For years I’ve talked about the importance of age appropriate chores for kids. It took me a while to realize that I couldn’t do it all and I needed my kids to pick up after themselves and help out.
After I realized that my kids were capable of doing chores at a very young age, I implemented daily and weekly chores in our home. Vital to our success was assigning age appropriate chores to each child.
Age Appropriate Chores for Kids
Reader Nikki asks….
Can you write posts about each age – what you have them do total? I am not naturally organized, so this would help me implement gradually.
Only you know what chores your child can do.
When it comes to chores, I’ve always believed it has more to do with ability than age. Some of my children were ready to use the stove at eight or nine. Others needed more time to mature. Only you know what your child is capable of doing when it comes to chores.
Remember to keep in mind your child’s age, ability, and maturity when assigning chores around the house. Most importantly, young children need supervision while doing age appropriate chores for two reasons.
First, you want to make sure they are learning the correct way to do each chore. Second you want to make sure they are not doing anything that could harm them or the house.
Finally, don’t mistake laziness for inability. I’ve found that the earlier you give your child age appropriate chores the more they can do at a younger age. Most children are very capable, you just need to motivate them.
I’m sharing with your our family’s chore list. Remember, because the two-year old can do the chores on the list doesn’t mean she does all the chores on the list. I use the list as a guide when it comes to assigning chores. Each child does one to two age appropriate chores each day depending on the size of the job.
Toddler Chores (ages 2 and 3)
Toddlers LOVE to help around the house. A mistake parents often make is to not let their littlest children help. At this age, kids don’t even think of it as work, it’s a reward! A child who gets in the habit of helping at such a young age will be more willing to help as they get older.
- Pick up/ put away toys
- Unload the dishwasher (silverware, plastic cups, tupperware)
- Dust with a feather duster or microfiber rag
- Swiffer the floor
- Put clothes in the dirty clothes hamper
- Collect dirty clothes
- Help get clothes from washer to dryer
- Put clothes away
- Make bed (put pillows and blankets on the bed, not bootcamp style)
- Wipe cabinets
- Wipe baseboards (soapy water)
Preschool Chores (ages 4-5)
Preschool children love charts and stickers. This is a great age to reward your children for helping with a sticker chart. Some preschoolers have better gross motor skills than others so just because one of your children could vacuum at age 5 doesn’t mean they all can.
- Any toddler chores
- Load the dishwasher
- Vacuum couch/ chairs/ cushions
- Take out recycling
- Set table
- Clear table
- Wash dishes (with supervision)
- Clean windows
- Wipe out bathroom sinks (baby wipes work great for this chore!)
- Match socks
- Fold dish towels
Early Elementary (ages 6-8)
At this age children are more likely to resist doing chores than at the earlier ages. We use to have a rule that there was no TV or video games until the jobs were done. This quickly motivated my elementary aged children to get their chores out of the way first.
- Any toddler and preschool chores
- Meal prep (wash produce, find ingredients, simple cutting with butter knife)
- Wipe bathroom sinks, counters, toilets
- Hang laundry
- Collect garbage
- Get mail
- Fold/hang laundry
- Clean microwave
- Rake leaves
If you haven’t implemented chores up until this point, you might be met with some resistance. Kids heading into the tween years might be upset that you are asking them to do more than they are use to doing.
This is when you need to remember that you are the parent and you are in charge. Kids are not harmed when they contribute to the household by helping.
If your child is involved in a lot of after school activities or has advanced classes limit weekly chores, but assign them several chores over the weekend.
- Any previous chores
- Make meals
- Take garbage/ recycling to the curb
- Wash/ dry clothes
- Clean toilets
- Mop floors
- Vacuum out cars
Middle School (12-14)
Middle schoolers are fun, aren’t they. Even kids who have been helping with chores for years can start to revolt during these years. Kids this age have a lot going on socially and personally. Even if your child is extremely busy (or moody) it’s important to give them some household responsibilities.
They will benefit and their significant other will thank you because they know how to clean a toilet and make a simple meal before they leave home.
- Clean tub/ shower
- Make full meals/ meal plan
- Clean out fridge/ freezer
- Mow yard
- Wash car
- Supervise younger children’s chores
High School (15-18)
Hopefully by the time children reach high school age they have the ability to do all age appropriate chores around the house. While they don’t do everything I know they are capable in all areas of home management.
My three adult children grew up regularly doing chores. While they may not love to do them, they are able to.
When to move a child to the next chore category
Ultimately, when a child becomes proficient at a chore it is time to pass that chore to a younger child. I take the lowest common denominator approach to chores in our house.
This means the youngest child who is able to do the chore gets the job. Remember to always supervise your child when they are learning how to complete a chore for the first time.
While our family isn’t perfect when it comes to chores, my kids are encouraged to work together to keep the house clean and organized.
My only regret is that I wish I would have given my kids age appropriate chores when they were younger. When I only had two young children it was easier to just do it all myself. Not anymore. Having kids that can help around the house keeps the house cleaner and frees up more time for fun activities as a family.
Finally, remember to keep it fun! Most little children WANT to help out around the house. Assigning small chores like the ones listed above allow your kids to feel like a contributing member of the family.
Put on some fun music, sing a favorite song (we use to sing the Clean Up song from Barney when my kids were younger) and work together to make it enjoyable for everyone in the family.
Ultimate Home Checklist (designed for adults but most of the chores can be done by kids)
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Magnetic Responsibility Chart
Magnetic Dry Erase Rewards Chore Chart with Marker and Magnets
Barefeet In The Kitchen says
I think that this is a huge mistake so many people make:
Finally don’t mistake laziness for inability. I’ve found that the earlier you give your child ownership of chores the more they can do at a younger age. Most children are very capable you just need to motivate them.
