Have you given any thought to chores for kids? Though not as hotly debated as disciplining a child, assigning chores and handing out allowances are two areas that drum up quite the debate. And how you handle these things can even create a lot of conflict between co-parents. We’re not saying you need to have a firm answer before you have kids — but it’s definitely something you might need to spend some time discussing. It may not be one of the most exciting things motherhood requires of you, but it is a fantastic way to teach your little one about things like hard work and the value of money (if you’re letting them earn some cold hard cash for their efforts).
Why? Some parents don’t believe in giving their kids chores. They argue that a kid’s job is to go to school, learn, and have fun. Other parents insist that giving your kids chores gives them a sense of purpose. Many believe assigning chores helps better prepare children for adulthood or, at the very least, instills a sense of respect for the people they might pay to do those same jobs. These are all decent and well-thought-out arguments.
But if you’re here, it’s probably for advice on making chores work for your family. You’ve already decided to give it a go. Where do you start, though? Fortunately, it’s not as overwhelming as you might think — and we’re here to help you figure it all out.
Implementing Chores for Kids
If you’re of the mindset that you want to give out chore assignments, know that it’s best to start early. If you suddenly spring the concept of chores on your 10-year-old, it’s going to be a struggle. If, however, you work chores into your two-year-old’s routine and keep adding on each year, they’ll grow accustomed to the expectation.
You may be thinking, “Wait. You give your two-year-old chores?” Well, yeah, why not? Granted, a two-year-old can’t do the same thing a twelve-year-old sibling can do, but they’re still capable of helping. And believe it or not, giving them tasks to accomplish (even those that don’t sound fun to you) helps boost your babe’s confidence. Your two-year-old can take an all-purpose wipe to the front of cabinets while you cook. They can also put their toys away each night (with some guidance, of course).
A few ways to introduce chores to your children is by making it a natural part of your family’s routine. In the same way, there’s a time to watch television or eat, create a space in the day for chores. And avoid using chores as punishment. You don’t want to make children feel negatively about taking care of their home, so use a different approach. It also helps to make chores fun and turn them into a game or challenge. This will incentivize the activity and make them want to do them.
Chores for Kids to Do
Toddlers can’t run vacuums. Toddlers can, however, help Mama pick up the floor before she vacuums. Even if you don’t subscribe to the Montessori method of learning and parenting, there are still some great takeaways — starting with the idea that your kids can do hard things. Yes, your child might be a piss-poor job of wiping your cabinet faces at 24-months-old. But, by 30 months and 36 months, they’ll do a much better job. Will they struggle? Sure. As long as it doesn’t escalate into a tantrum every time, it’s OK to let them work through their feelings. That’s how they learn to problem-solve. Besides, when it comes to chores, the struggle is real even into adulthood. Are we right, or are we right? Kids, just like us grown-ups, deserve a little grace.
How many chores should a child have a day?
Chores teach children responsibility, but it’s important not to overwork them. There’s no specific number of chores children should have, but if your kid’s a preteen or younger, give them tasks that take about 10 to 30 minutes altogether. Especially when they have school during the week, you don’t want to eat up all of their time. You can add a few more chores on the weekend or during the summer. Try to keep the time they spend on chores a week to no more than four hours.
Chores for Kids By Age
Keep in mind that just because your kids “age into” new chores doesn’t mean you have to stop expecting them to do some of their earlier chores. Moreover, as kids grow older, their chores are grouped by larger age brackets. Your 15-year-old can’t assist in taking your youngest daughter to ballet. Your 17-year-old has a license and can. As you look through the list, you’ll need to find chores that are just right for your kiddo’s abilities. If they’re a little harder than what they’re used to, it’s OK to help them at first. Mamas and Dadas are a child’s first teachers, after all.
Chores for Two-Year-Olds to Three-Year-Olds
- Wipe cabinet faces
- Wipe down tables/counters
- Wipe baseboards
- Put away toys
- Put their clothes in the hamper
- Fill dog/cat bowls
Chores for Four-Year-Olds to Five-Year-Olds
- Dustmop small areas with a Swiffer or dry mop
- Match socks
- Put dishes in the sink
- Make the bed
- Put away clean utensils and plastics
- Wash plastics
- Pull weeds
- Sort laundry whites/colors
- Set and clear the table with adult or older sibling supervision
- Carry in the mail
- Help bring in groceries from the car
- Pick up their toys
- Brush their teeth with an adult or older sibling present
- Brush or fix their hair for school
- Get dressed by themselves
- Empty small garbage cans
- Wash their hands
- Make simple snacks for themselves
- Put their dirty clothes in the hamper
Chores for Six-Year-Olds to Seven-Year-Olds
- Use a small handheld vacuum for crumbs
- Dust (a sock on the hand works great)
- Clean reachable windows/mirrors
- Clear the table
- Strip sheets from the bed
- Rake the yard
- Clean their bedrooms
- Load/empty dishwasher with minimal supervision
- Switch laundry from washer to dryer
- Get their own snacks and help with making lunches
- Put away clean clothes
- Take trash out
- Carry in groceries (and put away)
Chores for 10-Year-Olds to 14-Year-Olds
- Do dishes independently
- Wash the car
- Help make meals
- Clean bathrooms or kitchen with minimal supervision
- Do their own laundry
Chores for Kids Aged 15 and Up
- Run errands for parents
- Assist in sibling chauffeuring
- Take the dog for a walk
- Mow the lawn
- Make meals without supervision
- Help with household/sibling laundry
Chores for Kids to Earn Money
It’s never too early for kids to learn the value of a dollar, and chores are a great way to get started. However, you don’t want to pay your child for simple chores like cleaning their room or taking out the trash. The assignments below are seasonal and serious enough for kids to earn a few bucks and learn some responsibility.
- Do extra chores around the house
- Shovel snow
- Clean the garage
- Rake leaves
- Babysit younger siblings
- Help other siblings with their chores
- Wash the car
- Mow the lawn