After Dinner Clean-Up

Growing up, my two sisters and I had dinner jobs. One of us was the dinner helper, which was my favorite job. This involved setting the table, stirring pots, making salad, etc. Typically the easy stuff. One of us washed the dishes, while the third dried and put away. Everyone in the family cleared dishes and put away food. While we were doing the after dinner clean-up, our mom was giving little siblings baths.

Fast forward to a couple months ago, and I wondered why I was always the last (and only) one in the kitchen at the end of the evening. It was taking me almost as much time to clear, wash and dry as it did to make dinner!

After silently complaining and stewing, I realized  I needed to implement these specific chores into my bigger kids’ lives. After all, they are old enough to do some dishes. So we now have dinner-time chores, and I love


  • I still make dinner, for the most part, on my own. I like doing it by myself, because I don’t have to explain or show anyone how to do something. I do sometimes have helpers, though. I’m trying to relax the reins. Also, my big kids set the table right before we sit down. It takes less than five minutes and we can sit.


  • Someone clears the table. Everyone clears their own plates, silverware and cups, but then one child comes along and their job is to clear the serving dishes and put away any leftovers, make sure cloth napkins make it to the laundry room, and sweep around and under the table. They also wipe down the table and push the chairs in.


  • Someone else washes the dishes. This is, by far, the hardest job, but all three of my kids fight to do this one. Maybe because it involves soap and water? I have no idea. I usually help by carefully stacking any pots and pans they need to wash by the sink, so nothing gets missed.


  • The last person dries and puts away the dishes the first person washed. They also have to wipe down the kitchen counters and sweep in the kitchen. I would have to say this is the easiest job, but it’s one of the least favorite because they can’t be finished until the washer is done.


Since implementing these new chores, my evening has gotten immeasurably better. The big kids can now do these chores on their own, with pretty good  success. Some evenings it takes them longer, because they are fooling around, but that’s not my business. It just means shorter time for everything else that evening. But I can help my husband bathe the little girls,  or read them books, or talk to my hubby…possibilities are endless! (Especially now that I’ve put down the phone!)

I’ve put together a handy chore chart if you want to start getting your kids involved in helping at dinner time! It’s got everything they need to do in order to do a good job. No  more telling me that they “didn’t know they were supposed to do that!” 

The chore chart is a little different than what is mentioned above, because I noticed that three in the kitchen can sometimes lead to loud arguments or goofing off. So now, one child helps with dinner while the other two clear and wash. But use what works for your family!

What chores do your kids do in the evenings, if any? Let me know in the comments!


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