I already copied your list and I’m planning to implement a few new things around my own house next week. Thank you so much. Your timing is perfect!!!
Thank you for the wonderful ideas! I am using this summer to get our chores under control, we have had a crazy 2 years with health issues and two moves and while we did some things to get the children going I wanted to be much more intentional. This is very helpful!
Actually – reading through this again I am surprised how similar your list is to what I have taught our children – such encouragement!
I am so glad someone else understands the importance of early training!! Thanks for the post!! I could NOT agree more!!
I loved reading this my daughter who is only 17 months loves to help me clean. While I vacum, I’ll let her use the little shark to help. She helps dust and doing laundry. She love to help me sort and put in and take out of the washer and dryer.
Thank you for this list! I have a special needs son and I’m afraid I’ve been slacking in teaching him several things he could be doing. This helps more than you know.
I’m encouraged, as well. Our family follows your recommendations pretty closely. I might add, though, we add diaper changing to our 6-7 year olds responsibilities as well. 🙂 Oh – and watering the indoor plants starts around age 4. 🙂
I don’t have any plants… (well any that I can keep alive!) That’s a great one to add.
I know this is an older post, so I don’t know if you will see this, but try succulents for plants. They are a non-pokey cactus, think Aloe, and are hard to kill. Some even have flowers.
Kelli @ Life in a Barn says
Thank you so much for this post. Not sure if you answered me or another person. I remember asking you this a few months ago. I am going to try some of these with my kids. I have known for a while they could probably so some of the chores around the house, but just have not taken the time and or been hesitant to do so. Well, here we go. Lots of luck and determination to me…
Thanks for sharing! I know I’ve definitely made the mistake of mistaking laziness for inability. I will definitely be going through the kids’ chores and trying the lowest common denominator idea!
Tara Monrose says
I use a program on myjobchart.com it is free and you can customize it for all your kids or even add one for your spouse and yourself. You determine the rewards for chores done and you can teach your kids to save and also give to charitable organizations. My 15 year old really loves this system, she is very organized and likes to have a list to go by every day. Where as my 16 yr old son would rather me tell him what to do as I need him to do it. I say do what works for you and your family, every child is different.
Thank you for this post! Awesome ideas!
The only thing I don’t agree with is the age for loading dishes. My four year old is tall but she would not be able to load a dishwasher without using a chair. I also would not want her handling my knives. The rest of the chores seemed about right. I also think that unless you have a special needs child children should be able to do chores. You may have to work with them more but they still need to do them. Also, in the 1800s it was common that little girls could sew (very well) by the age of 5… and I think that as an American Society we tend to hold our kids back.
Simple rule in my house. If Mom is not sitting then you should be either. The house is everyone’s responsibility and too many parents try to “protect” their kids from life…. Start them now and they will grown up not knowing any difference.. ;)… My 21,20, 18 yr old are all on their own and do not ask for help, or money…I think it is because they know if they are on their own it is a statement that your an adult. OR….. Maybe they know mom is broke.. 🙂
I hand wash knives so that isn’t an issue in my house. I wouldn’t want young children loading knives in the dishwasher. Definitely dangerous.
That is a smart move too ;)… My looked at my girl and she really is tall for her age. I don’t think that she could load or unload without a step stool. I am very much waiting for that day to come…. 😉 lol… Trust me.. 😉 haha
This is a great post! Watching my 16 month old I amazed both at how helpful she wants to be, and how quickly she is gaining competence. Certainly as the eldest of 9 i was quite capable at an early age. I am really inspired to make sure my kids are helpful and ideally happy about it.
Wow! This is helpful.
Any ideas for those of us who messed up and didn’t start chores early enough on how to motivate the kid(s) to do them? My daughter is 6.5, and while in theory she’s supposed to pick up her toys and put them away (and that’s very much in theory, sadly), her only assigned job is unloading the dishwasher’s silverware tray. (Everything else in the dishwasher is up too high for her to do despite her being tall for her age.) And oh, my goodness, she acts so put upon when told there’s silverware to put away!
Funny you posted this today. My daughter is homeschooled and she read a book to me. In the book two little girls received chore money. My daughter said “what? Kids don’t get money for chores.” I laughed. I pointed to the picture and said “Who do you think bought these pretty beds, the sheets, pillows, and bedding?” She said “Their mommy and daddy” I then asked her if “she” thinks they should get money for taking care of something that was bought for them. She said no. lol. Six is not too old. Just explain to her that she lives in a house. She is a member of the family and everyone contributes to making the house run smoothly. It is not fair to expect others to carry the bulk of work and someone else constantly receive benefit from others work. When it came to toys, if I had to pick it up I put it in a bag and it did not come out again for about a month. If they had no toys that would be their choice. At six she will get the point pretty quickly. I have adult kids and younger kids. They all know me. I will tell them once and make sure they understand what I am saying. Laundry day, all pitch in. If someone can’t pick their clothes up and I hope they like wearing dirty clothes. lol. She is young, with a little creative thinking you can get your point across. One more story…lol… when my 21yr old was 8 I had to explain three different times something I needed her to do . She was not paying attention and in truth had quite the attitude. At the end when she finished her assignment I stated that I had to take an extra 30 minutes of my day explaining to her because she did not pay attention. I also told her that I could not get that time back and how important time really is to a mom of several kids. I then went to my chore list and said “Bathroom, you get to clean the bathroom”. It takes me 30 minutes of my time and now it is your chore. ;)… Hope this helps some 😉
Then it is time her chores should multiply.
