Getting your kids to do their chores can be a chore itself! But teaching them to do chores and help out around the home is so important! It’s great for your kiddos because it helps build their character and teaches them skills. And chores help you by saving time and stress (once you actually TEACH them HOW to do their chores)! Read on to see why kids should have chores, how I get my kids to do their chores, and chores for kids of different ages.
Why should kids have chores?
I’m a big believer that kids should do chores, not just to get a treat or money, but to help take care of the home because it’s THEIR HOME too.
It’s taken a while to get to where we are now, but my oldest son, Jackson (6), is finally understanding how our family is a team. We work together to pick up and clean our house. Then we can have a clean and comfortable house to enjoy together! My youngest son, Jase (3), usually doesn’t have a problem doing his chores. Taking out the trash and feeding our dog is fun to him (for now!).
I want my kids to be prepared to life on their own by the time they’re 18. No matter if they’re a boy or a girl, it is important that they know how to do different things around the house. They should know how to do skills like cooking, cleaning, yard work, changing a tire, and simple home repairs.
I don’t want my kids to have to depend on mom and dad to come do their laundry and cut their grass. And I don’t want them thinking that their wife will do all the cooking and cleaning in the house (it’s the 21st century – that’s not gonna fly!). I want to teach them skills they need to be able to be independent and self-sufficient adults.
Should kids get rewards for doing chores?
At this point, we don’t usually give our kids rewards for doing their daily chores. Just like I don’t get a reward when I cook and clean each day. I want them to develop a strong work ethic. They should do their chores, because it’s the right thing to do, not because they will get paid.
But, I might randomly give them a reward, if they do a good job of doing their chores without any complaining. But it’s not a set, every-day thing. The random reward might be a sticker or an experience, like going to the park.
Our rule is that the kids have to do their chores as soon as we get home from school. Chores need to be done before they can play or watch TV. They know what their chores are now. In the car, before we pull up to the house, I remind them what to do. They are used to our routine now. They do their chores right away, USUALLY without complaining.
Before they go play I always check to make sure they did their chores and put their things away where they’re supposed to go. Jackson likes to take off his shoes and put them in the corner of his room. Even though he knows they go on the rack in his closet. And it takes just as much time and effort to put them where they go. Anyone else have a kid (or husband!) that likes to do that? And he likes to put toys or even trash under his dresser or bed, instead of walking a few extra feet to where they go. This is why I’ve started checking his room before I let him go play.
When the boys get a little older and start doing more time-consuming weekly, monthly, or yearly chores, we’ll start to pay them a certain amount of money for each job they do. For example, when they’re old enough to clean the baseboards, I might pay them $10 to clean all the baseboards in the house. Now, that would be AFTER I have taught them how to do that chore and they are able to do it independently. It is important that kids understand the value of money and how to manage their money wisely. To do that, they need an opportunity to earn money.
What chores should kids have?
Here are some chores for kids I’ve laid out by age. Of course, EVERY child is different. Some children may be able to do a chore earlier than it says here. And some may not be able to handle a job until they’re a little older.
Just because I’ve put a chore under a certain age, it does not mean they have to be perfect at doing that job at that age. That is the age I would start to TEACH them how to do the chore. For each chore, you will need to show them how to do it correctly. Then watch them do it a few times before they can do it independently.
- Put toys away: This is the first chore I started with for my kids. Even before they turned one, I taught them how to pick up their toys and put them in a basket. I’m not the kind of mom that does EVERYTHING for her kids. I try to teach them to be independent and take care of their things themselves. This is something that takes a while to learn though. So, starting around age 1, I’ll pick up their toys with them. Then I’ll watch them and cheer them on as they pick up their toys. When they get a little older, I’ll have them pick up their toys on their own,. I’ll check in on them to make sure they’re putting them away correctly.
- Empty the trashcans: Have your child empty the small bathroom, office, or bedroom trashcans into a larger trashcan (our big trashcan is in our laundry room). I have both of my boys do this job. Jackson empties his bathroom trashcan, and Jase empties my bathroom trashcan.
- All the above +
- Feed the pets: Our boys actually really like this chore! They take turns feeding our dog Daisy.
- Help set the table – Start with lighter things that aren’t sharp first. Have your child be in charge of setting the forks and spoons on the table when they’re 3. When they get older and a little stronger, have them start setting the plates and drinks on the table. Then they can carry the food dishes to the table. Let them set the knives on the table after you’ve taught them how to properly carry knives and you can trust them to carry them safely. By age 7 or so, you should be able to have your child set the table completely for meals.
