Parents often ask us about our philosophy on children’s chores, but we’ve found that what many of them are really looking for is some idea of what sorts of chores their child might be expected to do at what ages. So to that end, I’ve created this little free printable chart, available in English, as well as Spanish, French, and Italian. Of course, every child is different, but most kids are capable of doing far more than parents require of them.
“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.”
– Abigail Van Buren
Age-Appropriate Chores for Children
- Put toys in toy box
- Stack books on shelf
- Place dirty clothes in laundry hamper
- Throw trash away
- Carry firewood
- Fold washcloths
- Set the table
- Fetch diapers & wipes
- Dust baseboards
- Feed pets
- Wipe up spills
- Put away toys
- Make the bed
- Straighten bedroom
- Water houseplants
- Sort clean silverware
- Prepare simple snacks
- Use hand-held vacuum
- Clear kitchen table
- Dry and put away dishes
- Disinfect doorknobs
- Gather trash
- Fold towels
- Dust mop floors
- Empty dishwasher
- Match clean socks
- Weed garden
- Rake leaves
- Peel potatoes or carrots
- Make salad
- Replace toilet paper roll
- Load dishwasher
- Change light bulbs
- Wash laundry
- Hang/fold clean clothes
- Dust furniture
- Spray off patio
- Put groceries away
- Scramble eggs
- Bake cookies
- Walk dogs
- Sweep porches
- Wipe off table
- Clean bathrooms
- Vacuum rugs
- Clean countertops
- Deep clean kitchen
- Prepare simple meal
- Mow lawn
- Bring in mail
- Do simple mending (hems, buttons, etc.)
- Sweep out garage
Ages 12 and up
- Mop floors
- Change overhead lights
- Wash/ vacuum car
- Trim hedges
- Paint walls
- Shop for groceries w/list
- Cook complete dinner
- Bake bread or cake
- Do simple home repairs
- Wash windows
- Iron clothes
- Watch younger siblings
Teaching your child to do any chore may initially take more time than just doing the chore yourself. Some kids will need more supervision than others, over a longer period of time, before they can complete the chore up to standard. But try to be an encourager rather than a drill sergeant while you are training your children to do their work and to do it well.
Also remember that working side-by-side — or at least in the same corner of the house or yard — is good for camaraderie and morale, as is putting on some lively music to work by. (One of our favorite working songs is Yakity-Yak. The kids do their chores in double-time whenever I plug that song in!)
Of course, “all work and no play” is no way to raise a child, so be sure to balance the chores with plenty of opportunities for enrichment. You’ll find a long list of ideas (plus another free printable) here: Encouraging Creativity in Young Children
Themistoklis Papaioannou says
I disagree with you. Kids should NOT be made to do chores. The housework is NOT the child”s responsibility. The parents are the carers and providers. The children are NOT the help. Kids should PLAY not WORK. Schoolwork is plenty enough. Chores are not difficult to learn anyone can in MINUTES. Its not the child’s role to contribute to the family. As for self-confidence, deep relationship, pride, etc can be gained via many other ways. These include play, art, sports, family time, etc.
Jennifer Flanders says
You are certainly entitled to your own opinion, but I’ve raised enough children to know firsthand that training them to pitch in with household chores helps them develop into more thoughtful, more observant, more hard-working, more successful, less entitled, less lazy, less manipulative, and less self-absorbed citizens.
Out of curiosity, do you have children of your own, or is yours a purely theoretical conviction? Either way, I’d love for you to write back in another 15-20 years to let me know whether your thinking has evolved on this point at all.
jennifer harley says
I just found this list today. I am a first time mom to a three year old boy. He does most of the things on the 2-3 yr old list. We haven’t tried folding things or table setting yet. Thank you for such helpful guide lines
Jennifer Flanders says
You’re more than welcome, Jennifer. Sounds like you’re already doing a dop-notch job helping your little boy learn how to chore cheerfully. Keep up the good work! Glad you like the printable. I had fun making it.
I don’t know what to say to Angela’s behavior, so I’ll just say that you handled that with such grace. Wow.
Thank you for helping people like me, who did not grow up being taught all of these things. We are grateful.
God bless you!
Jennifer Flanders says
Thank you, Jennifer. I appreciate your sweet words of encouragement. God bless you, too!
Lisa Pillsbury says
Thank you for the beautiful printables! They will be very useful for my family for years to come.
Jennifer Flanders says
You’re welcome, Lisa. It makes me so happy to know that. 🙂
LaLa Karch says
George williams PREACH, could not of said it better………
So, I’m guessing only the author of this blog is allowed to give sound advice, but when someone else comes along and comments and give advice that may go against what the author wrote, it doesn’t get published? Are you worried someone might agree with me and see some fault in what you wrote? Are you that insecure and worried what people might think that you won’t allow another persons reasonable point of view? What a way to teach your kids to live. Give your own opinions, and don’t let anyone else who has a valid opinion make you look bad.
Jennifer Flanders says
Sorry about the delay in posting your comments, Angela. I can assure you that I wasn’t trying to censor what you had to say. I was just away from my computer all day, spending time with my family. Today is my 9-year-old’s birthday, and our grandkids came over to help us celebrate. I’ve posted both messages now and would like to thank you for taking time to write. My little chore chart was never intended to be a hard and fast set of rules on raising children. If that is how it came across, I apologize. These are merely suggestions. As you were so good to remind us, each child is different. THE AGE at which he learns to do chores is not nearly as important as THAT he learns to do them. In our experience, this learning occurs most naturally when little ones are trained early to pitch in and help by doing whatever chores they are capable of doing at whatever age they happen to be.
Makes you wonder. All these people who have grown up and now have kids of their own who feel they need a list to supervise and suggest what chores their child should be able to do at a certain age, who say they were taught what real work was, and were given chores at early ages and did them without problem or complaint (I am one of them), why do you feel the need to have a list to go by? How on earth did our parents get by and assign us chores without a list or a computer or internet? People need to get off these sites, and stop going by list and manuals and guidelines and all this junk, and start learning from their children what it is they can do. LIFE is trial and error. Put away the list and guidelines and do things with your kids to see if they can actually do them, if they can’t, try again later, if they can, GREAT! EVERY kid is different, and these types of things, although they are guidelines, parents really take to heart, and feel if their children can’t meet these guideline, which a lot of people see as expectations, are failures at raising their children properly. Isn’t there enough stress on parents these days to fit in with the masses, not there are list and guidelines thrown at them to make them feel a little less inadequate?
Example? When my nephew was 2 years old, there would be no way he would have been able to set a table. He was such a tiny little fella, he couldn’t see the top of the table to set it, let alone climb up on a chair one handed to set it. In fact, half the things listed under age 2 – 3, he couldn’t and still wouldn’t be able to do because of the type of kid he is. He’s 3 now, and still wouldn’t be able to set a table, and still doesn’t have great coordination to be able to bring a plate of crackers and a glass of juice to his little table without spilling, because he is such a little guy. Folding face cloths… pffffttt… if you consider scrunching them up folding. No matter how many times you show him, he doesn’t have the attention span to do something like that the right way. Sure you can let him do it his way and clap and “YAY YOU DID IT” at the scrunching process, but whats the point of praising him for doing it the wrong way. That’s not teaching him life skills, and we just end up doing them all over again, so its teaching him he can do it his way, but we’ll come behind him and do it over again, the right way. So, he doesn’t fold face cloths. We have tried several times, he just isn’t the type of child who can do that YET! Stacking books on a shelf… shaking head… no. They get piled and pushed and wrinkled onto a shelf, and we have tried and tried to show him the right way, but he is one stubborn little 3 year old. So no, he can’t do that YET. Put toys in a toy box? He would have to play with every toy as he’s going, will put some in, pick up another toy to put in and remember a toy he already put in will play great with the one in his hand and take it out again and play more. We can get his big sister and little brother to help him, be he will pull the toys back out that they put away. He is a determined little boy. So no, he can’t do that on his own YET. Fetch diapers and wipes? We can ASK him, but will rarely receive them. He has great intentions of going to get them for us, but once he hits his brothers room, or the bathroom, we won’t see him again for a half hour and usually ALWAYS end up having to go get them ourselves and find him playing under the crib, or in the closet, or with the bummy cream (oh what a mess), or even climbing up the dresser drawers to look out the window. He is an adventurous and curious boy, so no, he can’t do that YET! Dusting the baseboards? Put all those things I mentioned up there together, and you have a recipe for disaster and will usually end up with a very frustrated 3 year 3 month old little boy because we won’t let him go behind the TV stand with all the wires to clean the baseboards, or because he can’t move the couch out to clean the baseboards, until he will flop on the floor defeated, or get distracted by a car he found under the edge of the couch. He simply can’t do that YET!
this little 3 year 3 month old boy has a “little” brother who is 18 months old, who has been “fetching” his own diapers since he was about 14 months old. This 18 month old cutie is bigger then his 3 year old brother, both in height and weight. Both are off the percentile charts, one being below, one being above, and believe me, it plays a huge part in what they can do. The 18 month old helps his big brother carry the kindling for the fire pit, and has been for months. He has a VERY different personality. So laid back and relaxed and happy to please and has been able to do most of the things on the 2 – 3 list for at least a couple of months already. But there is no way my sister will feel guilty or worried because her younger son is able to do more then her older son, because they will do with, when they are ready, through trial and error and a little pushing. But knowing these list and guideline are made with only good intentions at heart, even a mom of 10 children is not the expert on YOUR child. Throw away the list and charts and guideline. YOU know what your child is capable of. You will learn with and for your child what they can and can not do Y.E.T! You know your child’s personality. Before you go running off to the doctor because your child isn’t meeting a standard of what they should be able to do, look at who THEY are. Look at who YOU are. Don’t worry about what other families are doing. Your family is whats important.
The most hard working, well adjusted children have come from parents without list/guidelines, internet, and people constantly in their ears and in their head telling them what their children should be able to do at a certain age. Your children are your best teachers. They will tell you everything you need to know about them from the day they are born!
Michelle @ sustainableblessings.com says
Thank you for your list! My girls are 8 and 6 years old. They are actually excited about doing their suggested chores! Thank you so much!
I’m sure in many ways that my family seems to be very different from Jennifer’s. I live with my female partner and her son, who is 10. They are Black, and I am white. Beyond being interracial, we are also “blended”: we share 50/50 custody with her son’s other parent (also a woman with a female partner). So, we are different when it comes to family category and other aspects that matter very much to some people.
However, on chores and their positive effect on children, we are very much alike. One of the big differences between our house and that of his other parent is that he has household responsibilities when with us, but not when with her. In fact, she refused to allow him to wake up on his own for years, saying that she preferred to wake him herself and monitor his morning routine at every step. It’s amazing to see him switch from waiting for us to do things when he first comes over from her house, to proudly offering to my partner that he clean up the dinner dishes “because you made dinner, Mom.” The three of us made Sunday dinner together a few days ago, and ever since he has been saying how much he likes cooking, how he wants to invent recipes of his own to make for us, and how he is enjoying eating the leftovers of food he prepared. I don’t think he did a single part of that dinner by himself, but he can see how useful the skill is, and he wants to develop in that arena. It makes me really happy.
He has some learning challenges that make school potentially frustrating for him. I really value house-/yardwork skills because he can master them in a way that is more approachable than schoolwork (for him, specifically). Being in charge of some tasks around the house gives him a new avenue for feeling competent, as well as included in the work of our family.
Thank you for this post and the chore chart, Jennifer. I enjoyed reading them.
Jennifer Flanders says
You are very welcome. I appreciate your taking time to write. Thank you. I’ve noticed that when a child gains competence and experience in one area, it often improves his performance and willingness to try in other areas. I hope you’ll find that to be true of your son, as well.
Mindy Scheffrahn says
Thank you for a REASONABLE chore guide! I know what you say is true and that our kids often can handle more than we ask of them. However, I have seen many lists on pinterest of “what you can expect out of your 2 year old,” etc. and they are very discouraging. We have always required help in picking up toys and such, but I read some of those lists and for my highly creative, imagination driven, distractable, forgetful, first born they are completely unrealistic. I realize that what I need to do for both children is look at their age range and then look at the ranges to either side and make an honest assessment of what they can handle, knowing that there may be some things that are “their age” that they cannot handle and some things “older” that they can. My 7 year old, for instance is great at wiping off the kitchen table, and chopping soft foods (cucumber, kielbassa, and the like) with the aid of a cut-resistant glove. These are things she’s motivated to do so it works. Thank you for a great inspirational guide to chores!
Jennifer Flanders says
That’s a wise way to approach any such chore chart or developmental guide for children, Mindy. I’m happy you found mine useful.
Thanks for the great list! As far as a lot of the comments…I don’t understand why parents are so judgemental of each other (parenting is hard enough when we help each other, lets not work against one another). Each child, family, and situation is different. One child may have a lot more coordination and concentration to preform a task than another of the same age. That being said, this is good basic list for your average child that your family can customize for your needs. As far as to do or not to do structured chores. It is also personal and does not need to be judged. If the child is learning responsibility and how to chip in to a collective effort in another way…ok. Someone else’s method for raising their child may not work in your house, but it doesn’t men it’s wrong. It may just be what works for them.
Love this chart and this site! I’m completely confused by any negative comments. I hope my children (ages 12-16) don’t bring home any lazy, coddled mates later in life…lol
Florencia Decurgez says
Thank you! I was wondering how long it would take for someone to say” this is a suggested list of appropriate chore” it never says that you must follow it. I rather like the idea of having something to go by. Many times I wonder if what I ask my nieces, nephews, and my students to do is appropriate. By reading the list, I realized that I am not off base when I expect my 11 year old students to have a paper signed on time, pick up after themselves in the classroom, and help pick up papers outside if they see them, without expecting the custodian to do it. Having chores and responsibilities makes you a more responsible and caring human being.
