When I was growing, I used to spend time with my grandparents every summer. For as long as I can remember, they always insisted that we help out around the house. In the morning, we had to get up and make our beds. After each meal, we had to help with the dishes and before bedtime the entire house had to be picked up of any toys that we played with during the day.
There was no complaining or not helping because that’s just how things were. There were no lists of “age appropriate chores”. You just helped. My grandparent’s house was always immaculate.
Now that I’m older with kids of my own, I wanted my kids to have that same work ethic with helping out around the house.
So what should they be doing? This guide will provide a list of chores your kids can help out with at any age.
When you are raising your kids, you want to show them the right way to do things, teach them important life lessons, and make sure they can one day take care of themselves. A great way to do this is by having them do chores at home. Chores teach kids so many excellent lessons. It teaches your kids the importance of personal responsibility, how to set a goal and reach it, and how to do certain things that will definitely improve their life as they get older.
Tips For Getting Kids to do Chores
Before looking into the different chores your kids can do at various ages, let’s take a moment to discuss getting your kids to do their chores in the first place. This is going to be one of the struggles you face, once you know what chores your child is able to handle at his or her current age. Remember to keep trying and not give up on your child, as one of these methods is going to help your child understand that chores are part of their personal responsibility and not just something mom or dad will do if they to don’t it themselves.
If your children are anything like mine, they are probably willing to do just about anything except their assigned chores. Here’s how we’ve made it a much happier time!
One of the most important things to remember when you want your kids to do their chores, is to remain consistent. Don’t do the cleaning up for them if they take too long or don’t want to do it. If you told your pre-teen daughter to put her folded laundry away, leave it there until she does it. I know how frustrating this can be when the kids seem to be moving at a glacial pace. You gotta hang in there. I promise it gets better! If you have rules about consequences of not doing chores, see them through. Your kids will soon learn mom means business and they need to keep up with these responsibilities.
Start Chores at a Young Age
A common mistake many people make because they aren’t aware of what kids can do at certain ages is waiting too long to have kids do chores. Even kids as young as 2 or 3 can do certain things that will get them used to the practice of doing chores. Start them young, and it will be easier to get them to do chores as they get older.
That’s what my grandparents did. As I got older, doing chores was just a part of the routine because I didn’t know any different.
Don’t Worry About Being Perfect
Your child is not going to do the chores perfect every time, but it is the effort that is most important. You can supervise some of these tasks so that you know if something needs to be re-done when they leave the room, such as a kid doing dishes and not cleaning something all the way. However, with things like folding laundry and making the bed, don’t worry if it isn’t perfect. If you judge them for this, they will lose all motivation to keep doing chores.
This was a hard one for me as I was used to things being done a certain way. However, I quickly realized that micro-managing was stressing my children out. When I let go and allowed them to do things as they saw fit and as best they could the whole process was easier all the way around.
Keep Praising Your Child
Make sure your kids know that they are doing a good job. Children really want to do good and it helps tremendously when you can recognize their efforts. Every time they do a chore on their own without being asks, do it correctly, or keep up with the chore chart you have created, praise them and let them know they did a good job.
We have a “caught you doing something good” jar at home. If the kids get enough points in the jar, they earn a special reward.
Consider Offering an Allowance
This is an individual choice, but many parents find that giving their kids an allowance works great. Some parents do feel that this is teaching kids they will get a reward every time they do something that should already be expected, while others believe it teaches them good work ethic for the future. This is really your choice, but you might want to consider an allowance, at least for older children and teens.
Age Appropriate Chores For Younger Children
When your child reaches about 2 or 3 years old, they are usually old enough to do some smaller chores. This is a good age to get started so they can begin learning personal responsibility. Keep in mind they won’t be able to do everything themselves, but it is a great age to have them help you with things.