- Help clear the table: As I wrote above, start with having your child carry lighter things, like the silverware, first from the table to the sink. Then add in heavier things as they are able.
- Make their bed: To start out, pull the sheets and blankets up yourself. Just have your child put the pillows and stuffed animals on the bed. When they’re around 4, have them try to make the bed completely. This is one I’m still working on with Jackson. He makes his bed, but it’s not always neat. Sometimes I give him little lessons on how to make the bed neatly, and then have him try it again. Practice, Practice, Practice!
- Put dirty clothes in the hamper (separated into whites/colors): After you help your child get dressed for the day or put their pajamas on, have them take their dirty clothes to the laundry room hampers. I have 2 baskets in the laundry room that we sort our clothes into- one for whites and one for colors. Show your child where to put their clothes, based on how your family sorts clothes.
- All the above +
- Help make lunch for school the next day: Jackson is in Kindergarten this year, and making his lunch for school each day is fun for him. He loves getting to pick out what he wants in his lunch box (within reason). When they’re 5, your child can start by picking out a snack from the pantry, picking a fruit or vegetable, and getting ingredients for their main food that you fix them. When they’re a little older, they can start actually fixing their lunch themselves, while you oversee. Jackson chooses what he wants in his lunchbox (always at least 1 fruit or vegetable, 1 source of protein, and 1 snack). He puts the snack in his lunchbox (It’s usually Annie’s organic fruit snacks, Annie’s Bunny Graham Cookies, or yogurt.) He chooses a fruit or vegetable, and I cut it up for him. For his protein, he might have a few slices of turkey and cheese, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or tuna salad. After he gets the stuff out, I help him prepare it.
- Lay out an outfit for school the next day: Jackson has a uniform for school, so this is easy for him. Thank goodness! He always lays out the pants and shirt he is going to wear the next day. If your child doesn’t have a uniform, you may want to have different sections for their clothing. Make a section of their closet or dresser for “school clothes”, a section that is “play/home clothes”, and a section for “church clothes.” Have them pick out the outfit from the “school clothes” section (and then you check to make sure it matches!).
- Water plants: Show your child how to give the plants the right amount of water, without drowning them.
- Put their own clothes away neatly: After you’ve done a load of laundry, have your child put their own clothes away. Show them which clothes need to be hung up and how to hang them up. And which clothes need to go in dresser drawers and how to put them away neatly. This is one I’ve been working on with Jackson lately. He’s been putting his clothes away for a while, but definitely NOT neatly. This is another chore that I’ve had little “lessons” with him. I reteach him how to fold his clothes and place them in neat stacks in his dresser, instead of shoving everything in the drawers.
- Help carry groceries in from the car and put away: When your child is strong enough, have them start carrying grocery bags from the car to the kitchen. They can take the groceries out, put the grocery bags in the recycling bin or wherever you put them, and help put the groceries where they go.
- Pick up sticks, pine cones, and trash in the yard: This is one that they can do as needed during the fall or after a storm.
- Help organize their room: This is something that can be done anywhere from once a month to once a year, depending on how organized your child keeps their room. At least once a year, I help my boys organize their rooms. Check out that post and the included YouTube video to see more about how we organize the kids’ bedrooms. This is a chore that will need more supervision from you. But start teaching your child where their toys, books, and clothes should go. That way you don’t have to spend lots of time reorganizing their room several times a year.
- Clean baseboards and other trim: This is one of my deep cleaning jobs for February. A great thing about having kids ages 5+ is that you have little helpers to do the deep cleaning jobs! Start them on this easy one. They can take a microfiber cloth, dip it in soapy water, wring it out, and wipe down the baseboards and whatever other trim they can reach.
- Clean switch plates and outlets: This is a job on my Deep Cleaning Schedule for January. Have your child start assisting you in this chore. Be sure to teach them to do this job safely and not to put the wet cloth IN the outlet.
- All the above +
- Make own lunch for school: By age 8, your child should be able to completely make their lunch for school. Make sure they follow your guidelines for a healthy lunch and check to make sure they don’t pack a bunch of junk food! Watch the video below to see our guidelines for healthy lunches. There’s lots of great tips and ideas for you kids’ lunches (Updated in 2021).
- Empty the dishwasher (what they can reach): When the dishwasher finishes, have them put the dishes away in the drawers and cabinets that they can reach.