Jennifer Flanders says
Your students benefit greatly by your requiring such things of them, Folrencia. Your comment made me smile with memories of my own fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Herrera. Among other things, she insisted that we keep the insides of our desks looking neat and orderly. She would inspect the desks while we were at recess and turn any offenders over on their sides so the contents would spill on the floor and we’d be forced to tidy things up as we put them back. She would always look as shocked as we were to find a desk overturned and would say quite innocently, “It looks like a tornado struck it.” That happened to me only once, and I learned my lesson. She was absolutely my favorite teacher of all time — firm, but extremely encouraging. It has now been 37 years since I sat in her classroom, but I can remember it like it was yesterday. Mrs. Herrera came to my wedding, visited me when I had babies, and still sends me a Christmas card every single year. I absolutely loved her as a student and appreciate her even more as an adult.
Did you actually just say that giving children responsibility is handicapping them? These must be the type of people my grandparents warned me about….
I absolutely agree with you, Valerie!!!!!
Wow…didn’t read all the comments, but…birth control…really? Some people lack any semblance of manners.
Back to topic.
I’ve seen a few comments that this list is ridiculous.
Let me say, I’ve seen the children who grew up doing chores and children who did not do chores until they were older. The ones who did chores starting from an early age have greater maturity and a better grasp of responsibility than the ones who did not have chores until they were teenagers. I challenge any person who disdains chores for young children to run a comparison of the two groups (chores and no chores) when these kids reach high school. The difference is stark.
I didn’t start chores until I was 6, and that was already too late. Laziness and lackadaisical had already set into my character. It took many years of hard life to bend me to handle responsibility.
I’m not blaming. Raised by a single mom who worked 60 hours a week to make ends meet, she tried but didn’t have the time to enforce chores. She made sure, however, that my life was going to be easier than hers, so now I have the opportunity to make sure my children will not suffer the same. Lord willing they will not. I have the time (thanks to the grace of Yah and my mom’s hard work) to be there for my children to teach them responsibility, one way being through chores.
I’m very thankful this list is NOT ridiculous! It’s great to be affirmed that I’m not being to hard or too soft. Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing!!
I believe that as adults we analyse things a bit too much. Chores can be fun, and children don’t even understand that the activities that they are doing are actually “chores”. My 4 year old daughter wants to help in the kitchen when I am cooking. I don’t ask her if she wants to mix, whisk and roll pastry. She does so herself and gets upset when I don’t involve her. She has her play time and TV time as a treat watching Disney Channel but she can tidy up after herself and her little brother. My 15 month old son, who is quite a strong character loves to put his dirty diaper in the bin, and his clothes in the laundry basket at bath times and in the mornings when his PJs get changed. The glee on his face is amazing. My husband and I encourage both the children and clap on. My toddler son gets so happy and proud that when he throws his diaper in the bin or his clothes in the laundry basket, he claps for himself. Teaching children can be fun and boosts their self esteem. Who wouldn’t want to be like mommy or daddy and do grown up stuff? They certainly do. I could easily pull the diaper and dirty clothes from my little guy and say, no this is for mommy, you just go and play. This would actually be unfair and there would be tears. If we looked at the children’s involvement to do these tasks as a stepping stone to their self confidence and self reliance, we are telling them that we love them and are happy that they can help. Does wonders for them.
Yes, I do remember growing up. I remember doing my own laundry at a young age, taking care of animals, washing dishes… working together as a family. As a young child I didn’t start off doing chores alone, one of my parents did them and I helped with the easier parts until I was old enough to do it by myself. As far as a 3 year old carrying firewood there is nothing incredible or terrible about that. My son is 4 and has been “carrying” in firewood since he was 2. When Daddy or Mommy goes out to get wood for the day he has always enjoyed carrying one or two small sticks or pieces of kindling. It makes him feel so helpful and proud of himself!
Beth Garcia says
Thank you Jennifer. Obviously you don’t spend all your time online. I have 8 children myself (only 3 left at home) so I know how busy you are. Your blog is fabulous and your replies incredibly kind. God bless you as you raise hard working productive kids who love Jesus.
As a mom, my primary job is to love and nurture my kids and teach them how to be responsible adults. Chores are necessary and correct, but not when Mom is sitting on the couch and the children are racing around doing HER work before they are allowed to play. (I’ve seen it!) My son is 12 and he makes his bed, puts his laundry away, helps with dishes, sometimes shovels snow, and that’s all I expect of him. He attends school 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, plus has homework and other extra-curricular activities. It’s my job to take care of him….period. He’ll grow up knowing that Mom provided nourishing meals and a clean, safe home. I raised my girls (now grown and married) the same way and they are VERY capable adults who take very good care of their homes and families.
I think learning to take responsibility for mess they make along with the general comfort of the house is an essential lesson to be learnt as early as possible. My daughter, 18 months, already puts her rubbish (eg banana peel) straight in the bin unprompted, and my son, 3.5 years enjoys doing the hoovering. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t do a perfect job, he has the right attitude, that’s something I want to encourage. I don’t to press him to help around the house, he just loves to help and be involved. We tidy toys away together before getting any new toys out, that’s just what has to happen and to him that’s fine. Last night he came into the lounge and said to his grandfather “don’t worry Babar, I’ll tidy the mess because I made it”. I’m very proud that he’s already taking responsibility for his actions.
[In response to KM] Please do unsubscribe, this site may be a little too much for you. A suggested chore chart is always a controversial subject. Lol
Beth Garcia says
Just wondering what happened to my comments made earlier today. I had two comments. One replied to Susan and one to Randy Mathers. I do not believe they were offensive in nature so I was wondering why they were not posted. Thank you
Jennifer Flanders says
Sorry, Beth. Those were great comments. I’ve been receiving so many, it takes me a little while to approve them (the kids keep me busy schooling during my daylight hours :-), so I’m only now getting back to reading through them). They are both published now, but unfortunately, I’m experiencing some sort of glitch with my WordPress right now, so they are not nesting properly under the comments to which you were responding (assuming you hit “reply” to Susan and Randy specifically, rather than just typing into the comment box at the very end of the comment section). If not, you can try cutting and pasting into the proper thread, and if that works, I’ll erase the duplicates that are not where you really wanted them.
Shanon Crawford says
I am trying to instill these things into my kids…. on my own…. and I hope one day they can thank me for teaching them to be self sufficient….
KM Hess says
Since you chose not to post my input, please remove my name and email address. So much for freedom of speech. Guess you won’t post this message either.
Jennifer Flanders says
Sorry, KM. Your first comment (“This list is a bit overboard. Try birth control.”) got deleted for being a bit off-topic. If by “remove my name and email address,” you mean that you’d like to unsubscribe from my mailing list, I’m afraid you will need to do that yourself by clicking on the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the next update you receive. I am unable to do that for you, or I would gladly honor your request. Blessings!
Debi Swoards says
i think this list is ridiculous. My children did not do chores until they were teenagers. SMH
Jen Asselin says
I’m in my 40s now and clearly remember ‘growing up’. At 10 I was push mowing other people’s flat yards for cash. I was also washing dishes, vacuuming the house, cleaning my bedroom, changing sheets, and occasionally helping to start dinner. And yet, all of this wasn’t a drop in the bucket compared to the work my parents did. By the time I left home I was completely self sufficient in running a home, managing money, running my own business, volunteer work, etc. Id like to THANK my hard working parents for teaching for us how to do things, for giving us EARNED confidence and for helping us to be well rounded for life with lots of fun and relaxation for balance.
I didnt have chores growing up as a kid, but I had grandparents who owned their own business and taught me the importance of hard earn money. with those teachings over the years I would take on responsibility around the house mow y he lawn, help with dishes, clean my room…..and now that I am all grown up, I have held down 2 jobs….been a full time caregiver to my parents, I am raising 2 kids and I am a wife. I am teaching my children the same principles I was taught from my grandparents. I am very grateful for those teaching, because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be the hard working woman I am today.
Teresa Thompson Loves Being a Mom says
I agree with you. As a high school teacher, it saddens and frustrates me to no end, when parents forget the nature of their role as parent and guardian.
Teresa Thompson Loves Being a Mom says
MY 12-year-old is more responsible than some adults I know: She comes home, calls me to let me know she is home, puts laundry away, puts dishes away, sweeps the kitchen, and does her homework, all before I get home. She vacuums, does dishes, feeds the animals, gets up for school on her own, and watches her brother when I need her to. She is awesome. My 4-year-old is more helpful than most teens. He cleans his room, makes his bed (as best he can), puts clothes in the rooms they belong after I fold them, puts pots and pans and silverware away, sweeps, and vacuums. I would be a rotten parent if I didn’t teach my children how to be self-sustaining.
Beth Garcia says
Susan, your reply is hateful. It is perfectly fine to have a different opinion but the way you state it is important. Telling Jennifer to spend less time online so she would have more time to do her own chores is hateful. To imply that having so many children is wrong is hateful. Simply stating how you want to raise your children would have been kinder. It isn’t that you have a different opinion that bothers others but you felt the need to tear down in the process. Jennifer did not even talk about how other people teach or raise their children she simply responded to inquiries on chores in her own family hoping to help other parents who wanted the suggestions. With ten children she quite obviously has plenty of experience to speak from.
Brenda Levy Tate (@faranya) says
Within the home itself, there are many age-appropriate tasks that children can tackle and this is an excellent chart. But my favorite comments are the ones about living in the country and doing farm chores. If you’re a rural resident with livestock in the barn and all the associated work that goes into tending it, then your kids will probably grow up very much used to doing plenty of physical and mental work. It’s part of their life. My grandson loves their barn and its residents (he is not quite three) and he “helps” within his own limits. The parents must ensure safety is a priority, of course, but country kids pretty much understand the value of routine and effort right from the get-go. As they grow, they can do more complex tasks.
You could add things like “fence patrol”, measuring grain, stacking hay (for older ones), grooming, feeding, collecting eggs, tidying up the feed room, filling water buckets, keeping accurate production and breeding records, helping with veterinary calls when possible, preparing an animal for show or sale, checking expiration dates for various meds in the barn fridge. Some have noted 4-H – and it is wonderful for instilling a sense of responsibility! The record-keeping is a necessary part of being in a 4-H livestock program. Even the youngest club members can accomplish a great deal and they also learn from the older kids.
Other occupations also give children early exposure to and experience at doing very useful jobs. Fishermen’s/fisherwomen’s children often become familiar with boats and everything connected with them, at young ages. Again, appropriate safety measures must be taken, but it’s amazing how quickly a little one will learn how to do simple chores around the wharf, just by watching and then imitating. I live in a fishing area. The sea becomes a natural work environment for young people when it’s the means of a family’s livelihood.
Rural and urban families inhabit two distinctly different worlds when it comes to raising children. There are common elements to both but the differences definitely affect the way each child develops and matures.
Beth Garcia says
I am not sure where you stand spiritually Randy, but if you love Jesus, I would just remind you of the verse that says: Be Ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ sake has forgiven you. Ephesians. These parents writing here love their children and are doing their best to raise them to be responsible, contributing members of society. We live in a country that is quickly being overrun by the takers and pretty soon, unless things change, there will not be enough givers to carry the load.
It’s necessary to teach basic safety rules, and most kids probably need to start off first by helping an adult cook and then by cooking under adult supervision. How much they can safely do varies from one child to another. But I was cooking at that age, without a problem. (The food wasn’t always the tastiest, but that’s part of the learning process.) Because I started learning to cook when I was a boy, I’m able to cook for myself today.
Tara Salvi says
Thanks for writing this up! I pinned it for later as my 9 month old isn’t that helpful around the house (yet). DH and I have agreed that he’ll be responsible for some chores around the house to earn his allowance, the same way I grew up. When I was a camp counselor many years ago, I had my 5 and 6 years olds help me clean the lodge. I told them the rule was “You don’t have to clean what you can’t reach.” I turned my back and the next thing I knew, I had little girls standing on chairs trying to wash the windows. Little ones love being helpful, if you let them!
I have two children (one boy age , one girl age 19), one stepchild (man age 27), one child’s boyfriend (age 20) in my field of observation. Two of these were expected to participate in chores (pretty much in line with the chores on this chart, in fact, at pretty much those ages) and–as a RESULT–are quite different creatures than the two who were not. Two of them feel confident and capable of learning what they need to know to do what they need to get done. Two of them hold down jobs, keep good grades, pay for their own gas/insurance/spending money and half of their college expenses and have satisfying social lives. These two have career plans and are well on their ways to accomplishing them. Both will jump in and help someone who’s moving/sick/got a dead battery without being asked, with a smile. They’re not perfect–they still have late-teen attitude issues and blindspots to overcome–but they make their folks proud.
The other two have every want supplied by their parents, both thoughtfully drop their laundry off so their mom can do it for them on Sundays after she gets home from church (both moms work full time), both live in what can only be termed squalor in quarters paid for by parents (but not the family home), both drive extravagant vehicles paid for by parents on gas supplied by a parental credit card, both have every known “upgraded” piece of technology known to man.
Interestingly, both are “loners” who just can’t find the “right” career and so keep taking this class and that, getting this degree and that, blaming everything on their professors/bosses/friends/PARENTS when the “dream” doesn’t materialize out of thin air. These two will stand and watch as a much smaller female struggles to carry a load, drive by a friend in need, and pretty much live with their noses in technology (again, supplied by their parents). Oddly, BOTH moms have actually APOLOGIZED to me that their sons don’t come up to the other two in character or achievement, expressing ruefully that they WISH THEY’D DONE THINGS DIFFERENTLY.