Two and Three Year-Olds
You can have your younger children start helping to pick up their toys and blocks when they’re done playing and start helping you make the bed. They won’t be able to completely do it on their own, but let them assist you while you make it. Make a game out of it so that they don’t come to associate chores with work. My daughter still loves to vacuum and help me clean the floors. To her it’s fun and I’m more than happy to have some help. Kids at this age should also be able to help with spills, feed the pets with your supervision, and put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket.
Four and Five Year-Olds
When they get a little older, they can start doing more things on their own. This includes doing more of making the bed, being responsible for picking up things in the living room and bedroom and getting dressed on their own. Children of this age should also be able to help with some things in the kitchen, such as stirring or putting dishes in the dishwasher. They can help outdoors by watering plants, raking leaves and putting them into bags, putting away groceries, and taking dirty dishes from the table and putting them in the sink.
What School-Aged Children Can Do
By the time your child reaches first or second grade, they should already be comfortable with doing chores and on their way to being capable of doing even more around the house. This includes chores they have already started doing, but now can do without supervision.
Six and Seven Year-Olds
Your children should now be able to make their own beds without supervision. It is okay if it isn’t perfect, but this is a good age to stop helping them. Here is a list of other tasks and chores kids at this age can handle:
• Writing thank-you notes
• Vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping
• Taking out the trash, with your supervision
• Folding and putting away laundry
• More food prep, with your supervision
• Cleaning up their room
This is a great age because your kid is starting to become more independent. They are choosing their own clothes, helping with laundry and dishes, and hopefully making their bed and cleaning their room each day. You can also add a few more chores, including preparing easy meals completely on their own, washing the car, and cleaning their bathroom.
Chores For Your Pre-Teen
By the time your child reaches their pre-teen stage, which is between 11 and 12 years old, they are doing many things on their own. This is the age where you should expect your son or daughter to start doing their own laundry. You can still supervise them to make sure they use the right amount of soap and select the right setting, but for the most part, it is a chore they can handle on their own.
Pre-teens can also do the following things themselves:
• Dust wood furniture
• Vacuum and mop all rooms
• Change light bulbs
• Change their bed sheets
• Do more yard work, such as pulling weeds or mowing the lawn
• Preparing simple family meals
• Cleaning windows and mirrors
• Doing the dishes without help
Teenager Chore Responsibilities
When you have teenagers in your home, you are starting to prepare them for adulthood. You want to teach them as many basic skills as you can before they reach 18, so that by the time they go to college or move out on their own, they know how to take care of themselves and their home properly. This is done through various chores around the house.
For 13 year-olds, you want to start introducing them to life skills, in addition to the chores they have already been doing. Of course keep having them make their bed each morning, do the dishes, and continue working on their own laundry. However, they should also start doing some things they will need to handle on their own as an adult, such as replacing the bag in the vacuum cleaner, ironing their clothes, mowing the lawn, and possibly even doing some minor repairs around the house. Aside from changing a light bulb, a 13 year-old can also help with things like hammering nails, as long as they have supervision.
14 and 15 Year-Olds
Continuing with these lessons, have your 14 and 15-year-olds do more home chores as well. For example, you can have your son start preparing more elaborate meals from recipes he finds and have him do the grocery shopping for ingredients. You can let your daughter start babysitting for neighborhood kids or wash the outdoor windows in your home. These are life skills that help your teens take care of themselves.
16 and Up
By the time your teens reach 16 or 17 years old, they should be doing everything you are doing. This includes being able to clean out the refrigerator, do any housework or yard work, wash cars, make a grocery list and shop on their own, and do deep cleaning around the house. This is also a good age to start teaching your teens about financial budgeting if you haven’t already, though I recommend that you start sooner.
Continue introducing new chores to your kids each week and add to the chore chart. They shouldn’t be doing all household duties, but helping out so they can learn how to do things on their own. While you’re at it, get them to help you out with making dinner from time to time. By the time your teens move out of the house, you feel confident they know what they are doing and can survive out in the real world.