Add to that, set the table for supper;
sweep kitchen floor and shine kitchen sink.
I’ve raised three kids this way – 24, 18, and 14 now.
The only thing we did differently was teaching each stage of cooking skills an age younger, and as for the dishwasher – well, I solved that by moving the dishes to the lower cupboards,lol!
Sounds silly, but if the 4 yo is unloading and putting away, as well as setting the table ?
I love this list! I was a nanny for two middle-school age children a few years ago and it amazed me how little they knew how to do around the house. Neither child knew how to work the family vacuum, dishwasher, stove, etc. Needless to say, after a few days the kids were right alongside me helping. They even would fight over who got to do which chores and chose favorites. Their parents were amazed at the progress, and I was amazed that they hadn’t started earlier. What a disservice for them to be so naive to ordinary tasks that would eventually be essential to managing their own homes/lives! My little girl will certainly be well-equipped to help around the house at a young age and when she leaves for college I can be confident that she will not be calling me in tears to solve her laundry problems!
Great list! I have two boys, 8 and 2, and I’ve been trying to get a chores list together for them. This will help me greatly!
DMC…. I let my 3 y/o unload the dishwasher. I just pull out the sharps/breakables quickly beforehand. She likes to help. My 9 year old on the other hand….
Generally sounds right, although I have a couple little beefs, like mine started sorting recycling and taking out trash when he was 3, and cleaning bathroom fixtures when he was 6. I’d say maki g beds starts later. But overall I think these are on the mark, and you do say to fit chores to kids’ aptitudes.
A warning to parents of toddlers/preschoolers who love to help–that goes away! Eventually they know how to do things, they are more independent a d want to do their own stuff. That’s when the addition step comes in of making it clear that chores aren’t just for fun or something to be paid for–they’re part of te effort that’s required of every responsible person, no one gets paid to wipe their own mouth, and not everything worthwhile is fun. I have been known, on occasion, to let my son’s chores pile up for a few days. When he eventually has to tackle them, he really sees the value of keeping up on a regular basis!
Sarah @ ActivityHero says
Great post, thank you very much!
Ok, so I have an 14 and an 11 year old. They are horrible at picking up after themselves. I have always done all the cleaning and still do. I tried a couple of years ago to have them do chores. I have written them down on index cards on the weekends and told them this is what you have to do. The chores were the same every weekend. You would think that they would catch on…Nope! I then put together a spreadsheet of things they needed to do daily and what they needed to do on the weekends. It was not working. I know my first mistake is that I’ve always done everything for them. They are now old enough to be able to do certain things; clean bathroom, clean bedroom, keep things picked up after them. My son will get a snack and leave the wrapper on the counter right above the trash can…Really!! I mean what can I do? I get so frustrated…
They are just stuck in their ways now, but you can still mold them. If you take everything away from them until they have them until they have done their chores. Don’t call it a punishment because then they’ll freak out;). If you want them to do chores on the weekend then on Saturday morning they shouldn’t be allowed to watch tv, play games, read books, talk on phone, etc. until zthe list is done. Now this is going to take a few weeks for them to accept, but you have to stick to it and this means ignoring all the complaining and begging:/. But they will adjust, you just have to enforce this new rule. You can also do it daily as well
Been there, done that... says
I made the same mistake with my son and believe me I paid for it for years. However, I quickly learned to turn the table.
This may sound harsh and it is but it will get their attention. I took everything from my son’s room except his bed, dresser, necessary clothing and the blinds on the windows. I even removed the door of his room because teenagers value privacy. Everything. I then created a chart of chores/homework/manners and assigned an item that would be returned based on the value of the chore, etc. For instance, after my son learned to stop leaving candy wrappers laying around, he earned back his favorite sweatshirt. When he properly, cleaned his bathroom, he earned an agreed upon amount of video game time (not in his bedroom). By the way, when removing everything from their bedroom don’t just relocate games, toys, or whatever the item is to another room for them to use all the time as they must earn it. Within two weeks, my son had earned back his posters, his favorite clothing items, his Gameboy, his ipod, his cell phone, his TV, etc. If he backslid he lost a high value item until corrected.
Bottom line: If they place a value on an item whether tangible or intangible, it became my currency and they were willing to pay any price to regain it.
Hope this works.
When my daughter was this age she started to pout about cleaning as well. And she’s 8 now and still does, but just knows it has to be done. A reward system would really motivate her. Just tiny rewards. For example, if she does 10 chores she’d get a reward. And by rewards I’m talking about 10-25 cent stuff. My daughter now gets one star a day if she does all her chores, has a good attitude all day. And when she gets 5 stars she get the same kind of prize. She really likes getting to make the stars on her chart and loves counting the days until she gets a prize. And the days when she doesnt get a prize she is up set, but more determined the next day. She does a lot, probably all of this list for her age, maybe some more. Sometimes she loves doing it and other days she complains, but I make her do it no matter what and tel her how proud and grateful I am that she is taking so much care.
While my 7 year old doesn’t like it unless we are doing it WITH him, he cleans his room, and the living room after he and his sister have demolished it…as well as puts his own laundry away (includes hanging up everything) BUT the best is that my 18 month old will help now too..she puts her own diaper in the trash…I didn’t teach her she just saw that’s where it went and started doing it, now If one gets left for a few minutes on the couch or table because I’m busy or something she’ll snatch it and put it in the trash…she will also go put her dirty clothes in the hamper…and she LOVES to wipe things down/clean them with baby wipes..Now to keep her from pulling everything out and making her brother’s jobs harder and we’ll be all good!