Please reconsider what you’re trying to do (raise considerate, functioning, independent adults or whining, oversized bottle-fed babies?) and change what you’re doing to accomplish the goal!
“They are not my personal slaves I am theirs…”
I feel sorry for your kids now, you later (when you realize you’re being run to death), and them always. Our job is to ease the kids into adult responsibilities in age-appropriate steps, not be their personal slave until we die
How unkind they will think you to die and leave them without anyone to take care of them when they are “only” in their mid-50s!
My kids–now older teens–used to fuss and fume that NObody else in the world has to do (fill in the blank with everything from “do their own laundry” to “pay for their own gas”), yet they are quite proud of themselves NOW that they can peel a carrot, manage a job/school with good grades/social life, mend a torn item of clothing, balance a budget, etc.
You are handicapping your kids, plain and simple.
I was thinking the same thing!
Amen Betty…I recently let a nephew move in with me. Before buying him a plane ticket, I made it clear that he would be expected to either work or go to school or both. That he would have some responsibilities in the home. I even had him two jobs lined up and he was too lazy to even follow up on either of them once he arrived! I haven’t been able to get his lazy [self] off the sofa and have tried every method I could think of…from being nice to being very blunt! All he wants to do is play games on his computer all night, sleep all day, text his friends, [etc.]! Needless to say, he now has a plane ticket back to his origination point! Furthermore, he’ll not be welcome back in my home until he can be respectful of everyone and everything in the home, including my dogs, friends and family. If he can’t step up and take some responsibility, he can’t stay in my house! I’ll not be his enabler…it’s time for him to grow up and take some responsibility! I was doing most of the things on the list by 10 years old…my father was killed when I was 8 and my mother had 4 children and a full time job. The kids were expected to pitch in and help out around the house. I was doing comparison shopping by the time I was 4, she would pull up to the grocery store and hand me the list and I would do the shopping while she ran errands or kept the other kids in the car. It helped that I could read and knew how to count money, etc.. Parents are doing their children a huge disservice if they enable them to be lazy bums as a child…they will likely be lazy bums later in life!
Descendant of Slaves says
Thanks for the complement. I was responding to an earlier comment by “Debbie” and her supporters. Thank you again.
As a 20 yr old who can’t cook a complete dinner or trim hedges, I am quite ashamed.
Cricket R. says
I have been contemplating age appropriate chores for my four children (ages/sexes: 11yo/girl, 9yo/girl, 6.5yo/boy, 5yo/girl). I kept thinking back to my childhood, growing up in the 80s and 90s. When I was 11yo, my Father became very ill and spent several months in the hospital, forcing my Mother, who was a stay at home Mom, to enter the work force. That left my older brother, younger sister and I with all the cooking, cleaning and other “Mom” chores, to complete during the week (my Mom would do the regular housework on weekends when she wasn’t working, and we had our own “weekend chores). And we did them! We knew that if we wanted to go to a friends house to play, or even just go outside to play, our chores needed to be done first. During the summer, we split our 1 acre of land into three parts, each mowing with a gas powered push mower (we learned how to check the gas levels, check the oil, and start the mower). In winter, we all helped shovel the driveway. My kids have friends that come over and ask my kids why they have “so many chores”, and it makes me proud to hear my kids say that it’s their job, not mine, to clean up after themselves, and to pitch in to make this a happy, clean, homey house! Then they go over to a friends house and come home with “horror” stories of how selfish, misbehaved, rude, and messy their friends are!
My older girls want an allowance like their friends, however, their friends simply get an allowance at the end of every week, unless of course they’ve been “naughty”. That will not fly in my house. My 11yo has to clean her room, clean upstairs bathroom and help her 9yo sister wash dishes one night a week (Fridays). My 9yo has to clean her room, clean downstairs bathroom, and help her older sister with the dishes one night a week. The bathroom cleaning is only once a week, if they need to be cleaned during the week, I do that. All four children help me fold and put away laundry, they all help bring in and put away groceries, my two oldest girls make wonderful scrambled eggs, my son and youngest daughter love to stand on stools and help me by stirring pots while I’m cooking. Starting this week, my oldest will be helping with meal prep. They all pitch in to take out the garbage, sweep/mop floors, vacuum, dust, etc since I have Fibromyalgia, and some days doing little things hurts too much, or wears me out too much. They all help (and LOVE helping) gather eggs, feed and let out/put away our chickens, feed the cats or dog. We also have an “Uh-Oh” bin. If they leave a toy or something out and I or their Father pick it up, it goes into the bin and they have to do a chore in order to get it back.
Thank you for this list! Many of the things on it my children already do, but I’ll definitely be saving this as a go-to for future reference.
BTW: I read the chore list to my oldest daughter, then asked her if she thought you were a “bad Mommy” for having your kids do those things. I also asked her: “How would you feel if, instead of teaching you to do your own laundry, cook basic meals, do dishes and clean the house, I did it all for you. Then when you reach 18 or 19 and went off to college, not knowing how to do any of these things, would you thank me for “letting you be a kid”, or would you be upset that I never taught you them?” to which she replied after some thought, “I’d probably be upset that I didn’t know how to care for myself.”
Sheryl James says
I think this list is awesome. ..I already have my 4year-old doing the chores on this list and it started by her wanting to imitate me around the house. I think kids doing chores teaches good work ethic and time management skills. It gives them a sense of accomplishment and great ways to channel all that abundant energy they have. When my daughter and I do chores together its a great way for us to bond….and leaves me more time to do things that she loves. I say its a win win for everyone
And when the accident happens….(bulbs/lawn eg.) ….call a rescue team and cry !
there are so many safe things they can do….this illustrations for me is interesting in the sense it is an humoristic picture from the 60’s 🙂
We translated the table in Italian too.
If you give me an email address, I’ll send it.
Jennifer Flanders says
Thanks so much, Renata. I’d love a copy of that! You may send it to flandersfamily(at)flandersfamily(dot)com.
I’ve met enough people who either had chores as children or didn’t have any to know that those who had chores growing up to be better adults. Please, tell me about one kid who grew up to be nice, selfless, responsible adults who didn’t have chores growing. Chores = responsible parenting.
Karen Kemmis Poulson says
Perfectly said Molly! My 4 yr old granddaughter LOVES to help me cook. I would never set her free in the kitchen at this age but by allowing her to help at a young age (and have fun at the same time!) she is learning life long skills. My own son learned to mow the lawn when he was 8 years old -supervised of course-and by the time he was 13 he was mowing lawns as a small business and also as a free service for a few disabled people. He is now 24 and an exceptional and responsible young man. All 4 of my children were expected to do ‘chores’ each morning before school and loved to come home to a clean house where they could bring their friends. They all learned to cook at my side and when they got a little older they had one night a week when it was their turn to plan the menu and cook dinner-with my help. We had FUN! They are ALL now hard working, respectful young adults who know the value of work but also know how to have lots of fun doing it! Thanks to Jennifer Flanders for a great article!
Heavens above! My stepbrothers were out earning extra spending $ by cutting the neighbors’ lawns by the time they were 10 — and that 30 years ago with less ‘safety’ equipment than we have now.
Connie Delong says
The parents that think that we have our kids do everything on the list above clearly don’t have much logic which is why they struggle with the chores concept. In our house we have a chore jar. We take slips of paper and we write down the daily chores that need to be done every day for the house to run and stay fairly clean. Then ALL of us draws out 3 for the entire week. This does nit include the bedrooms. We feel that as long as the rooms are not a fire hazard its their stuff and their problem. We deep clean them on the weekends together if they need them, when we have more time. We make it fun and exciting. We turn up the music and just get it done. It builds up suspense because we Don’t know what we will get. Sometimes we each get an easy chore sometimes we each get a harder chore. The kids always know that if they don’t know how or its too hard on their own their parents will always be willing to Help or even an older sibling. We also know that the first couple times that they do something it wont be done right and its ok and they will learn. In my opinion I believe that sometimes it would be easier if I just did everything myself instead of guiding and going behind them to show them, to teach them how to do things…BUT then what would they learn…I would feel sorry for their Spouses or room mates. Children that do not learn how to help with chores are more likely to be unorganized in many aspects in their lives. It doesn’t just teach them how to wash a dish or how to make a bed it teaches them how to manage their time and be accountable for themselves….it teaches them…GASP responsibility…LOL!
Oh and how long do you think it takes to change a roll of toilet paper? To make a bed? To take their dirty clothes to the laundry? To set the table? Now how long does it take us moms to take them to soccer practice and games or dance class, or how much energy does it take from us to read stories or go shopping for them when they want something just because not for birthday or Christmas. If your always doing for your kids but they Don’t have to lift a finger to help at home then your Rasing them to be entitled. I tell my kids I am happy to read bedtimes stories to those who have their chores done. if they don’t get their chores done by that time I use that time to do the chore. They learn Quickly that mom does things for kids that help!
Yeah, that’s why we all had kids, and why our parents had kids, and those before them, so on and so forth. Just in order to have little people do things for us. Gosh I feel like royalty! I mean doing a few things off this list occasionally means they take care of the whole house, right? 🙂
I can just prop my feet up and point a finger when they miss something! Man life is good, with 3 kids I’ll never have to do anything again!!!!! O_o All that childbirth pain, and complications was just part of the big plan.
(This was in response to Brizz. Not sure why it didn’t put it in the right place. But oh well.)
Jennifer Flanders says
I figured as much, but I couldn’t move your comment there myself. When replying to another writer, you must hit the “reply” button under their comment for it to go on the same thread. If you want to cut and paste your above comment as a reply to Brizz, I will delete this one.
Having lived both in the US and out of the US, there might be some cultural things going on here. Lighting in many other parts of the world is different. Up on the ceiling, connected to the Mains power, requiring ladders even for adults. My kids are good and we like to stretch them….but on the whole, there is no way changing light globes wouldbe safe for an eight year old in Australia.
Jennifer Flanders says
Oh… maybe that explains it. When I say my eight-year-old loves to change our lightbulbs, and I let him do it, this is what I have in mind:
He dashes upstairs to get a new bulb the minute he notices an old one is burned out. I seldom even have to ask. He turns off the lamp, unscrews the old bulb, replaces it with the new one, then switches the lamp back on. It is really a very simple matter. Obviously, not so for the lights you use in Australia. Thank you for clarifying.
You are just awesome, I love your comments, be pleased to know you and many other people like me know well that u are so right, but being out here online give the chance to … people put in doubt the good things u have post, I just said well done! And thanks!
Is gathering firewood done frequently enough where it should be labeled as a chore?
Jennifer Flanders says
Bringing in firewood is more frequent a chore in the wintertime than raking leaves in the fall or weeding flowerbeds in the spring. Even so, all are things that must be done (“chores”), and all are things my children regularly help me do (“age-appropriate”), so I included all of them on my list.
yeah! I have to disagree here! My daughter accidentally electrocuted herself, 15 years old. I’m personally not comfortable with 8.
My children are the same we are in UK. They don’t finish school until 3.10 they also do cheerleading classes, Guides and Brownies, Drama club, Morris dancing and karate they all have homework and supervised reading for the two younger (10 & 5) ones.
The eldest (12) also has to do at least 3 extra curricular activities at her school so she has art class, music class, and Debating class until 4.15 then gets her bus home has her tea then goes to her other classes.
Like yours they feed and walk the dogs, Feed and clean out the Guinea pigs (two eldest) and hamster (youngest) and at weekend they do other jobs for their spends the youngest is great at sorting washing and pairing socks, my 10 year old is great at disappearing and the eldest makes good scrambled eggs and absolutely crap coffee.
But they are great girls, outgoing, happy and a little bit silly.
They are not my personal slaves I am theirs and I wouldn’t change that for any thing.
Jen L says
I agree with the lightbulb, but not all the chores on their would I say are stupid. However, I wouldn’t be letting my 8 year old son change a light bulb. Nor use an oven to bake cookies or a stove to cook eggs. He has MIXED them, but nope, not going near the stove top.
totally agree! I have a three and 5 year old who help with the laundry! They get their own dirty clothes and throw it into the washer and they help switch loads, fold and put away. The older ones are in charge of kitchen, trash and bathroom and they (11 & 13) have one night every week they have to prepare and cook dinner! Of course they completely do their own laundry, help with other’s laundry, and help with the 5 year old’s homework. I don’t think any chore is too hard…or scary without supervision (unless we’re talking mowing the lawn or something obvious — commonsense wise!)
I am 100% on the same page as you and love that you pointed out a term that people carelessly throw around — and most of the time just joking (which I think is worse). But where do you see her using the terms slaves and slavery? Your writing is beautifully put.
Descendant of Slaves says
I have to take issue with the use of the word “slaves” here, Debbie. Whatever any opinion on chores might be, it CANNAT be compared to slavery. Slaves work for the exclusive benefit of their owners, without fair compensation commensurate with what the labor market value will bear. While a slave might do any and all of the things listed above, the slave would get little or no benefit from the work. A child who sets a the family table can then sit and eat at that table. A slave cannot. A child who makes his or her bed can expect to sleep in it, whereas a slave may not even have a bed. Children who do chores in the home and are compensated with food, shelter, clothing, and protection, (and likely much more) are the envy of slaves who are subjected to all the work above, and likely more, without the benefit of any compensation or any hope of a change in their situation. All citizens of the US are the beneficiaries of the work of countless slaves, past, present, and l see no likelihood of change in the future. We vastly underestimate their contributions if we compare their work with that of cleaning our own toilets! Furthermore, if work for compensation is, by your definition, slavery, then we are all slaves. God help us if we can’t do something to help someone else along the way without expecting payment!