- Help cook breakfast and supper: I HIGHLY recommend teaching your kids to cook using the Kids Cook Real Food video ecourse. It teaches them safe knife skills, measuring skills, how to use a spatula and flip eggs, and MANY other kitchen skills. By the end of the course, they learn how to cook complete meals themselves. I went through the course with my boys (and will go through it again with my youngest for sure), and we all loved it! Have your kids join in with you as you cook breakfast and supper. They can start with simple things, like getting the ingredients out of the pantry and refrigerator and stirring foods. As they learn more kitchen skills, they can help do more in preparing the meals.
- Fold clothes and put away: When a load of laundry finishes, have them fold the clothes (after you have taught them how to fold clothes your preferred way). Then teach them to put their own clothes away, put towels and sheets away in the linen closet, and put other family member’s clothes on a dresser in their room.
- Sweep and mop all tile/laminate/wood floors: At this point, they should be old enough to take the broom and sweep all hard floors in the house. Then they need to use the dustpan and throw all the dirt in the trashcan. And finally, use the mop/Swiffer Wet Jet/Shark Steam Mop to clean all those hard floors.
- Pull weeds from the garden and/or flower bed: They can do this as needed.
- Clean doors: This chore is on my Deep Cleaning Schedule for March. If they started cleaning the baseboards, trim, switchplates, and outlets already, they will have no problem with this! They can use a microfiber cloth and soapy water to wipe down the doors and the trim around the doors (whatever they can reach).
- All the above +
- Vacuum: When they’re strong enough, have your child start vacuuming. Start with just their room, and work towards vacuuming the whole house.
- Do loads of laundry completely: Teach your child how to load the washing machine, add the detergent and fabric softener, press the correct buttons to start the cycle, switch the load over to the dryer, add the dryer sheet, press the correct buttons to start the drying cycle, and then fold the clothes when they’re done. Also, it is important to teach your child how to check the lint trap and empty it out as needed.
- Clean mirrors: When they are tall enough, teach them how to spray and wipe mirrors.
- Dust furniture and doorknobs: Show your child how to use the dusting spray and a microfiber cloth and go room-to-room dusting all the furniture and doorknobs in the house.
- Sweep porch, deck, and garage: When your child is strong enough to handle the larger, outdoor broom have them start sweeping the front porch, back deck, and garage.
- Rake leaves: This is a chore that they can do as needed during the fall.
- All the above +
- Wash dishes/load dishwasher: After meals, teach your child how to rinse off dishes, place them in the dishwasher, and run the dishwasher when it’s full. Show them how to hand wash any dishes that can’t go in the dishwasher.
- Clean bathroom countertops, showers, tubs, and toilets: I can’t wait for my kids to learn this chore! I will definitely pay for this one! Show your child how to use the bathroom spray and a sponge to clean the countertops, shower, bathtub, and toilet.
- Clean kitchen countertops and appliances: They can use the multipurpose spray and a cloth to wipe down the kitchen countertops, any marks on the cabinets, and the refrigerator shelves. If you have stainless steel appliances, they’ll need to use a stainless steel cleaner to wipe down the dishwasher, microwave, oven, and refrigerator.
- Help meal prep: If you do any meal prepping on the weekends, have your child start helping with that. Check out what I do for meal prep here.
- Wash cars: I’m sure my husband will pay for this one! Even now, my kids love “helping” wash the cars. They really just like playing in the water. But when they get a little older and can reach higher up on the cars, they will actually start washing the cars themselves.
Here’s a list of these chores you can print and keep for reference.
And you can download and print out chore checklist for your kids here to help keep them motivated and on track with their chores!
Later, I’ll write another post on chores/life skills that older kids should learn and do before they leave the house. I don’t have teenagers yet. But laying chores out like this helps me be prepared and have a plan of what I need to teach my kids at certain ages.
I hope this list was helpful for you. Do you give your kids rewards for doing chores? What chores do your kids currently do?
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Yes! Definitely saving this.
Thank you for the great article! It’s so true that we need to implement responsibility into our children early on. I have 3 sons-2, 3 and 4 years old. Since the 1 year old I teach children to help around the house and self-care. I use the Manini app for three children. It’s like printed chores cards, but in a phone. In the app, you can mark the completion of tasks, and children like it very much. And the app has a goal Board that lists all household chores and self-care for children under 5. The older child can already… Read more »
Wow!!! This is so complete and appropriate. Presents sooooo many things that might never be on the radar for busy moms.