Never too young to start them learning how to care for themselves and a home…Love this I’m going to keep it in mind when it comes time to add a few things to her chore list…..
Bridget @ Le. Rheims says
So true! I was just telling my husband that, by the age of 14, I was capable of doing basically every chore needed to maintain a home. You know why? Because my mom made sure we learned them starting at an early age. It was just expected of us all and that is how I want my kids to see it too. Thanks for the great, well organized list!
I just found that list via Pinterest and I’m quite shocked; in my country, your list would be seen as slavery, your children are not your domestic workers. When I was young, most of these chores were done by my parents or cleaners, certainly not by children; now I’m an adult and I pay people for chores – that’s their job.
When I was young, I spent my time studying a lot, especially foreign languages (English is now my sixth language after Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian and Russian), worked hard (never missed a day of school nor university), got a great job and money, but it seems for you children who don’t do chores are lazy people and this is cliché. Why should they do all these chores? To become responsible? I’m responsible. There are miscellaneous methods to teach a child to become responsible, mature or whatever and in my opinion, it is certainly not taking him/her for a mini-housekeeper.
All I can say is right on so totally agree. My oldest is 25 and very responsible as well and he graduating from a masters degree at college and I didn’t make him do all these petty chores and look where he is at today, so to say your child is going to be a better responsible person is nonsense. All it makes you as a parent is lazy yourself and maybe you should practice what you preach.
All I can say is, I respect your thoughts and opinions but I have to disagree with you. These chores are not slavery, it is teaching your child to help out and to clean up after themselves. Paying people to clean the mess that YOU made to begin with is pure laziness, and although some people may take it too far by forcing their children to clean the entire house alone, it does so much good for the child to learn to cooperate as well as be respectful and organized .. not to mention clean.
Kate Rodgers says
I do not think that paying someone to clean your house is lazy. You do not know everyone’s circumstances. Some people work very long hours and do not necessarily have the time to thoroughly clean their houses. I myself am in this situation and having someone come in and clean my house top-to-bottom once a week is a god-send. That being said, I’m not saying I completely disagree with your method. I do believe kids should learn to contribute to the household in what ways they can and I think it’s valuable to learn to take care of oneself. I expect my kids to clean up after themselves, help out when necessary/when asked and appreciate the things we/others do for/provide them. I do not think, however, that long lists of chores are necessary to have your child grow up to be responsible. I think a kid’s main job is school, sports and learning to be a kind and conscientious person.
Karih, my girls would agree with you 100% that expecting children to do chores = slavery. However, I am ashamed that I have either picked up after them or relied on our cleaning woman. Mainly it was because I worked, and felt that the girls were busy enough in school & day care. Now my girls, esp my older one, feel entitled to have everyone clean up after them. I hope it finally sank in last night when my 12 year old & I went to the mall with our friends, and my daughter couldn’t buy anything because she’d failed to earn any chore money.
Love this. I’m definitely going to use this guide with my 10, 5 & 3 year old!
Absolutely! I was doing these chores at that age and boy do I appreciate my parents for it now!
jo hutson says
I noticed a lot of references to “she”, “her ” and “my daughter”. It is just as important that boys do chores around the house now that women are expected to work outside of the home.
I love this! My step-daughter who is 12 is extremely way behind b/c we only have her on the weekend and for me to teach her this she’d be “choring” all weekend. I’m guessing she must not be taught elsewhere. So I hope I can get most of it before she gets out on her own. Otherwise, my 2 YO is right on track, except the unload dishwasher b/c we don’t have one and he cant reach my drain board, or make his bed b/c he’s still in a crib…lol! But he’ll do it one day!
Well I have seven boys and my house is neat and organized also and my boys do help with the chores as well, but they aren’t my personal maids and they still are capable in all areas of home management without this crazy approach to having your kids do everything for a capable parent.Let your kids be kids while they can because they have more time to be an adult and less time to be a kid.I understand having your kids help out around the house and give them responsibility but not to this extent and if you take the approach to the lowest common denominator in your home then when the youngest gets older and is capable of taking on the chore then pretty soon your youngest gets stuck with all the chores and how fair is this to that child.
I have worked with kids for years. ages birth-12. No 2 year old can unload a dishwasher unless you have turned them into a robot. Also, a 4 year old vacuuming couch cushions? they shouldn’t have to worry about something like that. I agree with teaching kids independent living skills, but not that young. Wait until they can at least grasp the concept of what is going on. Its one thing to have them help out once in a while. for example “Here, put this away so that we can use it next time” giving them a clear reason. But this list is a little harsh.
I have an 8, 6, and 2 yr old..My kids all still LOVE to look at their little chore charts and get to their tasks. They don’t feel like they are missing out on being a kid…they feel like they are putting in their effort in taking care of our home and well if it’s presented to them right they find pride in what they do. You have to base your chores to each child.
My 2 year old LOVES to help me with the dish washer. My son begged me for hours to vacuum the downstairs yesterday and was annoyed that he had to wait for his sister to wake up from her nap. My 6 year old loves dusting. They all love helping me get the table ready for meals and also help sweep and prepare food.
The only chores they are expected to do is for my older two, keep their rooms tidy, make sure to put dirty laundry in their hampers and fold and put away when cleaned, ( they love to put the cloths in the washer and dryer) and clean their bathrooms. They might not do it perfectly but they are learning. My two year old is expected to put her things away before nap time and before bed time…
It is not awful to teach your kids how to be a team, how to work together, how to be caring and helpful….Sure there are lazy awful parents that take things too far…but that is true with anything you will ever come across..There is a healthy balance in everything we do…including teaching our kids how to keep a clean healthy home. Also especially when it comes to kids, Love patience and respect for them are the Key to getting them to want to help out…it’s all how you approach the situation.