I love people who have children just so they can make them do chores. I’m so glad I only had to take care of my own [stuff] as a child and not clean up after lazy parents who CHOSE to have children. Do you make your older kids babysit your younger ones too?
Jennifer Flanders says
I think you got that backwards, Brizz. I have many chores, because I love having children — not the other way around. “Where there are no oxen, the stable stays clean.” (Proverbs 14:4) My house would stay clean, too, if there were no children living in it — but then I’d miss out on all the cuddles and kisses, all the joy and satisfaction that comes from raising capable, confident children.
Karen Strain Lopez says
I have enjoyed reading and agree that chores do not hurt anyone! Letting “kids be kids” does not mean letting them do whatever a kid would do… that would be dangerous!!! It means loving them and teaching them as a parent should do. I have been homeschooling for years and my kids have always helped out around the house…it seems that they really could have done more than I required. Kids today seem to be very lazy and self centered because of the breakdown of society and family. Long ago kids worked harder than ever…do some research. I saw such dedication in my mother and father to their families…not only helping with everything but giving all their hard earned money to the family. They grew up in the depression. They are 85 and 88 today and work as hard as they ever did. Their work ethics blow mine away. They are an inspiration to me. Some of the comments above have been rude and ignorant. I don’t understand that at all. We will never ever agree on everything but I do know that children that are home schooled are blessed to be able to stay in the nest close to the breast longer than other children and in this hard cold world that to me is the richest blessing of all. God Bless Parents Everywhere… we need it and so do our children.
Farm School Marm says
Susan, you write, “I’m NOT sorry for letting my kids be kids” just after writing, “My kids get up at 6:15, get to school at 7, get home at 2:45pm, and we have a snack – and sit down and do homework – because it has to be signed off on every night. My 2 kids are only in Kindergarten and 2nd grade – and I need to supervise their homework – and it takes about 1 – 1/2 hours – so now we are at 4:30. Now they are hungry – so we eat around 5, then they have 1 hour to play – then it’s time for baths – and in bed by 8pm. My kids are exhausted – they don’t say it – but I see it in their eyes.”
I would respectfully submit that your kids are not “being kids” – they’re being run into the ground just to learn basic academics. They’re only in Kindergarten and 2nd grade and yet the vast majority of their waking hours is spent on very basic academics and they’re exhausted. As the author already said, you are right that homeschooled children have more opportunity to not only make a mess in the house – but to clean it up as well – but they also have WAY more opportunity to “be kids” judging by the schedule you’ve provided here.
In reading the comments it seems that people who feel that young kids can’t do things are looking at it as if we are sending these kids out to do a chore without instruction, to do the chore the way an adult would do it, and expect it to be as good as an adult would do it. That is not the case at all. When my children cleaned the bathroom, I was in the bathroom with them. Cleaning along side them. I was sorting laundry along side the child that was emptying the washer into the dryer and my husband was mowing the lawn with them, actively helping. The problem for most parents that think this is too much is that they don’t want to be involved in the process. Yes, if you just send your 2yo out to get the firewood, it’s too much. If you all go out to get firewood, it’s not.
I agree with you Paula. Poor Debbie I think you are also contradicting the entire method. age-appropriate chores is in no way is it suggesting you make slaves out of your children whilst you sit gossiping on the phone and watching soaps all day. it’s different for every family but your contradiction is that you don’t agree with the list yet said “For sure picking up after they are done playing is great.” it’s a chore! Something they are doing for themselves to learn responsibility (great or small). Maybe your not clear on the word CHORE. That’s why you can agree to disagree with yourself. *blank stare* I surely will not run around after my 13, 17 or 18 year old to clean up every mess they make. what kind of mother would I be if i don’t let them clean up their own messes. They’d never learn to function as adults without someone doing something for them. Nice house or not… Doesn’t mean they are paying their bills on time and the house is not disorganized… btw a nice house can be an Habitat for Humanity home … NICE IS AN OPINION.
Change a light bulb at 8!!!!!! Because climbing on stools to reach and electricity isn’t dangerous at all!!!!!! What a ridiculous list! I’m all for childrens chores my children have certain things they do but that list is stupid!!
Jennifer Flanders says
I wish you could see the incredulous looks on my six- and eight-year-olds faces when I told them several of my readers think changing lightbulbs is much too difficult or dangerous a task for children their age. This is one of their absolute favorite chores, and they simply cannot fathom why people think such big boys as they could not handle so simple a task. I should probably video a tutorial, so that my kids, who are so well-practiced in this skill, could instruct other kids, whose parents have yet to teach them, how to quickly and easily switch out a burnt bulb for a fresh one. I can barely remember the last bulb I had to change out myself. They beat me to it, every time.
mommyblessed… you’re on the right track if i may say so. 2-3 year olds can do and usually want to do everything an adult is doing. they can surely help with some firewood. they’re not carrying in the whole tree all at once 🙂 my 4 kids do for themselves. even my 2 year old helps us set the table, fold laundry, empty washer and dishwasher and she feels good about it. they all did at that age. wanting to help is very a very good moral to instill in any/every child. if you do everything for them they never really learn to do for themselves.
@Randymathers of course the child would supervised and taught how to do this first, duh. And their are safe mowers/ non motorized for the super cautious. Unless your child is autistic or has a developmental disability there is no reason why an regular 10 y.o. wouId not be able to do this. i think you underestimate 10 y.o./ pre teen kids….
This does not take anything from their childhood. It is a skill, teaching them to be responsible and considerate, to help out and contribute to a group as willing participants. Too many parents ‘baby’ their children and wonder why they don’t want to do anything and are called the ‘lazy’ generation.
I have to say that I think chores are great for kids. It teaches them responsibility and makes them feel important in the family structure. A team. I do have to say after reading some of these comments I feel for America. Parents complaining that chores are too much, let kids be kids, there’s not enough time in the day, people spending too much time on the internet. I can say im a single mother, my daughter is in kindergarten. Shes also in ballet, hip hop, cheer, and were looking into voice lessons. She does her homework, does chores, and plays like a normal child. I work, i take her to all of this, and i play games, and have fun with her. We have the chores split up and my daughter isnt suffering. Shes not overworked, exhausted by the end of the day.i think there’s too many parents making excuses and then making excuses for there kids. Then there kids become more tired then the parents. Come on. Get up! Get active! Eat healthy! Work together! Pray! Its not as bad as its made out to be.
Well said Christi. It’s also especially important for children with special needs to be given tasks that will enable them to meet the challenges they’ll face through life. It all starts early, and that little bit of confidence gained from folding laundry with mom or doing yardwork with dad does wonders.
I don’t think they’re implying that a 3-year old is carrying a 15lb log of wood. Ironically, that’s the only chore my 3-year old isn’t doing in his age category, because we don’t have a fireplace. He’s doing some things already in the age 8-9 category (put away groceries, fold clean clothes) that he can manage at his size & strength. What’s more, he’s autism-spectrum apraxia. So what’s your kid’s excuse?
Before you bash one another any more, please read this short article. Then decide if your hurtful comments are worth it.
Jennifer Flanders says
Great article, Monica. Thanks for sharing.
Being a child is learning to be part of a family and society. It has nothing to do with what a family can afford or how many children they have. If you don’t show your child from a young age that they can be competent and can do tasks well, they won’t magically learn to when they “grow up”.
It has to do with giving your child a sense of belonging, a sense of responsibility, and a sense of ownership in the world.
A child who knows that there are consequences – you use the bathroom, so you clean the bathroom – is one who understands how life is. A good life requires hard work. This isn’t something to drop on them the day before the go off to college – it is a process that takes years and starts small.
A child who knows that they are helpful to those they love is one who understands that they can make the world a better place. They have something to work for – they know the joy of doing a good job and of helping others.
Being helpless, without ability, and unable to help her family is nothing I want my child to feel. I would hate for my children to feel that they can’t make a difference, even a small one, because I didn’t value them enough to teach them how to live their lives.
And I wonder why the high schoolers we hire can’t use a broom!
Randy mathers says
Are any of u parents or remember growning up? A 10 year with a power mower? Really! A 3 year old carrying firewood? I think u people should go get a real job instead of trying to tell real people in the real world how to live. If u want to give advice ask me first cause u need help.
my friends 7&9 year old boys push the lawn mower together. Its amazing how they work together.. kids don’t have to be lazy unless we teach them to be. Why can’t a 3 year old carry fire wood? Mine could … Give them the credit they deserve. They arent feeble. We are training for adult hood not forever children.
I am absolutely shocked that people talk about chores as “slave-duties” for kids. If you think your kids will be thankful for not making them do chores — it is ridiculous! They have to learn to respect their parents’ hard work. And when Mom asks for help, they have to help her. They are part of the family, they don’t need to take everything for granted….
Love the list, although we’re a suburban family & don’t have things like firewood, etc. to deal with. I’m ready to expand my kids chores a bit. Right now my 4 yo feeds the dogs in the morning & my 7 yo does it at night. I put away sharp or breakable clean dishes, then they take over to put away the sturdier stuff & silverware. They both sort dirty laundry, take turns helping me start the washer & empty the dryer. They help match socks & fold, hang & put away at least some of their laundry. (We usually race to see if they can get the stuff they folded put away before I finish folding the more complicated stuff.) They also love taking turns being the “weatherperson” and checking the next day’s weather, then setting out their own weather appropriate clothes the night before. My 7 yo also checks the mail at the end of our cul-de-sac. I like that you put basic cooking like scrambling eggs on there… I was doing that at 7, and I’m not sure if my 7 year old is quite ready to do it independently, but I do let my kids stir a simmering pot, etc. with close supervision. Will have to review the list more closely & get some new ideas.
I didn’t realize you had so many children, when someone posted this list on FB – I am not sure why your family is so big – but some of these things are to be expected in a large family – but some are just an invasion of a child’s life. Children should not be cooking, unless they are old enough – and they are at home by themselves, and need to eat. No kid should be mopping floors and cleaning toilets. Kids should be kids – they will have plenty of time to be adults soon enough. Doing all this – is losing out on their childhood – and likely make them become OCD about being clean all the time. I am only 1 comment, but I see you have commented many times on this – perhaps if you spent less time online commenting – you would have more time to perform these responsibilities yourself – which responsibilities they are – not the children. Kids should pick up their messes, and keep their rooms clean – that is it. Everything else – it the parent’s responsibility – whether they do it themselves, or pay to do it. If you can’t afford it – you should have thought about that before having such a large family.
As a kindergarten and first grade teacher, I could not disagree with you more. Doing reasonable chores under the kind of encouraging supervision that is described above gives children self-confidence, teaches them to be appreciative of the things they have, makes them better team players, and makes them feel like valued members of the family. The author isn’t describing using her children to get herself out of work – all of these chores would go MUCH faster if she just did them herself – she’s suggesting a pretty good recipe for raising capable, self-sufficient, and self-confident children who understand that they are part of the team, not the center of the universe. As an added bonus, a family that functions as a team gets things done quickly and efficiently, leaving much MORE time for all the fun stuff that you correctly point out is an equally important part of childhood.
I found this post the same way you did, on Facebook, and your opinions are just that your own opinions. Your post comes across as rude and insulting and I am not even the mother you are leaving this for. There are better ways of expressing your opinions without belittling others and if you were honestly attempting to sway their opinion you have only achieved the opposite which is galvanized them and others against your point. If you did not want to sway an opinion towards your way of thinking then why bother being posting in such a hateful manner? I think that speaks more about you than your opinions on others and the way they raise their children.
As a teacher I find it is important for children to have a BALANCE between play and responsibility. Honestly, children deserve to have parents teach them how to live as adults at some point in their life and not molly-coddle them. Children do need to be little and I firmly believe that they can learn a ton through play, which includes group and social dynamics. There are times in life where it is just the right thing to do to pick up a mess that may not be yours. With the right balance they can help clean, cook and do laundry and it can be a family building time of bonding instead of the slave-driving it appears you think they are describing.
Opposing viewpoints are fine, tearing each other apart as a parent is not. No one has the perfect solution and things can be stressful at some point for everyone, we are all better served by building each other up instead of tearing others down.
I didn’t think I was “hateful” – just honest. It’s just my opinion- and if you are going to list something like that- you need to be ready for someone to disagree, or else, why ask for comments? Why not just not allow comments? This is the problem with today – everyone is offended if someone doesn’t agree with “your” opinion. Hate is a pretty strong word, and I didn’t use anything hateful – at all. Sorry if your opinion is different. I was raised in a 5 sibling home – very poor, in a mobile home in the woods. We didn’t do many chores, maybe because we didn’t have very much, or many things – but we all grew up fine, and all but 1 of us turned out fine – owned up to our responsibilities, and were fairly successful, despite our very modest upbringing – and have great kids of our own. Again – if you don’t want comments – then don’t allow them.
I bet if you have children, they have and show no responsiblities for themselves or their actions. In reading the next comment, she was sorry she had no responsibilities! Children need this structure to teach them that they ARE responsible for their own actions.
