores Your Teen Should Be Doing (Without You Nagging Them)

You'll be doing your teen a huge favor by not letting them off the hook

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 8 Chores Your Teen Should Be Doing (Without You Nagging Them)

When my kids were toddlers, I had one of those colorful chore charts on the fridge. When they picked up their toys, put their clothes in the hamper or brought their plate to the sink, they got a big gold star on the chart – and they loved it! Fast forward a few years and now that my kids are older, I feel like I  need one of those chore charts again. 

Suddenly, and without warning, my kids have become… well, slobs. I’m constantly reminding them to pick up their wet towels, clean their rooms and at least try to get their dirty clothes remotely close to the hamper.

Getting teens to do chores around the house can be like pulling teeth. I know, I know… in our teens’ defense, they’re busy. With school, studying, extracurriculars, a job or internship, college prep, and keeping up with their social life and family obligations, it’s hard to squeeze in time for much of anything else.

Still… our kids enjoy all the comforts of living under our roof. And, we’re not doing them any favors or helping prepare them for adulthood if we don’t assign them at least a few “regular” chores. You know… chores they need to do without us constantly reminding or nagging them. 

Here are 8 chores your teen should be doing without you nagging them every step of the way.  (That’s not to say you won’t be tossing out other chores occasionally like asking them to help clean out the garage, mow the lawn, or rake leaves.)

8 Chores Your Teen Should Be Doing (Without You Nagging Them)

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1. Cleaning Their Bedroom

Of all the chores your teen should be doing, this one tops the list. “My teen’s bedroom is on the verge of becoming a verifiable biohazard and he doesn’t seem to care.” “You can’t even see the floor in my daughter’s bedroom – it’s a disaster.” Sound familiar? Rare is the teenager who keeps a neat bedroom (lucky you if your teen does)! Sure, it’s their space and they should have some say in how clean or messy it is. So, instead, opt for a compromise. Shoot for the once-a-week rule (or every two weeks if you can stand it) – just enough so you don’t have to call in the health department.

Once a week or so, have them pile dirty clothes in the hamper, put clothes away, change their sheets, run the vacuum if it needs it, dust the dressers, and bring all the dirty cups, bowls and plates they’ve been hoarding to the kitchen. It doesn’t have to be perfect… remember, your idea of clean and your teen’s idea of clean shall never meet! 

2. Cleaning Their Bathroom

The same goes for the bathroom. Whether your teen is fortunate enough to have their own bathroom or shares one with siblings, they’re old enough to wipe down the sinks, clean the toilet (we all know how gross toilets get with teens – especially boys!), sweep up hair on the floor, give the shower or tub a quick scrub and switch out the dirty towels for clean ones. 

In my house, the bathroom is always the chore my kids dread the most. To make it easier, I keep cleaning supplies within arm’s reach. Wet wipes are great for a quick sink cleaning or getting hair up from the floor. I also keep foaming bathroom cleaner in the shower stall – I figure they’re in the shower for 20 minutes anyway. They can spend two minutes giving the shower a quick cleaning. (Heads up, there’s a good chance they’ll avoid cleaning the toilet at all costs!)

3. Taking Out the Trash

Teenagers will walk past an overflowing trash can and not give it a second thought. Worse yet, they’ll balance their Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets box delicately on top of a jam-packed trash can in hopes it won’t topple before ever thinking, “Hey, this thing is full MAYBE I should empty it!?” 

That’s why this chore might take some time to sink into their head. But with a little prodding and reminding (don’t nag… they’ll just ignore you) they’ll eventually get the hang of it. 

4. Taking Care of Pets

Chances are your kids are the ones who talked you into that cute little puppy or that adorable sweet kitten, so it only makes sense that they should help with their care. Let your teen be in charge of feeding the pet(s) before school, taking the dog for a quick walk after school or changing the kitty litter.

Because of their busy, ever-changing schedule, they might not be able to help out with the pets all the time but get them in the habit of pitching in when life isn’t quite so hectic – you need the break!

