In our family, chores are not optional. Since we all live together, create dishes and laundry together, and spill crumbs on the carpet together (some maybe more often than others, ahem, Josh), we are all responsible for keeping our home neat(ish) and and running smoothly(ish). I’ve written before about the importance of getting children involved with things around the house from an early age even though it’s often much easier and more efficient to just take it all over. Our bloggers Carly and Mary Grace expressed this sentiment recently as well.

Chores are important. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this (I joke!), but kids are messy. And parents are busy. And I don’t see either of these facts changing for a very long time. My attitude about this is “We’re all in this together.” I’m raising boys who will someday have their own apartments, homes, and possibly families. One of my biggest worries is that they’ll grow up thinking housecleaning is “women’s work” that they don’t need to take part in. In a similar vein, I don’t pay any allowance for doing regular chores because in my opinion, it’s part of life. I want them to help out of a feeling of shared responsibility, not because I’m paying them to help me with “my” job. It’s everyone’s job.

So what do they do? Well, below are some tasks, by age, that kids can do around the house, based on my own experience and reading on the subject. I’m not going to lie: somedays it goes better than others. There are days when they want to help and they do a great job, and there are days they are less willing and we need a good logical consequence to get them motivated (e.g., “Well, if you aren’t going to put your jeans in the hamper downstairs, it looks like you’ll be wearing your church pants to school tomorrow…” Church pants=Fancy=Uncomfortable=Sprinting to hamper with jeans). Do you insist on chores? If so, what do your little ones do to help out?

Chore ideas for young children by age

1-2 Years Old:

*Help put toys away

*Return books to bookshelf

*Help wipe up spills

*Practice sweeping with child-sized broom and dustpan

*Wipe cabinets and appliance fronts with a clean sponge or paper towel

2-3 Years Old:

all of above tasks plus…

*Clean child-height windows using non-toxic cleaners with close supervision

*Match clean socks in laundry baskets

*Brush teeth (with adult brushing after)

*Sort clean laundry by person (Mom’s Pile, Dad’s pile, My pile…etc)

*Sort toys into bins

*Line up shoes

3-5 Years Old:

all of above tasks plus…

*Learn to prepare his or her own snacks

*Put dirty dishes in the sink

*Put away own clothes

*Fold towels

*Unload dishwasher, putting clean dishes on the counter

*Vacuum with assistance

*Sort recyclable items

*Wash own face and hair (with assistance as needed)

*Set the table

*Feed pets

*Make bed

Above all, remember: the goal is to get them involved regularly from and early age so helping becomes a part of life. Don’t stress if things aren’t done perfectly or as you’d like them done. My kids have worn slightly wrinkled shirts that they folded themselves, and my windows are sometimes often only clean halfway up because that’s how high my five-year-old can reach 🙂

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