Childhood is not just about play. It is also about acquiring the skills, and sense of responsibility the child will need as an adult. To suggest thirty minutes a day doing chores robs a child of his/her childhood is simply silly.
m rich says
Susan I came from a smaller family (traditional family of 4) with very hard working parents, My father was a military man and my mother a stay at home mom, however we were expected to do most of the chores on this list when we were old enough. Learning to cook young prepared us for adult life of cooking for ourselves and allowed us to spend fun times learning family recipes with my mom as a result my brother and I love to cook and are teaching both our children the same way we learned, Cleaning up after ourselves included washing our laundry because no one wore it but us, I cleaned the bathroom myself for the family and my brother took out the trash and helped mow the lawn the point of this was not to take away our childhood we still had a wonderful childhood doing the things children of the 80’s and 90’s did, it was to teach us teamwork, responsibility, and self sufficiency that my parents thought we would need when we were adults. My father made sure both of us knew basic engine maintenance when we got our drivers license and taught us how to make a basic household budget when we were 15. Everything they did taught us to take care of ourselves and helped lighten the load on our mother who when she didn’t have to do our chores on top of everything else in the house had more time to bake cookies for us, get up early in the morning to make us pancakes for breakfast on school days, and just generally spend time with us while we were children. If you enjoy and have the time to do everything in the home then that’s fine but don’t say some one is not being a parent when all she is making her kids do is learn how to take care of themselves when they are grown up.
I respectfully disagree- I feel that teaching basic skills through childhood leads to a more capable young adult. My husband was always shoved out of “his mother’s” kitchen, he never learned to cook even basic foods and so now cannot be left to even cook a simple side dish without my coaching him. I can tell you he is often upset and embarassed by his lack of knowledge in these simple things even though he is a smart man. Additionally part of childhood is learning, by example, by play and by participation, the JOB of a child is to learn. I think overall the chores were appropriate. Also they clearly indicated that you would of course take into account your specific child and their abilities to adapt the list to his or her maturity. I find children gain confidence by mastering new skills, especially skills they perceive as “grown-up” I’ve never heard a 15 yr old say ” Yeah I’m so proud of the fact that my mom does everything for me and I don’t know how to operate any appliance in our house!!!” but hey that’s just my opinion!
Au contraire mon ami. First of all, I do not believe the list is in anyway implying that one child do ALL of the things on the list at one time. It is merely suggesting chores that children at each age level are generally capable of doing. As parents, we must choose those things that can be handled by each particular child — giving every opportunity for the child to demonstrate ability.
When appropriate chores are introduced to small children, they begin to understand their own importance in the family structure and gain a sense of well-being and pride that they are able to help. Young children LOVE to do chores when the chore is presented as an opportunity for each member of the family to participate actively in one another’s lives. Responsibility is a good thing that brings a family together. Young children LOVE to please Mommy and Daddy. What better time to introduce chores!
Oneness in family is so rare these days. The fact that most families have only one or two children might be a factor. Children are taught by society through media and peers that they must have many sources outside of the family unit in which they must be engaged in order to fully develop socially. The “it takes a village” syndrome has become so integrated into our minds, that when we consider a family acting as a unit to complete household tasks, it seems strange. While it is okay to put a child up on a pedestal on occasion when reward is due, but to actively keep the child up on that pedestal might just inhibit the child from developing a healthy level of self-esteem. In addition, it prevents the child from experiencing a very important sense of oneness in the family unit. While divorce is another issue that sadly separates family members, not allowing children to understand that he/she is important to the function of the family does just as much to devalue the child’s connection and role in the family unit.
Now, what happens when kids aren’t given chores and a parent suddenly decides, “Your a teenager. It’s time you do your part to help!” Well, of course every family and child is different, but I must say, for the most part, when small children are not given responsibilities as a part of the family working and functioning as a household, introducing that thought pattern to a teenager is like adopting an alley cat and giving it a bath! It doesn’t go over well. Now that is not to say that a family cannot work together to learn those skills, but it is a whole lot easier when it is introduced right away!
The Lord allowed our family to be able to homeschool. Each of our children had chores — probably not as many as they should have really — but chores. Each was given opportunity to develop areas of interest, but not to the point where we were “go, go, go” all the time. Each developed amazing social skills. When we went out “in public” our children were always well behaved (not including our youngest brief stint of being a text-book two year old!) People noticed the difference between them and other children their age. Each had the ability as children to communicate effectively with people of any age and social standing — they could talk to another child, a bum on the street, or the Queen of England without inhibition. They rarely caved to peer-pressure and, though teenage years brought with our eldest a hormonal web of “drama-queen days,” it was nothing compared to what other friends were experiencing. AND the constant need to oil that squeaky wheel led to the younger ones to not ever have to go through that type of behavior. They learned from the trials of the eldest. How did that happen that they might learn and not have to face the same challenges? Well, that’s all a part of participating in a family. No secrets! It has it’s rewards! (That eldest is presently in college, married, self-supportive, mature, understands fully what she was like as a teenager, and, now, sees clearly why we pursued her as an active participant in the family order.)
When our youngest was young (maybe 7 or 8,) she, too, had certain days that she questioned the need for her participation in household duties. I would remind her that we all work together for the common goal. Like a well-oiled machine, when each member is doing her part, there is more time for “fun” and “games’ in the long run. (When families have to fight a battle to get the house clean and meals prepared, or the house is left as a “wasteland” by the time the “arguing” is over, it’s time for bed!) Then, I would ask her if she, by her own desire, was choosing not to be a part of our family. That was all it ever took. That is a deep thought for a child — I know — but it offered clarity and an important understanding.
Do you want teenagers who back talks and act out in rebellion? Do you want kids who have no connection to a family unit, who move out, and forget to visit you when your old? While giving chores offers no guarantee against either, it does provide a better opportunity for the opposite. So many other parental-behavior facts play a role in a child’s upbringing and subsequent teenage behavior, but, I assure you, giving your child chores will not do them harm — WHEN the appropriate chores are given at an appropriate age.
The list here is intended to give you “ideas” of what types of chores you might just consider for your own little ones.
PS: Send me your two year olds…It’s really cold this week. I could use the wood carrying skills! lol But seriously, carrying a log in from outside and watching mommy or daddy start the fire in the fireplace, that is a THRILLING time for a kid!
Many blessings to all! Happy CHORES to you and your kids!
Jennifer Flanders says
Thank your for that very articulate response. It’s cold here this week, too, and my little ones have been volunteering with great enthusiasm to help me start a fire every morning. The three-year-old helped clean out the fireplace this afternoon, and when her eight-year-old brother found out, he was shocked and disappointed that I hadn’t called him to do that job. He’s already called dibs on doing it tomorrow.
I grew up living on a farm and had lots of chores to do. When I was 6 I stood on a stool to iron pillow-cases, farmer hankies, dish towels, and bed sheets. I also was required to wash dishes after dinner at that age. It didn’t kill me. I had TONS of play time and I remember my childhood fondly. When I became an adult, I was able to live on my own without struggling with how to do things. When I was raising my kids, they were required to do many of the chores that are on the chart above – although I will say the ages on the chart seem a bit young for many of the chores listed. My kids are now all young adults – ages 27 to 22, 2 girls and 1 boy. They have all thanked me and their dad on many occasions for making them learn how to do all those hateful chores because now they work and live with [roommates] who don’t know how to do anything and have no work ethic.
I have been in a committed relationship with a man for the past 6 years. He has twin daughters, age 23, who can barely take care of their own needs. One of them can cook a couple of dishes and bake cupcakes, the other can only manage frozen waffles! They live like slobs and when they stay with us they wait for us to prepare food for them, leave their dishes and glasses all over the house, and in general, leave the house a pig sty when they depart. They spent their entire childhood playing and never had to do anything as regular chores. My kids are appalled at their lack of living skills. Soooo….the moral of the story is, while I don’t think kids have to do all of the chores listed on the list, it’s essential that they learn basic living skills completed to reasonably high standards – which also prepares them for expectations that an employer will likely have of them in the future. Comparing my kids to my partner’s daughters, well, I’m really grateful that we made them learn how to become responsible adults through chores when they were young. And they’re glad too. That’s even MORE satisfying.
I love this! I was raised in a house where I had no chores so when I was out on my own I had no idea how to do anything… My 2 yr old and 4 yr old have a chore chart that they complete each day. My mom was so surprised that my 2 year old put her plate by the sink without being asked and helped me move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. I WISH I had been given chores as a child because it was a real struggle having to teach myself how to cook and clean when I was 18 when I went off to college.
I had no trouble. I learned from watching my Mom.
This is a good chart to start with, I just had to change some things because my households kind of different. Like we have no firewood lol.
But to the individuals that find this abusive or individuals that say my mommy did everything & I still grew up clean? Um maybe you think so but your interpretation of clean probably isnt even close to the real definition of clean. ive been in the military for 10 years & majority of the barracks if it wasn’t regularly inspected would just [be indescribably messy], alot of people dont know how to use a washer till boot camp. Military housing id say was more nastier though. You walk into a house with your shoes on which im not accustomed to but if you take your shoes off your socks turn black. Hair all over the floor. There couch smells like dog urine but there telling you how they clean all day. Closets stuff with things, they cant even answer simple questions like whens the last time you shampooed your carpet, or how often do you wash your bed sheets, or whens the last time you sanitized your kids toys. but there always out on a play date or watching the latest show. Out of lets say 100 houses probably 10 are actually clean in my housing. & maybe 25% of the parents actually supervise their kid when their outside. So to the young individuals that say my mommy wipe my butt my whole life & doing chores as a kid Is abusive, join the military than sit there and wonder why your barracks room is always failing inspection.
Have a productive & awesome day everyone
Farm School Marm says
LOVE this. Thank you! Ignore the naysayers – certainly, there are variables in each family, but this is a very realistic list to this mama of 7.
I’m sorry but I do not agree with this list at all. My children are my reaponsibility, I am their mom and therefor it is my job to care for them.
Little things that can made into a playtime is fine. For sure picking up after they are done playing is great.
But my kids have never had real chores.
All three are wonderful adults, hold full time jobs and seldome even miss a day. Two are married and live in a nice homes. Making your children into your personal slaves does not make them better people or more productive humans.
While your children are taking care of your house, yard and pets what might I ask are you doing?
Dee Gillin says
A to the men.
You are 1000% Write
No-one is forcing you or anyone to do this. No-one said your method of parenting is anyway wrong or harmful to children. This is just a list of suggestions….
Wow. “Personal slaves?” As a mom of (only) two, I sure have enough work to do even when my kids do their few chores. Plus it is my duty to teach them how to be functional adults; as they grow, we expect more of them in education, we expect them to be more responsible (and earn trust), and we nudge them one more step toward adulthood. Why wouldn’t that include teaching them how to take care of a home? They are not the *exclusive* workers in my home, but they CONTRIBUTE to the FAMILY in a proportionate, reasonable manner. If they want a small weekly allowance, they must contribute a bit. They also routinely ask for extra chores when they want to earn extra money for something special, so I doubt they are feeling like overworked “slaves.” And believe me, they are enjoying the things of childhood, like Scouts, performing arts and family camping. They are certainly not “personal slaves.” I refuse to raise kids who cannot take care of themselves when they someday move out on their own, or (God forbid) think it is only the Mom’s job to do all chores.
Well said Paula!
There is absolutley nothing wrong with teaching kids how to be responsible and how to take care of simple, basic, household chores. My kids unload the dishwasher, pick up trash (that they dropped) outside, clean their rooms(what they call clean and what I call clean are 2 different things) , and sometimes they’ll ask to dust a little etc. kids need direction, they need to know that life isn’t all about playing, games, and social networking. And that is what I hope I’m teaching my kids. If you ever look on youtube, Instagram, or watch some of these “vines” you’ll see that more kids need to have a few chores and less time to act like little brats. JMO, but a few chores helps prepare kids for adulthood just like practicing to drive prepares kids for driving, they don’t teach responsibility in school, it’s supposed to be taught at home, and in no way makes kids slaves by doing so. In fact you should take that back, because it’s waaaaaay out of line & judge mental.
My philosophy is that while no, you shouldn’t be making your child your personal slave, you should be teaching them responsibility. They are active members of the household and should be responsible for contributing to making sure that chores are done. Sadly, I’ve slacked on this with my kids and now they get mad whenever I ask them to pick up their toys. That’s my responsibility to fix, but you can find a balance between what mom takes care of and what children are responsible for. I don’t think it’s my responsibIility to clean my 7 year olds room when I don’t do anything to make it a mess and she is perfectly capable of cleaning it up herself. I don’t think I’m always responsible for say, getting my kids a snack, when they are physically capable of doing it themselves. How are they going to learn to do laundry if I always do it for them? You may have had success with doing things for your children and not expecting anything in return, and that’s great, but that certainly isn’t the case for other people. If I don’t make my daughter do chores, she gets lazy and bratty and expects me to do everything for her, and that’s not happening. So to combat that, she has responsibilities, and she doesn’t get to do whatever she wants if her responsibilities aren’t taken care of.
When children contribute to the household, they develop more self-esteem and learn that what they do is important to their family. What, may I ask are your kids doing while you slave over their every whim? Are they watching TV, playing video games, or otherwise learning to be of the leisure class. When should kids stop feeling entitled, and learn to do what it takes to be a grown-up? When my son went to college, he was well-prepared for adult life. He can cook and clean and knows how to pay his bills. When are they supposed to learn this? It takes a lot of training to become a competent adult.
She’s online….a big waste of time. I should have been doing laundry today, and there it sits, because being online is addictive at times. So I’m signing off now – to get MY responsibilities taken care of. Mother of 2. 2 kids – because that is all I can afford, and handle….if we all did things in moderation – life would be more manageable, and better for everyone. Kids included.