My 8 year old has a lot of set backs including, Autistic, ADHD, OCD, and ODD and yet he still is able to do what is asked most of the time with a good attitude, And guess what!! They still have plenty of time during the day for just hanging out play time!!
this is an awesome beakdown. i started the youngest with chores at age 2(he’s 5.5 now). your list validates for me what i “thought” were acceptable requests for the age. he also feeds and waters the dog. by the way, we do not give allowance for doing chores(what is expected). thank you again for the support!
MY 16 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER CAME BACK TO LIVE WITH ME AFTER BEING WITH HER FATHER FOR THE PAST NINE YEARS. WHILE SHE LIVED WITH HIM, HE FOUND IT EASIER TO KEEP HER IN HER ROOM WHILE SHE WAS HOME AND NOT GIVE HER ANY CHORES OR RESPONSIBILITIES. NOW SHE IS LIVING WITH ME AND I NEED HER TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HER OWN BELONGINGS, HER OWN BEDROOM, AND SOME OF THE HOUSEHOLD CHORES. MY PROBLEM IS THAT I DO NOT WANT TO START TO STRONG BUT, I DO NOT WANT T MAKE HER FEEL SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO PULL HER WEIGHT. CAN YOU ADVISE ME ON HOW I CAN ACCOMPLISH MY GOALS IN A REASONABLE WAY THAT WILL BE FAIR TO EVERYONE INVOLVED? SHE IS THE ONLY CHILD AT HOME WITH ME AND HER STEPFATHER.
I agree that children ought to contribute to the upkeep of the household, but not that they should have to do everything labor-intensive. (For instance, why is a toddler wiping the baseboards? That’s just strange.) Don’t forget that they have other roles that are more important, like being children and being students. I’ve had friends who were responsible for a large part of maintenance/cooking/laundry at their homes, and they sounded like the actual parents of their families. These kids didn’t have time to play sports, do homework, work at their actual jobs, and spend time with friends, etc. all at once, so one (or more) would fall by the wayside. It was sad to watch, just because their parents thought that they could dump everything on their kids…all in the name of “discipline” “learning responsibility.” Part of being a kid is a lack of responsibility—believe me, they’ll learn it eventually. That doesn’t mean that you have to make them your housekeepers.
Reading through these comments I’ve been quite surprised at how many people equate kids doing chores with parents making them robotic housekeepers. I remember vacuuming the dining room rug when I was 8…it was fun! My sister and I shared the responsibility of doing the dishes each evening, she had odd days I did even days. When we were in high school the Saturday housecleaning was divided up and we all did our part. Mom was NEVER sitting idle while we did the work, all 3 of us worked together and got the cleaning done so we could do fun things as a family. We always had plenty of time to “be kids” and we never missed out on activities. If we wanted to do something Saturday, we knew we had to make sure our chores were done by Friday night. Now, my 2 year old enjoys helping me unload the dishwasher, put away his clothes, and load the dryer. He is HELPING me, he’s not doing it all by himself. Yes, I’m sure a chore system can be abused, just as any other type of system. As a young mom with 2 kids under 2, I’m very thankful my mom taught me how to manage a home without having to give me a crash course before I moved out. I was even able to earn money cleaning houses through high school and college because of this training. There are many ways to raise responsible children, and being responsible for a set list of chores is simply one way. If you want to do it all yourself, go for it. Your kids certainly won’t mind. And hopefully when they go off to college or move out, they will be in the blessed group of kids who innately know how to run a washing machine and that not everything goes in the dishwasher.
I agree that children shouldn’t be “housekeepers”. But having chores doesn’t mean that they are. I had chores when I was a kid and still do now, because I still live at my parent’s house rent-free. When I was a kid if my chores weren’t done I didn’t get to go play. I don’t think this held me back. I think it taught me duty and responsibility. It was also an incentive. I knew that as soon as my chores were finished I was free to do what I wanted to do.
My parents raise me and my sisters this way. We each had a room other than our bedrooms that we were responsible for. Since I am the oldest I had the kitchen, my middle sister cleaned the living room, and my baby sister cleaned our bathroom. Things have changed some now. I work full-time and go to school so our parents decided to switch things up. Now my middle sister cleans the kitchen, my baby sister cleans the living room, and I clean our bathroom. I’m 23 and almost finished with school so who knows how they’ll handle it when I FINALLY move out. I am very glad that my parents implemented this system with us. It taught us all responsibility and is something I plan on doing with my future children.
Sophie, I couldn’t agree more with what you stated in your comment!
I can only agree on this list and advise that every parent has to learn his or her kids to tag along in household chores, as long as the parents not abuse the kid for it.
Why? Because I grew up in the nineties as a girl who never needed to do anything in the house. Neither did my older sister. Cleaning, cooking, even collecting our toys – it was all taken care of by our mom and maybe our dad. We were raised this ‘lucky’ and carefree. But, at highschool age, we had no idea how to do our laundry, how to cook, or how to clean a toilet, fix a tyre. If I could go back now, I’d be willing to learn it all in one day – no matter it wasn’t fun and free of responsibility. I’m sure my mom wanted the best for us, a carefree youth, no duties, no chores – but keeping a kid away from everything until the day he/she moves out is so not right. Don’t use your kids for your own laziness, but also don’t spoil them in taking every load of their hands. They won’t learn it when you do it! They learn it while they do it. With my stepdaughters, who do chores around the house, I’ve come to realize that kids don’t suffer from doing these things. They won’t have an unhappy childhood from packing the dishwasher now and then, collecting the laundry, or fixing their own tyres. They love to be just like grownups! And they see a game in everything they are put to. They’ll get confident at simple things. This will pay off later on, as they can set their mind to more important things than how to do their household chores. Really, your kids will be kids. They will play and they will enjoy those years. But also they will learn what life is about: the fun, and the responsibilities. Don’t spoil them with a fairytale, and send them off on their 18th with no idea how to run a household!