5. Taking Groceries Out of the Car & Helping Put Them Away

My kids are quick to help me make our weekly grocery list, “Mom, don’t forget to buy my favorite protein bars.” “Mom, I need vitamin water for school… don’t forget!” and then, they’re notorious for disappearing into the abyss when it comes time to take them out of the car or put them away… until that is, I put my foot down. 

I’m spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars a week to keep the endless supply of food flowing for my always-hungry teens. The least they can do is help take the groceries out of the car and put them away. 

6. Doing Their Own Laundry

I actually don’t mind doing my kid’s laundry providing they bring their dirty clothes to the laundry room. Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t make my kids do their own laundry from time to time so they at least know how. I definitely don’t want to send them into the world or off to college clueless about how to run a washing machine. 

What I do expect is that they fold their own clothes and put their clean clothes away, which means actually putting them in their dresser or hanging them up and not stacking them on the dresser for two months. 

7. Making Their Own Lunch for School

If my kids are deep in the throes of homework, finals, tournaments or playoffs, I let them off the hook on this chore and surprise them with a great lunch. But, more often than not, they make their own lunch. Learning how to make a healthy lunch, whip themselves up a quick breakfast or even make dinner for themselves isn’t just a chore they should be doing, it’s a life skill. Trust me on this one, you’ll be doing your teen a huge favor if you help them get comfortable around the kitchen. 

8. Helping Keep the Kitchen Clean

I’ll go to bed with a clean kitchen and wake up to a kitchen that looks like a bunch of raccoons spent hours scavenging for food. Crumbs on the floor, a pile of dishes in the sink, open cereal boxes on the counter, an unidentifiable spilled substance on the counter – my teenagers are messy! Rather than cleaning up after them left and right, I make them clean up after themselves. It’s not “my kitchen,” it’s their kitchen, too, and they should be responsible for helping to keep it clean. 

Whether they clean up after making themselves a midnight snack, sweep up the crumbs on the floor, wipe down the counters or jump in to help load and empty the dishwasher, we need to pass some of the kitchen duty over to our teens. 

Heads up, parents, you can’t do it all. You’ll wear yourself out trying! Stop trying to be super mom (or dad) and enlist the help of your kids to take over key responsibilities in the house.

Even if it takes time to get them into the habit of doing certain chores, not only will you thank yourself in the long run, you’ll be teaching your teen important lessons they’ll carry with them throughout life.

If you need a few great ideas on how to get your teen to help around the house, check out this post:

Chore Wars: 6 “No-Nag” Ways to Get Your Teen to Help Around the House

TRY THIS, TOO! A “No-Nag” To-Do List!

Let’s face it, teenagers don’t like being told what to do and they really don’t like it when we constantly remind them or, worse, nag them about, well… anything. Our big kids are craving more independence and they want to be in control of their own schedules. Take it from a mom who’s been there, the last thing our kids want or need is us constantly telling them what to do and when to do it. 

That’s why a “Mom’s No-Nag To-Do List” works wonders!

Rather than wearing yourself out (and your teen), write down everything your teen needs to do or know – their priorities for the day, chores you need them to tackle – even things about school, reminders, appointments, etc. all in one place so you don’t have to waste the precious time you have with your teen before they fly the coop harping on them about cleaning their bedroom, vacuuming the living room or taking out the trash.

You can even add “complete by” and/or consequences in the notes section (i.e., “Heads up… if I can’t see your bedroom floor by Friday, you won’t be hanging with friends”) and a sweet love note from mom because our kids need to hear “I love you” a lot! ORDER IT on AMAZON HERE!

Chore Wars: 6 “No-Nag” Ways to Get Your Teen to Help Around the House

If you enjoyed reading, “8 Chores Your Teen Should Be Doing (Without You Nagging Them),” check out this post, too!

Help Your Teen Learn to Adult: 20 Life Skills They Need

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