I think we are alone on this….so don’t bother. Maybe there is a difference – with kids that go to school – and those that are home schooled. There is a family down the street from me – and they are all home schooled – so they are home a lot longer, than my kids. My kids get up at 6:15, get to school at 7, get home at 2:45pm, and we have a snack – and sit down and do homework – because it has to be signed off on every night. My 2 kids are only in Kindergarten and 2nd grade – and I need to supervise their homework – and it takes about 1 – 1/2 hours – so now we are at 4:30. Now they are hungry – so we eat around 5, then they have 1 hour to play – then it’s time for baths – and in bed by 8pm. My kids are exhausted – they don’t say it – but I see it in their eyes. I would not ask them to do anything other than picking up their own messes – which trust me – is enough – it’s an on-going thing throughout the time they are home – sometimes they like to do things, but I never require them to do it. A child’s room is a mess – everyday – so keeping their room neat, and cleaning up after themselves – is enough for me. Yes, they feed the dog – but because they want to – not because I made them do it. My daughter cleans up after our puppy – because she doesn’t want him to get in trouble – but I don’t require her to. She dusts and vacuums her room – but I don’t require it – and because I don’t – then I give them a few coins to put in their bank for being helpful. Maybe teenagers are required to do things, but I’m NOT sorry for letting my kids be kids – and my kids are very nice – and thanks for assuming (the person ragging me on a previous comment) that my kids are monsters. That’s very open-minded, and mature.
Jennifer Flanders says
Susan, you bring up a very good point. Children who school away from home are gone for most of the day and often have an unconscionable amount of homework to do once they return. I can understand why you would hesitate to burden your already exhausted children with more routine chores. I think my own mother must have felt the same way, as she always insisted that my most important “job” growing up was studying hard and making good grades. Our home was always immaculate, no thanks to me. I realize (now) that it was probably easier to keep a place spotless when the family members who live there spend so few waking hours at home; nevertheless, I am ashamed as an adult that I did so little to during my childhood and (especially) teenage years to lighten the load for my own working mother. I might at least have rinsed out the dishes from my after-school snacks and loaded them into the dishwasher, but that was not my habit. My transition to married life, too, might have been a little smoother had I already learned how to do laundry, load (and run) a dishwasher, and prepare a few simple meals.
Great suggestions. I couldn’t resist a response:
Jennifer Flanders says
Very funny, Anna. Your two-year-old helper sounds a lot like some of the two-year-old helpers we’ve had in the past… like the one who once tried to feed our goldfish by dropping his pimento cheese sandwich and pouring a full glass of milk into the aquarium (that child is now in his second year of dental school). Or the one who “re-papered” my bathroom for me the night of our annual Christmas party (that one started medical school last fall). Or this child, who by the time he was a year old could already separate double-ply tissue into single-ply:
That was his idea, not mine (he’s ten now, and is very good at scrambling eggs, changing lightbulbs, and making peanut butter cookies, and also has many other, non-chore related talents 🙂 ).
Carol Paul says
love this list! We have been cleaning “as a team” in our house for 14+ years now…we get the whole house done in less than an hour each week (and that includes sheets & towels!) I don’t clean any other time and I never clean alone 🙂 Our kids LOVE it!!
Send me your address and I will send you our chart 🙂
Jennifer Flanders says
Will do, Carol. Thanks for the offer. I’d love to be able to be able to get this place spic and span in under an hour a week. That sounds almost miraculous.
THAT I would love to see… under an hour… 🙂
Jennifer Flanders says
Addie…Carol said she would send you a chart too if you’ll send your email to carol(at)TheTeamClean(dot)com
I love this! We have had a small business for many years. When our daughter was 1 1/2 she insisted on helping us carry the small boxes! (“I do it!”) By the time she was barely 4 she wanted to ship the packages, even though she wasn’t reading yet, she new all the letters and numbers and plugged them in the computer one by one. My husband checked all of her entries, but she never made mistakes.
Thanks for the list. Even though my kids are big (24 and 19) now, I printed it out. Good stuff to have on hand!
I just want to say I was never made to do any of this stuff but now I’m 17 I clean, my room, my bookshelves are tidy (& in alphabetical order, so are the DVDs). I dust, I make my bed, I even painted my room. And I did all this without being forced my parent’s never made me do chores and yet I can bake a cake that is to die for and I clean up after myself.
My parent’s did make clean up after myself and that’s what I do (mostly).
Because guess what? No teenager would want friends coming over and seeing there messy room with an unmade bed. So just saying you don’t have to make a child to do chores to make them responsible. As long as you teach them how to do it, then they will when they want to. This way you don’t make them grow up too soon, you let them mature in their own time
Jennifer Flanders says
I am happy to hear that you’re so conscientious about keeping your room tidy, Katie, but I suspect the fact that you are has more to do with the way you are wired than the way you were raised. I can assure you that some teenagers have absolutely no qualms about friends seeing their messy rooms. If all parents waited until their children felt like doing chores before requiring them to do chores, many of them would be waiting indefinitely (and still doing laundry and picking up after adult sons who spend their spare time playing video games in the basement).
Absolutely! If Mom does all the laundry and picks up after grown sons while they play video games in the basement, what is he learning about being a *husband*?
I have been looking for a list like this!! I just didn’t know where to start! Everyone needs to understand that this family may do it differently than what you would. Jennifer is just kind enough to open up her world to us and give us an idea as to is done in her household. That doesn’t mean you have to follow it step by step, every family is different! I am just glad that I have more of an idea where to start with my kids. Thank you!!!
I love this List and had to share it on my Facebook page with friends and family .I have 6 children age one through seventeen and come from a huge family. I’ve seen first hand how children feel so big and proud when they can help at any age .Nothing at all wrong with this list .Thank you for sharing it ….I only wish more people could see the positive side of it ..trying to or not we shape our kids today for their tomorrow ..So before bashing this post, ask yourself what do you want to come of your child tomorrow 25 going to a shrink co dependent /always relying on others for strength and help feeling depressed afraid if their alone they wont be able to cope ? or a strong-willed strong-minded man/woman that’s not afraid to face tomorrow with or without help ? I can’t speak for others but ask yourself this if knowing a person’s past and upbringing .which person would you count on if you ever needed a helping hand for anything .one brought up with this list ? or one who had no list more than likely needing your help more than you need their’s ? you don’t have to answer that as I’m sure I already know the answer …..Thanks for the list and the read. sorry I got a little carried away ……..
Jennifer Flanders says
I think in time of need, I’d turn to that first kind of person, Earl, and that’s definitely the kind of folks we’re trying to raise. 🙂
Cynthia Anne Womack says
Due to some physical impairment,I have never mastered some very basic life skills. (Don’t ask me to do needlework or create a flame with anything but a long firestarter.) But,I have done most things on your list from my early childhood. One thing my family required was spending time and funds on something we wanted BEFORE we got it. We would feed,groom and clean up after animals in shelters,etc.,save up money for vet bills and food,etc. before we got our pets home. We put aside money every week for gas and insurance and car payments before we learned to drive. This meant we knew the true costs and responsibilities involved with our heart’s desires before we owned them. By the time we were ready for that pet or dress,toy or car,house or trip,we had some cash and experience to apply to that ownership.
Jennifer Flanders says
Bet you appreciated and took better care of your things after having to work for them, didn’t you, Cynthia? Your parents were very wise to raise you that way.
I can’t even begin to explain how I disagree… This is not age appropriate. What is it, Shrute Farms? That’s crazy talk like you would find while watching The Office.
Jennifer Flanders says
We’ve been called crazy and compared to a lot of things before, Ryan, but you’re the first to ever put us in a category with Dwight Schrute. That made me laugh out loud. Thanks for the early-morning picker-upper. 🙂
My middle kids get credit for this meme. I had a different caption in mind (“I have my faults… but being afraid of hard work isn’t one of them.”) but they vetoed it as sounding “too polite for Dwight” and not really being funny.
I made all of my 3 kids do some kind of chores and they all keep their homes clean and are kind to others. My step kids had no rules, no chores and are 21 and 24 still live at home and do none of the things listed here. I have to do it all because they choose not to do anything now. I will stop doing it all soon and then what.
I really think that a lot of this is NOT age appropriate. No ten year old should be using a lawnmower. They are huge powertools that can cut off your foot! I know, because I got my right foot caught in one with I was 14 — and that’s a lot older than TEN. I don’t think any 2-3 year old should be carrying firewood. Geesh. Some of this is good, but some is just crazy. Those poor kids! You all are great and I love your philosophy, I just think that this list is not SAFE.
Laura Stevens says
Kids and lawnmowers are NOT a good mix. Sorry.Also no 6 or 7 year old has any business with a knife yet.
Farm School Marm says
Haha. Our 7yo asked for and received not one but three knives for Christmas. They remain in our bedroom and he only has them under supervision – but he very much appreciates being able to cut open hay bales, etc…while doing chores with his dad or I. Our youngest will be 4 in a few weeks and she has requested a wheelbarrow and manure fork so cleaning corrals is easier for her when she helps us. Our 5yo is begging to be allowed to milk the cow with me like her 7yo brother does. Our children all bring in firewood (beginning even younger than 2) and LOVE it. My then-6yo began mowing the lawn with me (gas powered push mower) last summer. After he learned how, I walked along with him through all of it and physically helped him when he had to turn. In a couple of years he will likely be able to do it on his own. Because he has received good instruction and had parental supervision for years, he is far less likely to have an accident than the kid who never received less instruction and supervision for years.
All of our kids have helped with chores (age-appropriate and with supervision) from the time that they showed interest and were remotely capable. I am SO grateful to that I have capable, responsible children who are more interested in contributing to the family in time and energy than sitting in front of the television or being shuttled to cheer leading lessons.
Certainly, to each their own, but most people who are negative about this list have never enabled their children to achieve these tasks at these ages. You would think they’d see the irony in criticizing those who are successfully training their children to be responsible for these tasks at these ages.
I agree w u. I was mucking stalls out by the time I could carry a shovel. I grew up just fine. I was training horses by time i was 3 w my mom. But it all depends on the child. But I agree w u.
In Japan they teach whittling around the age of 6 or 7.
People don’t give kids enough credit.
All of my boys ages 15, 13, and 10, have mowed the lawn by age 10. I stay outside with them but they love doing it and it was chore I never have to beg or threaten them to get them to do.
Also, all of my 4 kids loved carry firewood as soon as they were steady on their own two feet. We do not heat with wood now but when we did it was a family chore to stock the wood bin.
Heidi Enevoldsen says
Yeah, my son also loved helping with the firewood as soon as he was able to keep balance with a log in his arms. 🙂 He loved being a part of it. We don’t have a fireplace anymore, but when we did he automatically helped out. 🙂
With proper training from the parent and the maturity level of the child they can easily operate a lawnmower. I started at 8 years old and was taught the safety aspect of large power tools as well as up keep. I started cutting lawns in my community when I was 10 to make some extra cash. This list is a very good list.
Perhaps you’re envisioning two year olds carrying in a load of firewood, but picking up kindling and smaller pieces, even stacking firewood is feasible for them at that age. Growing up we heated our home with a wood stove and everyday we went outside and gathered the wood to be used that day.
Rudedog the man says
What world you live in…Im still alive…don’t shield your kids from a little chores…use your common senses……
slick willie says
I was cutting my yard at age 10 and started knocking on doors in the neighborhood and was cutting grass for old ladies up and down my street by age 12. I’m now 52 and I still have all my toes. Just because one child isn’t mature enough to handle a lawn mower at age 10 doesn’t mean others can’t.
I really think a lot of this is NOT age appropriate. No ten year old should be using a lawnmower. They are huge powertools that can cut off your foot! I know, because I got my right root caught in one with I was 14. And that’s a lot older than 10. I don’t think that any 2-3 year old should be carrying firewood. Geesh. Some of this is good, but some is just crazy. Those poor kids! You all are great and I love your philosophy, I just think that this list is not SAFE.
Jennifer Flanders says
Obviously the size and maturity of the child must be taken into consideration, Dodie. We are a big family, in more than one sense of the word. My babies are big at birth (only one was under 9 lbs, three were over 10). My kids are usually head and shoulders over their age mates. They are strong and healthy, and they want to do “real work.” So we let them. Here’s a photo of one of our 7-year-olds cleaning up the blender after making a smoothie. Doesn’t she look proud of the work she’s doing?
And here is one of our little ones toting firewood. All his big brothers and sisters were helping, and he wanted to be included, too, so we let him carry the smaller pieces. (We tried to talk him into just gathering kindling sticks, but he begged for a “real” log, so there you have it).
And incidentally, Dodie, our family tries to be very safety conscious, which is why we have never owned a trampoline, swimming pool, open balcony, or ATV.
And we have our ten-year-olds wear closed-toe shoes when they mow (with our NON-power-driven lawnmower).
Terri Whisante says
So, when your 2-year-old drops that firewood on his foot and fractures it and messes up the growth plate, he can have one shoe that fits a kid’s size 5 and a grown-up shoe for the other foot when he becomes a big boy. I’m sorry, but no 2-year-old should be carrying such a large or heavy object. The growth plates are a very important aspect of growing properly in children and a piece of firewood could do some heavy damage. And, I’d rather my 5 or 6-year-old get the mail and my 11 or 12-year-old peel potatoes rather than the opposite.
In our old house, it would have been safer for the 5yo to peel potatoes than to get the mail. Our mailbox stuck out into a 2 lane highway with high frequency, 65mph traffic. A lot factors into doling out chores =)
I agree. Of course, half of these are irrelevant for this day and age…. and I believe the tendency to do many of these things voluntarily is inborn. I had a friend whose 2 yr old boy lined his toys up perfectly on his toy shelves, just like his grandmother stacked her towels to perfection in a neat pile in the linen closet!