I have 2 boys aged 4 & 2.5, i feel that i really ned to start teaching them things while they still want to help, I do however find it very hard as their help tends to mean that that the job takes at least twice as long & they do tend to fight over who gets to help/do what. I have a special child safe knife & my 4 year old loves to help prepair things however i am al to often in too much of a rush to be able to let him help. I really need to see the bigger picture, that if i want them to help long term, then i need to get used to it taking longer now whilst they are little!
I agree that kids should help out around the house but I think those chores should not be extensive…toddlers and preschoolers love to help out and unfortunately that desire often wanes as they get older…why is that? All their responsibilities get longer…as a 3 yr old they help out a little around the house but as that child becomes 5, 8, 10 years old they have the added burden of school work, sports, music lessons. While I think it’s important to teach them life skills I think it’s important to balance their responsibilities…let them be kids but teach them responsibility not endless chores
WONDERFUL! ….. and as the quote says ” If you want to keep your children with the feet on the ground, place responsibilities on their shoulders” : )
So I put up my longer post a few posts back and wanted to add something else as I was reading the other posts…During the school year…my kids do have a lot less chores to do..most of what I ask of them takes all of 15-20 mins to finish…During the summer while they are home all day every day the chore chart picks up a bit more because well, there is a lot of time for everyone to help take care of things that have been left unchecked during the very busy school year. Come on guys…there is balance!! When I taught parenting classes I always said that the top 5 things you need most to become a good parent is
3.) reasonable expectations
5.) keep up on all current crazes children might be into such as internet interests, drug/party lingo, and things like the choking game and other dangerous games kids are testing out.
There are a lot of other things of course but these are imo the most important and then I would say at the end of my top 5 list to remember that you are not perfect, and not to be afraid to open your mind to learning new ways of parenting, going outside the box and being creative. Most of all encouraging not demanding. To all of the people afraid of this list and unable to see the creative balance to be had here? I encourage you to open your mind and see the loving approach most of us parents are taking to incorporate these chores into our children s lives. Good luck!
tuny kryger says
OMG thank you for this post people around me give me so much crap because i have my 11 year old daughter do the dishes, garabage, pickup the floor and do her room. she is the oldest of all my children and im constantly fighting with her and the people around me who keep telling me im being unfair.. Im trying to teach responsibility and a sence of accomplishment.. I personally think that there are to many kids out there who control their parents and dont do a dang thing to help themselves or their family.. honestly do we all need to go back to horse and buggy so that the kids learn what true hard work means.. Thank you again for this post im so pleased to have read it. im also putting this article out there on facebook so others can see it and understand what im trying to instill in my own children thank you thank you thankyou
I just scrolled through all these comments and I just want to say, as a 23-year-old who now has a career and a house, I am soooo thankful my parents had me do chores. It’s not child labor, it’s just making a contribution to a team effort – and that’s a skill that will apply throughout life. Obviously, the only way to make that lesson stick is for parents to pitch in just as much or more (my mom never ever sat down – she was always doing something), but I think it helps you understand the value of work and play and how they balance.
Also, I don’t know – maybe some of you who don’t have kids do chores just have naturally thoughtful kids – but in my personal friend experiences and in babysitting, kids who don’t help are typically more selfish and more entitled. They’re the adults who show up to dinner parties empty handed and don’t ask if they can help with something. I’m sure this isn’t the case across the board, but simple thoughtfulness seems pretty correlated to childhood responsibility here in my adult life.
Also, to the few people who think that not giving kids responsibilities as a child doesn’t mean they won’t be a “responsible” (sounds more like successful) adult, you’re right. Plenty of kids I went to school with we’re perfectly smart and successful people, but that is no reflection of character, in my opinion.
Suzanne M says
I believe some people are thinking that the child would be doing ALL the things on the list. This is just a guideline to what chores a child of a certain age MIGHT be able to do. Re-read the fourth paragraph. I personally think a child should do only about a half hours worth of tasks a day. And there are a few things I disagree with. I would never ask a 2 or 3 years old to wipe baseboards with soapy water. ( The mess! ) Or a 9 year old to clean a toilet. But that is my opinion, yours may vary.
My 14 year old is responsible for dishes, wiping down counters, clearing and cleaning the table, taking out the garbage and mowing the lawns. Those are standard….Then we throw in a few miscellaneous chores. My 4 year old I don’t feel is mature enough for a lot of the chores on the list, but we’re getting there! hanks for this guide =)
Oh! And we don’t pay for doing chores. You live in this house, you help keep it tidy. He can do other things aside from his daily chores to earn money.
Impressive!! Your list makes me feel very accomplished as a parent. We have very similar views and getting our children to the self reliance level. Now to encourage a newly 16 year into getting her first job.:)
I have got to say some of these are rediculous! I am 14 and i didn’t have to do many chores growing up, but I have learned everything I needed to. When we cleaned it was a team job of the whole family. If I did chores it was usually doing dishes and taking out trash but I couldn’t do those things when I was 6! I have been a babysitter since I was 9 and I always did what I was tought. You don’t have to do chores from age 2.
