An Age-Appropriate Chore Chart For The Rest of Us

by Sarah Cottrell
Originally Published: 
chore chart
Mark Rose / iStock

Have you seen those insanely overachieving chore charts for kids floating around Facebook and Pinterest? They are crazy. First of all, they include things like having a 2-year-old carry firewood or set a table, or a 10-year-old prepare dinner, deep clean the kitchen, and then hem some slacks. Who else is thinking, WTF?

I’m 37 years old and can hardly manage to do some of the shit these charts are telling parents that their kids ought to be doing by milestone ages. So I created a more realistic guide for “the rest of us,” you know, us normal folks who have grounded ideas about what kids are capable of and also what parents are willing to do over, because let’s face it, when kids do chores it almost always means that moms and dads have to redo everything.


Ha! Just kidding, babies don’t do chores, not even for those precious sanctimommies with laminated daily planners who created these damn chore charts to begin with.


– Throw dirty clothes and maybe a toy or two in general vicinity of the hamper.

– Not throw food on the floor.

– Keep bath water in the bathtub.

– Throw trash away, in a trash can, and not in mom’s hand , or hidden in pockets, cupboards, or drawers.

– Fetch own juice box and open it without juice exploding on the carpet.

– Learn to tell mom immediately when the juice explodes on the carpet.

– Toss all toys in the toy box. “Living room floor” is not a synonym for “toy box.”

– Put (don’t throw or break) used dishes in the sink.

Elementary School Kids

– Throw dirty clothes closer to the hamper—like, aim for the same spot on the floor that Dad hits. That would be great.

– Hang up jacket and backpack after walking through the door after school and not after 15 reminders from Mom.

– Put dirty lunch box in the sink—preferably when you get home from school and not the next morning when mom is going crazy trying to get you out the door on time.

– Put the damn Legos away where mom can’t step on them and scream out in pain.

Middle School Kids

– All your bathroom crap goes in one drawer where Mom can’t smell it.

– Charge your own devices.

– Empty the dishwasher without bellyaching.

– Throw your own clothes in the hamper, and while you’re at it, please help Mom out and pick up Dad’s dirty socks that missed the target too. Yeah, yeah, yeah, life’s not fair.

High School Kids

– Surprise your mother and vacuum or dust something.

– Cook once in a while.

– Let me introduce you to the washing machine.

– Get a job to pay for your own gas—and cell phone.

– Mow the lawn and take out the trash; responsibility looks good on you.

College Kids

– As long as you’re not living at home, then we don’t care about what chores you do until we come to visit you, in which case make an effort and clean your dorm room. And for the love of god, please don’t drop out of college, get pregnant, arrested, or develop a drinking or drug problem.

Kids Who Move Back Home

– Run to the store so Mom doesn’t have to.

– Do your own laundry.

– Cook your own food.

– Clean your own dishes.

– OMG, really? Do we have to go over this? You’re an adult.

Kids Who Are in Their 30s and Still Living at Home and Who Need to Move the Fuck Out

– Move the fuck out.

Listen, I get it, no one wants to raise an entitled brat, but do we really have to expect the world from kids? And should we be making parents feel bad for not adhering to these “experts” who make up these ridiculous lists? To each their own. At our house we have one kid who loves to clean and we encourage it, while the other one hates to clean but has other interests like walking the dog or tinkering with broken things and we think that that is as beneficial to the family as mopping a floor.

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