No worries Flanders family – Dodie is obviously a democrat. 😉
You are right on the money with your list. My 3 year old does things on the 4&5 and 6&7 list – because WE teach our children HOW to work, not sit on their butts. They are better off for it and enjoy contributing like you said!
I resent the ‘democrat’ remark. I am an aging-tree-hugging-hippie-liberal-democrat who taught my son to do all of these chores on this list; just as I was taught (and expected) to do when I was growing up. He never sat on his butt, in fact, he had a paper route as soon as he was old enough to get one at age 11 (encouraged by yours truly). Today he is a college graduate with a great job, a lovely wife, two awesome children and a beautiful home. Any good parent would want their children to grow up and be able to care for themselves and perhaps even have a better quality of life than they do/did. Please don’t be so narrow-minded that you need to stereotype a certain group of individuals. Thank you.
Jennifer Flanders says
Sorry about letting that slip through, Diane. When moderating comments, I usually edit out any foul language and/or offensive jabs at other readers. I don’t mind being criticized myself, but I would like to protect any visitors who comment on my posts from feeling attacked. You are to be commended for the job you did raising your son. I’ve met lots of hard-working Democrats over the years (and — sad to say — a few lazy Republicans, as well). Children who never learn to clean up their own messes and get everything they want without having to work for it may be more prone to develop an “entitlement mentality,” but I think that’s probably a bipartisan problem.
Elaine Fick says
I love the list. As a former preschool teacher I always had helper jobs for the children to do. If they didn’t have a job to do they were disappointed. The key is to lead by example when they are doing a new task. At any age the chore goes faster and more enjoyable when you do it TOGETHER! I know it’s not possible all the time but it beats constantly talking to or yelling at a child to get it done! I have had to many children attend preschool and Mom has done everything for them. I had to constantly tell parents to let their own child hang up their own coat and back pack. Chores teach children responsibilities and life skills!
Fully agree with this list. As the oldest of 12 kids being homeschooled in the country, my responsibilities far outweighed those outlined in this chart. Kids are capable of more than we give them credit for. My downfall is that I am so used to doing these things myself, I have neglected to instruct my 4 kids how. But they are fully capable! My 7 and 9 year old have taken initiative to empty and deep clean the fridge, my one son has been doing a thorough job of vacuuming from the age of 5 which included moving the furniture. I think we coddle our children too much, and I am as guilty as the next person. Going to print this off and show my kids 🙂
Erin G. says
Loved reading the comments as much as the post. Excited that this list is so close to Montessori ideas for independence and respect within the family. I think tasks around the house makes kids feel like an important part of the family. A lot of times kids don’t even perceive helping as “chores” or work, but rather fun and playing… esp. if mom & dad are right there working alongside. What an awesome environment to teach work ethic and respect!… Minus lectures, stress and power struggles-never pleasant or productive.
Love this!!! Children are more capable than a lot of people think! If we don’t teach them young-they won’t ever want to do for themselves much less others. It’s saddening to see such negative talk in regards to this. Exactly why teens these days-don’t want to seek employment & if they do-the work ethic is not so good. Thank You, Jennifer Flanders!!
Natalie Foster says
Thank you for confirming to my children they are not the only ones who do chores… yes and my mine were cooing eggs at 7-8 years old they also collected the eggs and fed the chickens . at ages 9 and 12 they can do just about everything. We have not allowed them to use the power equipment (weedeater, tractor , lawn mower yet,. My children even wait on customers when we go to the farmers market to sell and even handle money etc. We home school and my children get lots of life skills that many adults don’t know. thank you for the list
Great list, thanks for sharing! I grew up in a family where we share household chores too, when I joined early childhood education I do realized that there’s so much opportunities for the children to learn about life skills/practical life skills. Count me in!
Slavery was abolished long time ago.
Kids need chores at all ages. End of story.
Jeremy Wasch says
But teaching children to mature and be responsible has never ended! Our society and most of our parents need to stop teaching empathy and entitlement to children.
Indeed! I love this!
That’s why the whole family needs to pitch in on the chores, so not only the Mommy has to do them.
Plus, if the children are used to working for a “team”, they will be better employees later on and then… will be a better boss, when the occasion arises and will have compassion for their employees who also are working their way up in life.
How is letting your children do chores slavery?
Slavery was abolished….yet I am still in servitude….asking the “masters” aka the children to pitch in is not slavery. Oh, and it’s time for you to move out of your moms house…
Having kids do chores isn’t slavery… it teaches them responsibility. It’s not like people who have their kids do chores are beating them or forcing them to live in terrible conditions.
And if they are, I can guarantee that this list is nothing like that.
Cynthia Anne Womack says
Since we are all meant to be free people,we need to be able to do for ourselves and have the skills to aid others when we choose to do so. Being dependent on others is no less debilitating to the soul as being fixed in the role of chattel to do for others without thanks or compensation or choice when those we aid could do for themselves.
This is why kids in the country are entitled. Look at this list lol! Cracks me up. My 4 year old does chores on their 12 year old list. Actually she does ones on every single one of these “age appropriate” chose list. It is ridiculous. 4 year olds in every third world country are cooking and caring for their siblings. Believe me your 4 year old can mop the floor and load the dishwasher. It isn’t that difficult. It teaches them responsibility and accountability. It would be a disservice to society to NOT have your kids do chores and learn how to be a productive human. Get it together people. Ok lol, end rant.
You let your 4 year old mow the lawn…WOW!!
Pat Barconey says
A four-year-old should not be doing chores on the twelve-year-old list. You are overdoing it, Sara! Children in Third World Countries do those kinds of chores because they have no choice. Their parents have way more work to do than we do – hauling water, cooking everything from scratch, often no electricity, no refrigerator, no stove – not much. And chances are those children are not going to school either. Don’t use those children as an example that we should follow with our children. We do not live in a Third World County, thank God.
There is no reason why a four year old could or should not be doing some NOT all of the things in any of these age groups. If properly taught they can sweep floor, clean bathrooms(10/11) clean the counter(10/11), mop floors(12+) ,wash car(12+), wash windows(12+), dust furniture(8/9), put groceries away (8/9) , match clean socks(6/7), fold towels (6/7). I am not even going to add the younger lists. Of course you wouldn’t have a four year old cut the grass, but a lot of things on these lists are perfectly understandable even if it requires supervision. A four year old should be supervised regardless of the activity they are partaking in.
In case this hasn’t been noticed ” deep clean kitchen” has been listed twice for 10-11 year olds. I’m sure it’s because if you are like me it might need to be done twice in one day! Ha ha!
Jennifer Flanders says
Thank you, Anna. That had been brought to my attention. I corrected the printable, but haven’t switched out the photo that displays on my blog. I’ll do that now. Appreciate your help.
Joy Williams says
Just what do you mean by “deep clean” kitchen?
Jennifer Flanders says
Daily kitchen clean up includes loading and emptying dishwasher, wiping off table and countertops, rinsing out the sink and sweeping the floor. The weekly “deep clean” my kids do just entails a more thorough cleaning of our stovetop, scouring the sink, polishing countertops, wiping down the fronts of refrigerator, dishwasher, oven and microwave, and windexing the glass on the door that leads from kitchen to back porch. It doesn’t include cleaning the floor, as that chore is done by an older sibling who sweeps and mops the kitchen while he/she is vacuuming/mopping the rest of the house. It also does not include cleaning out the refrigerator, defrosting the freezer, cleaning the inside of the oven, or organizing pantry or drawers. I either do those jobs myself or hire an older child to do them.
Not sure if this has already been pointed out, but you have “deep clean kitchen” listed twice.
Jennifer Flanders says
Thanks for letting me know, Karina. I’ll change that right away.
This is so encouraging to me! I became a stay-at-home at the age of 40 after working in my career field for years and absolutely love it. I’ve found, I’m not a very good Barbie Doll/Thomas the Train Mom as my attention span rivals that of my 19 month old. For me (and the sweet kid), we’ve found that working together doing chores is one way we play together. We empty the dishwasher (each spoon handed to me with a thank you from me and a repeated thank you from the sweet kid) dust with swiffers (the dog being dusted as much as the furniture), making our beds (hers a pile of stuffed animals, mine a pile of pillows) and anything else that I can include her in. It is my thought that seeing it as something we do together bonds us together as mother and daughter and gives a realistic picture to her of what it is like to be part of a family.
As she gets older we will implement a chore chart of some kind and attach incentives to some of them but to other chores, there will be the expectation that they are her responsibility for two reasons. 1. We share in the responsibilities of our family and 2. Because, from my own personal experience, it would have been a lot easier to learn to do laundry from my Mom than my college boyfriend. 🙂
Chris Hansley says
Jennifer, this list is great. Parents need to be there to supervise some of these tasks. An eight or nine yo scrambling eggs? Maybe if they can reach the stove safely. I was on the short side at that age. After all, my Mother was only 5 foot tall. Again parents need to determine and take into consideration the physical abilities and maturity level of their children. My family always joked that I was my Father’s first daughter, but also his first son. I was out in the garage with my Dad “working on the car” when I was two and a half yo. At age four we moved into our house from an apartment. I helped spread the dirt for the lawn. My Dad would put dirt in my little wheelbarrow and in his (I still have his wheelbarrow) and I would deliver the dirt. Yes, it took extra time for my Dad to do this. But it was lessons learned for the future. We changed the oil on the car when I was eight or nine. My Dad had one main rule before we could get our driver licenses. We had to be able to change a flat tire. And that was a tough one for my sister who at age 16 was 5 foot and weighed 90 pounds. But at 64 no mechanic at a dealership is going to tell me I need a widget during an oil change. And I’m not going to tell him to call my husband either. I also shoveled snow at age 4 or 5 with my little snow shovel. It was time spent with my Dad. But as I got older, it was expected that when I got home from school that I at least shovel the last twenty feet of the driveway so my Dad could park the car when he got home from work. Then after dinner we both would go out and finish the 120 foot driveway. He’d work the big Sears snow blower and I’d tidy up the edges with the shovel. My Mom had me in the kitchen from about age two and a half also. She would have me “help” her carry things from the fridge to the table. As I got older I started doing more. My Grandpa had been a butcher during the Depression. My Mother was working in the store by age 6 and helping him with the books by age ten. He started teaching me to “respect” sharp knives at age three. He would go to cut/slice something when he was at our house and he would have me put my hand on the handle and he would put his hand over mine. He told then, that “if you respect the knife it will not cut you.” One chore I had on Sunday mornings after church at age six was dusting and vacuuming the living room while my folks made breakfast. If I did my living room chores, after breakfast I got to watch the Sunday morning Western serials that ran at 10 o’clock. You know, shows like the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and the rest. We have lived next door to a family now for 25 years. We have seen their children grow. In those 25 years I have never seen either of the two girls or their son, shovel snow, mow the lawn or any other chores. The “kids” are now 24, 22 and 21. I’ll get off my soapbox now. Keep up the great work.
I think by “scramble eggs” the author possibly meant the act of actually scrambling them by hard with a wisk. Not cooking them.
Jennifer Flanders says
Actually, Christine, I meant both. The kids sometimes have to fish pieces of the shell out of the bowl before whisking (I’ve shown them how to use the remaining half-shell to do this — that’s much easier than using a spoon), but they do love to cook their eggs, start-to-finish, all by themselves. One of my sons was a better omelette-flipper at eight than I am at forty-eight! With a flick of his wrist, he’d toss and catch them in one fluid motion, and they always cooked up perfectly every time. Yum!
I agree with this list. Too often we overprotect children in our society. While I do not have any of my own children, I know from many (9) nieces and nephews that most children can do these things at this age. When I was 10 my dad allowed me to mow our family yard, and by my 11th summer I had 9 houses in my rotation and was bringing home over $150 a week from neighborhood mowing (and I am a female). I was expected to use my earnings for CD’s, movies, school clothes and school books, or whatever else a 12 year old might want or need, and this taught me money management (and helped my parents out financially, which was very necessary). By 13 I was able to use the weed whacker and earned just a little bit more. I have very overprotective parents, but they taught me to use my resources available to earn funds, and to have a diligent work ethic. I also had household chores that included most things on this list from the time I was very young. I am thankful my parents raised me this way, and when I have children, I plan to employ the same tactics.
I just love this chore list! I wanted to thank you for creating it and also say I completely agree with you it’s working side by side with them that pays off. It’s time spent together and demonstrates how to contribute to the home the whole family enjoys. As for age appropriate, a child’s caregiver, parent or step parent knows it’s about stages too if your child really wants to help with something you can find some way to include them.
I agree that children should do chores, but wonder if we require our children to do all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and yard work by the time they’re 12 what exactly do they need us for? It seems like I should be paying my child more than minimum wage since I am giving them the job of house keeper and maid!
Jennifer Flanders says
My kids are a huge help, but there’s still plenty of work left around here for me to do. I promise I do not make a habit of sitting idle while they slave away. Working side-by-side with the children helps keep attitudes cheerful and makes labor more enjoyable for everybody involved.
Nanci, our job as parents is to teach them to not need us anymore…
Our job as a parents is help our children to be a good productive citizen and spouse and not a lazy teenagers sitting in front of the TV all day or playing games, talking on their cell phone or texting all night, sleep all day or at school, you see how many overweight kids our Country has, it is because their life style. Parents is your fault, I am not there yet because my kids still little but I am learning see it ppl spoil their kids in different wrong ways.