I beg to disagree. I won’t go so far as to call it child labor, but the reason I went to college and spend a big chunk of my time studding and taking extra training on my on free time, instead of been at the pup or at the park chilling out with my friends, is to have access to a more fulfilling job that also pays 4 times what the person that does that kinds of jobs makes.
I did all that effort to not have to do awful, unrewarding, unskilled and mindless low paying labor.
My child should play, have fun, and learn while they grow up, not mop the floor.
Been really good at something takes passion, that’s what will keep you at something long enough and hard enough to make a difference. I found mine when I was 5 thanks to my father and grandfather, that though that learning complex skills was far more important that empty, mindless chores, and today I make a living out of it. That’s what I want them doing.
We have 3 boys ages 6, 4, and 7 months. The 6 and 4 year olds don’t want to do anything to help out. We have a new system in our house called “behavior bucks” (aka fake money). If they do certain things(ex: feed both cats) they get a behavior buck. Each Saturday, they get to choose whether they want to trade them in for little things (1=silly band, etc) or they can save them for bigger things (10=$5 toy, etc.) We have been trying to get them to do more actual chores around the house and this list will really help! Thanks for the great list!
What are the parents doing during all this? It’s pretty obvious that the children of the house are doing everything else. I agree that children should learn responsibility and have some chores, but this is ridiculous.
How is it good to have your young children in situations where they are exposed to many cleaning chemicals, bacteria, and viruses? It is a parent’s job to keep their child(ren) healthy and safe!
It is not necessary to have a 2 year old doing anymore than picking up their toys.
This list is a list for parents who want their children to be their housekeepers. Guess what? They’re not; they’re children. You’re supposed to be taking care of them, not the other way around.
I totally agree. Everybody has been saying that they have always had their kids doing this. I don’t think a toddler can effectively swiffer the floor and a preschooler should not break their back early in life by weeding. This list is too much for these poor kids.
I don’t think the point of having a two-year old doing chores is that they do it effectively… honestly I think people are getting WAY to caught up in the word chore. I have a two year old who has been helping unload the dishwasher for the last year or so (I think he started around 18 months). He also sweeps, vacuums, clears his plate, and if I let him washes sippy cups. I’m sure there are other things he does as well. He is not forced to do any of these things, and he certainly doesn’t do all of them effectively, but he does it. My one year old daughter has ways that she “helps” as well.
For those wondering, while they are doing these “chores,” I am right there, by their side, doing the chores with them (except for sweeping, my kiddos grab the broom whenever they get the chance, so as long as they’re not doing damage they’re free to sweep)… that’s why they’re doing it! They want to do what mommy and daddy do, and so they find ways to help with what they can. I never tell my son to go unload the dishwasher. When I’m unloading it, he comes over and grabs plates and hands them to me. As far as safety is concerned, sharps do not go in the dishwasher, and the majority of our dishes are plastic (classy I know!), if he is headed over to help, I grab anything that may be of harm. 🙂
Children are not expected to do each chore on the list, or to do them independently. Chores and independence level vary by age and ability. The list is simply ideas for parents that aren’t sure what to have their kids help with. I’m not exactly sure where the chemical comments started coming from, but none of the chores listed that I saw mentioned anything about working with chemicals…
Oh, my daycare kiddos are expected to do “chores” as well. In general, they are responsible for picking up after themselves. After meals they scrape plates and put them in designated area. When done with a toy/activity it is to be put away. If they spill or make a mess, they clean it up (with help depending on age and circumstance). One of the girls (age 6) even folds my laundry… not because I make her, but because she begs me to let her!
Forget about the word chore, and think of it as learning activities!
I completely agree,,,I think swiffering for a 2 year old is a bit much and weeding??? Come on, 2 is a toddler,,putting toys/clothes away should be the most they should do,,,I don’t want my kids around chemicals either.
We have 6 children, 5 are between 17 & 22, # 6 is 7 now, when we had all the older ones all at home they all had their own chores. They were responsible for their rooms picked up, their laundry done, their bathrooms cleaned (which boys had 1 & girls had one) they shared that responsibility, as well as the 3 boys had to
Mow, weedeat, & edge the yard( riding mower) girls, cleaned & dusted living room, & each had a rotating after dinner list.
I am not a fan of children using dangerous law equipment. My father does lawn service and he has injured himself badly a few times..I can see raking or picking up sticks but children are not born to do dangerous chores.
Other than the dinner list
Their chores were all done by Thursday night, if not they had no weekend till they were done. We had a big house for a big family, it was just part of being in the family….. They r all up & out, definitely new training with the 7 year old, very creative wonderful child. We have a farm to go with it, but that sweet child is a
Tornado….. It has been a definite challenge to say the least, it has been like pulling teeth just to get her to pick up after herself, & she never ever has enough time to do all her stuff :-). This year will be the change
We are going to be homeschooling, very excited to be able to help mold her character, while not taking away from her free flowing way of life, I feel it is beyond essential for us as parents to teach our children how to be self sufficient adults able to survive in this world, Dave Ramsey has some wonderful ways to give your kid insensitive for doing their chores but also furthering that lesson by helping to prepare them a bit financially as well. Our sweet girl has whole heartedly jumped on the band wagon. :-). Thank you so much for your time & efforts to help other parents & families 🙂
I think just because she said the kids could do things on the list doesn’t mean they have to do all them, i found it very helpful to have more ideas. I have 3 boys 6,8,10 they have one “chore” and then are responsible for picking up their toys and room, making their bed, making sure their laundry gets in the hamper, and putting up their clean clothes. I don’t expect them to clean the whole house, but they sure do get to help. we don’t pay for their normal chores but they can earn money doing extra things.
Christopher D Drew says
This is so helpful, Thank you.
Johnny Bravo says
weed is a little early for a preschooler don’t ya think?
This is really neat. Does anyone have any suggestions on what chores I should give my son 7 year old son who is has autism?
Kathy Pine says
We just started chores at our house and it’s working great. Wrote a bit about decisions we made and our system on my latest blog post:
Thanks so much for the inspiration!
Clever Screen Name says
I’m a little irked by the parents that are simply taken aback at the idea that children should learn to do domestic tasks. True- you shouldn’t utilize your children as free slave labor. Just because a list has been composed of age appropriate household chores for kids doesn’t mean that a parent should make a child of a given age ALL of the responsibility of those tasks…but educating your children on how to maintain a household is as vital an education as maintaining a financial budget or scheduling your time wisely to be an effective and successful individual. I mean, let’s get real, the majority of the population does NOT pay someone to do their everyday, menial household tasks. Many who can afford to do so choose not to simply because we all appreciate what we have more when we’ve worked for it, that includes a clean home or a hot meal.
Use your common sense…no kid should have an adult size work load but they shouldn’t be sheltered from the very real responsibility of cleaning up after ones self and contributing to the society of a household as they will have to contribute one day to the populace in which they’ll make their adult lives.
What are you doing while your kids are being slaves and not having fun like kids are suppose to do?
I think this is an AMAZING idea, and I really wish my own mom had started me out earlier. I was definitely one of those entitled little brats who thought if they wanted something it would be handed to them no questions asked. The first time I had to clean the bathroom, I had a meltdown. I also feel that the lack of responsibility kept me from trying to better myself when I was younger. I now have 2 sons who are at the age where they like to help out (almost 5 and 3.5), and I fully intend on taking advantage of that. Right now, they both make their beds in the morning, put their clothes in the hamper when they take them off, and pick up their toys before nap/bed/when it’s needed. My 5 year old also likes to help me dust. I think if we start to add in a few more things here and there, it will help them out a LOT in the long run. Thanks for sharing!
You have your 11-year-old scrub toilets?!?!
I’m in tremendous disagreement with this. Children should be allowed to be children. If I took my 11-year-old and went to the neighbor’s and her toddler was scrubbing the baseboard I’d probably consider calling someone. Our son certainly has chores but some of these are ridiculous and beg the question “Did you have children knowing they are a gift to us, to love and protect and support until adulthood and beyond?! Or did you think you were breeding a helpful little army?! Also; to whomever said their 6-7 year-old changes diapers of younger ones?! SHAME on you, “mom”.
Rudy Gunneson-Poling says
yay! We are on the same page. Her list is unrealistic and dangerous in my opinion. The sad part are all the mothers who think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. No happy childhood memories there…’Play is children’s work’ is what a very wise older mom told me when I was raising my kids. What about the phrase immortalized for generations from gold spray painted macaroni? The one that talks about fingerprints everywhere that shouldn’t matter because childhood is to be treasured. As older moms we all know all of OUR housework will always be waiting for us. But not little babies, and children: those years are fleeting and few…DId the children dirty the dishes that adults used? Or wore their parent’s dirty clothes? Of course, so they should never be taken advantage from their parent’s laziness…I have wonderful memories of breastfeeding my four children, cuddling and reading, and all of the precious things we spent together doing. I knew then what I know now: none of those chores should ever take me away from my children. Children shouldn’t have to compete for their parents attention. Chores can and will wait…
Rudy Gunneson-Poling says
*meant to say ‘of course not’
These are great! My oldest is 9 and he has set chores that he earns allowance by doing but my younger two boys (ages 2.5 and 4.5) only help out occasionally. The only consistent “chore” they have is cleaning up their own toys and I don’t pay allowance for that! It is so often easier to do things myself BUT I will be using your list as a guide to help get the younger boys set up with their own chores.
I’ll also be using this list for punishment chore ideas. When my oldest gets in trouble (mostly for forgetting important things like turning in homework), grounding doesn’t bother him at all. He’s happy to sit in his room and read if he’s not allowed TV or toy time, but chores always get the point across because those tasks take away his free time.
I couldn’t agree more
Parents should know this
m planning to start a family soonthis I believe will help me alot
Betsy Shoub says
My husband of 3 1/2 yrs has taken a very active role in helping me raise my 14 year old son. We both want him to know how to do all aspects of home management. My concern, & subject of debate in my house, is that he is doing too much in conjunction with his freshman high school schedule of all the hardest classes in which he has A’s & B’s. Currently every Saturday he vacuums the entire house except for our master suite, cleans his bathroom, mops bathroom & kitchen, cleans the stove top, all of his laundry including his bunk beds, washes dishes every night (No dish washing machine), takes out trash twice a week, & recycles once a week. How much is too much? Thanks for your help!
Children should NOT be forced / made to do chores. The housework is NOT their job! Kids should be kids not our little maids! Yes, we should TEACH kids HOW to do things so they have skills, maybe ask them to help once in a while but NO we should not burden them with regular chores. Kids have school, homework, etc that is more than enough, they NEED PLAY!
Samantha Green says
Absolutely! Toddlers really love to do what we’re doing and it’s a great start for them for doing household chores that fit with their age. I love your way of playing fun and music that they’ve loved. It’s so nice to see that all family are working together, helping and at the same time having fun.