Well said Shane
even though never having seen this list, my parents followed it pretty closely with myself and my older brothers. With my younger/youngest siblings they did not. I can see a huge difference between us in how we do things now. (the youngest is 10 atm). Although the younger ones dust, they didn’t do it at as early an age as I did, and they are much more reluctant to help out and are easily distracted or slack off. I never had to do everything, but the basics yes. And honestly, yes, I think at age 12/13, each child should know how to cook 1 full meal. why? cooking is something kids need to learn, a meal at the time. I’m now 21 and married, and am able to cook many different meals. However, some ‘kids’ my age, were never required to help out around the house, cook meals etc, and still do not know how to cook anything (no, ramen noodles and heating up a can of soup don’t count)
I never give money to my children for do their chores, you need to take those love and logic classes, it helped me alot , my children were testing me, asked me ” mommy if a make my bed or watch the dishes you will pay me a dollar, I respond back, ” can you pay me a dollar any time I cook breakfast, lunch and dinner and when I take you to the school or your friends house?
Nanci, I feel your opinion is the reason why most kids and 20-some are helpless. If they do not learn all of these skills, basic life skills, are set up for failure. I feel most kids that do grow up in this manner feel that they are owed for something they should be doing any way. I grew up helping my mother cleaning the house, washing clothes, mowing the lawn, helping with dinner, taking care of pets, and going grocery shopping and so on. Guess what? I am a college grad that has a clean house, clean clothes, a mowed lawn and happy pets. I learned all of this at a very young age. Its ok to teach independence and empowerment. Now as a thirty some meeting guys that cant clean or wash their own clothes is hilarious and embarrassing at the same time.
Kids need us in so many many ways above and beyond the chores of everyday living. I would encourage you, Nanci, that you aren’t giving your kids the job as a house keeper and maid, you are giving them hands on job training for life!
Do not think it would be safe having a three yr old change a light bulb. Chores agree,but keep them safe and age appropriate.
Madam, please review list again…the light bulb changing is under 8-9 yo and is quite age appropriate, as I find everything else on this checklist is…I’m quite sure this was written with safety as a first guideline.
Jennifer Flanders says
Thanks, Kathleen, but I think Set is referring to something I wrote in a later comment. I did not ask my three-year-old to change a lightbulb; nevertheless, she begged her eight-year-old brother to let her help and did, in fact, replace one of the small candelabra bulbs in the fixture over my kitchen island with just a little coaching from him. As usual, they flipped the switch to shut off the electricity before changing out the bulbs. Her brother did a good job of teaching how to do the job, and she felt very accomplished upon successfully completing it.
ah, very good..thanks for checking that so quickly…I wouldn’t want to offend. I have to tell you, I am a Mom of a 28 yo, and this checklist is wonderfully appropriate. It is very concerning to see society so indulgent in their children, and lack of chores and discipline. Parents are required to give food, clothing, shelter, love and discipline, not cell phones, video games, tvs, constant entertainment..
Keep up the great work and sharing…while I don’t have underage children, this kind of Common Sense Parenting is so refreshing and worth sharing! : )
Where does it say for a 3yo to change a light bulb? That is in the 8-9 yo list.
So glad to see this list. Frustrates me when folks think kids can’t do chores and chide me for expecting too much from my kids. My children can and do the chores listed for their age group. Truthfully, it would be easier to do these things myself, but I don’t want to teach them they are above cleaning and contributing to the care of our family and home. Considering some Pony Express riders were 11 years old – this list is VERY reasonable. Thank you for posting this empowering list.
Jennifer Flanders says
Empowering. I love that description. Doesn’t that capture the essence of what “life-skills” education is all about?
Josue Sanchez says
By the age of 9 years old, I had already perform all of the chores listed on this sheet and some that weren’t listed such a tending to the animals, milking the cows, goats, feeding the chickens, pigs, goats, tending to the garden. Then again when you’re a country boy there is no such thing as an appropriate age to start doing chores, it’s expected as soon as you’re old enough to hold a rope, bucket and three leg stool.
Jennifer Flanders says
You are so right, Josue!
My country boys do all of those things. They are farm chores and go hand in hand with home chores. They are homeschooled and it is part of their education. I do these things with them and then I do some without them like hide tanning because of the chemicals and butchering, but my 11 year old loves to cook and is interested in the butchering. He hunts and fishes, but when it is slaughter time they are not involved in that yet. They have seen it done, but due to the outright nature of it do not participate yet. My 11 year old helps with hatching though and has done a mercy culling for a severely injured chick. He wanted to do it, but his reaction in doing so is what put the delay on the butchering. I was right there with him though and actually instructing him on the best way.
Alexander pence says
This is bull crap
Jennifer Flanders says
You may be right, Alexander, but as every good gardener knows, cow manure is just the thing for helping young plants grow big and strong — and having regular chores does the same thing for children.
lol maria I agree great response
I spent two months in Africa this past summer. The children at our school were aged from 3 to 12. It is not only common, but expected, that the children participate in the family. Most of the kids I worked with were 6 and 7. I witnessed them collecting water and carrying it, in large buckets on their heads, home for their family. They also collect eggs, do errands, etc. One even killed and prepared a chicken for the family pot with his older brother’s guidance. And, they play with their friends with a baby sibling strapped onto their back. All with NO complaint, it is just their normal. While I wouldn’t suggest many of these things in our culture, simply because of the ‘stranger danger’ that they don’t have to worry about in a small village, I do think that we do our children a disservice by not recognizing what they are capable of.
Each is different, as Jennifer points out. I had a four year old who kept her room immaculate and loved to vacuum with the full-size upright. Another would rinse all the dishes to prepare them for the dishwasher. My boys were shocked when they saw their cousin shove everything under her bed when told to clean up her room. They knew how to put their things away.
I learned to use the washing machine when I was 12, from a neighbor. I came home and asked my mom if I could do our laundry. She was surprised, but willing! She had never thought to ask us to do laundry. From that time on I did all the family laundry, including ironing my dad’s shirts. I loved it and it helped me get a job as a mother’s helper the next summer.
jamie smith says
This is a good idea. I don’t agree with all of this, but a lot of this is perfect. I don’t want my ten year old mowing the lawn, and I don’t want my six year old making meals, but that’s just my opinion.
Jennifer Flanders says
Thanks, Jamie. Obviously, there is plenty of room for adjustments with regard to personal preferences and the individual children involved.
Jamie, My 10 year old LOVES mowing the grass. As long as kids are taught properly and are supervised None of the above chores are too much. Also my six year old enjoys making lunch for her siblings when it is her turn. She usually makes sandwiches, fruit and pretzels. It gives her a great since of being a part of the family. She is the youngest of five and loves being a big kid.
Thank you for this chart. I am an Early Childhood/Elementary Special Education teacher. I am constantly encouraging parents to help teach their children responsibility. What happens at home carries over into the classroom. Of course I love to encourage them to work TOGETHER. I get a lot of parents asking what type of things their child be doing. I’m going to save this and give parents a copy in my beginning school year newsletter! And of course, I’ll always keep a copy handy, so I’ll be ready next time someone asks!
I read the list for the 4/5 to my 4 yr old. She was so happy that she already does some of this & is wanting to do it all! Woohoo! I used vinegar water on a paper towel for her to help clean the bathroom.
Jennifer Flanders says
Give your little four-year-old a hug from me and tell her I’m proud of the good job she’s doing. Using vinegar to clean is a great way to incorporate little ones without worrying about harmful chemicals and fumes. Keep up the good work, Mama!
Corissa O'Steen says
Love this! saw it on Facebook! My son is 20 months old & I catch him mimicking me cleaning all the time. Nice to have a guideline. I had lots of chores when I was little I can remember mowing the yard at 8 yrs. old.
I think the list is very age appropriate! Our kids have done chores since they were old enough to understand what they were. For those saying that the chores are too old for a child – maybe you should remember back to the chores you did as a child. We survived it, and became well adjusted, competent adults from it. Your children will, also.
You must really want your 10 yr old to deep clean that kitchen since you have it on the list twice!
Jennifer Flanders says
You’re right, Shannon. With all the people crowded daily around our table, our kitchen is usually in double need of a deep cleaning… and the ten-year-old who is in charge of that chore right now is highly distractible (just like his mama), so he usually needs a double reminder! Ha!
Thanks for pointing out the redundancy. That was actually an oversight. Although the picture in the post still reads that way, I fixed the printable after you brought it to my attention and have now uploaded a corrected file, so it won’t show up there if you print it out. I appreciate your help. Blessings!
Your letting a 4 year old use disinfectant?
Jennifer Flanders says
They just wipe down the doorknobs with Clorox Handi-Wipes. I’ve never had a four-year-old try to eat one of those things yet. Preschoolers are some of the most enthusiastic helpers you can find. They want so much to be “a big kid” and contribute in a meaningful way. Letting them help with regular chores and praising their progress builds their confidence and competence like nothing else I know. 🙂
My 3yr who will be 4 next month. Love to help. She will empty the dishwasher without being asked. She does not touch the sharp stuff she says that is mama’s job. She has 2 older sisters I wish that did this lol!
Agree wholeheartedly, the younger they are involved, the more confident and competent they become! Great list and some of my kids are capable of doing things at an even younger age. However, it is true, kids are so different, and some need a little more assistance until they can complete their “responsibility” we call it up to par. Great post!
Letting a 2-3 year old set the table sounded a little much to me. At that age dexterity isn’t that great and playing in broken glass might be more fun that putting the plates on the table if they can reach it.
Jennifer Flanders says
We use blue enamelware camp dishes for everyday, and our three-year-old is able to handle those without any problem. Even if she drops the whole stack, they’ll make a big racket, but no breakage. Plasticware is another great option for families with very young children.
my daughter started setting the table for our family when she was about 2 1/2, I would just give her one plate at a time, 3 forks etc as she would walk back and forth to the table. It would keep her busy and helpful while I was cooking dinner!
My son just turned 4 and he has been helping set the table for about a year now on occasion. To what he is capable of. If we are using paper plates, he sets them out for everyone. If we are using the heavy real plates, I set them out and he passes out the silverware, napkins, etc. He carries whatever i ask him to from the fridge to the table (condiments, salad bowl, etc). It’s all on what the child is capable of and you don’t know until you assess your own child.
As a preschool teacher, of 3-4 year olds, helping set the table at meals was a regular, and much coveted, class job. It not only teaches them community and responsibility, but is also good to teaching one-to-one correspondence (every person needs one plate, one cup, one fork, etc). As in the other replied, we used plastic, not glass.
My daughter is 18 months currently and loves to help around the house. She helps pick up her toys and put them in the bin. She also started putting her dishes in the sink when she was done all on her own. I sometimes find an occasional crayon in there as well but I’m not going to complain about that. She also likes to help put clothes into the laundry basket after it’s been sorted, help put it in the washer (front load) as well switching items from washer to dryer and pushing the buttons to turn them on. This is a great list I have saved for future use. I hope I can encourage her to continue to be this helpful as she grows up.
Jennifer Flanders says
That is so great, Sindi. We have photos of one of our sons carrying firewood at that age. We’d set aside the smaller pieces for him, and he’d carry one at a time while his older siblings were carrying big stacks of wood, but the smile on his proud little face was priceless.
Giving kids responsibilities is an excellent way to build self-confidence in them. A parents’ job becomes easier when they train their children to help. Yes, it takes time, but it is worth it in the long run. This list of chores are really life-skills. The sooner children learn them, the better. It’s a take on the old saying: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”
I think this caters to much to the women in the kitchen mindset. I agree kids need to do chores but this is defiantly catered towards boys do manual labor and women cook, clean, and sew.
Jennifer Flanders says
I honestly don’t know what you are talking about, Mimi. You are misreading that chart if you think it contains any division of labor in regards to sex. With the exception of the fact that the clip art shows a mother and daughter sewing instead of a father and son, I see no mention whatever of which sex should do what chore. Indeed, I’ve never even thought in those terms. We purposefully teach our kids to do all kinds of work as a way of instilling basic life skills. For example, here are a few of the chores our family has done in just the last three days, followed by which sex did them:
As you can see, our guys are able and willing to do a lot of chores traditionally considered “women’s work,” and vice versa. Stop trying to read something between the lines that simply isn’t there.
Yeah, I can’t complete all of age 12. Cooking is NOT something I’m good at. lolol
Ages 8 – 9…change light bulbs?? No, not so much.
Jennifer Flanders says
Actually, my six-year-old can (and does) change every lightbulb in the house, except for the canned lights in the ceiling and the fluorescent tubes in the garage. He especially loves climbing on top of our table to change the bulbs in the kitchen and dining room light fixtures. I seldom even have to ask — he runs to get a new bulb as soon as he notices an old one burned out. Of course, we are still using incandescent bulbs in all of those lamps and fixtures, and those aren’t as finicky (or as expensive) as halogen bulbs. I might reconsider this age recommendation otherwise.
My girls can do that and was able to do that at 5, but they also are in 4H and care for goats, rabbits and horses as well as dogs and cats. So with riding, rodeos and 4H they can do many things most kids their age can not.
george williams says
Jes this is the problem with the changing the lightbulb comment. what is wrong with an 8-9 year old changing the light bulb? it’s not dangerous if taught how to do it properly. But the real problem with your comment is that, WE have become so afraid of letting our little ones develop real self-reliance. And yes it has everything to do with your one simple comment. children become very responsible and reliable when they are taught to clean up after themselves, to do chores, and to take on risky tasks. this is how they become independent and fearless. they are more productive as well. try to shelter them from everything and they end up hanging themselves from being bullied. strong productive children are the future, not the scary lazy ones… js
I love this and will refer to it and recommend it when I post my chore chart and the command center on my blog. Thank you!!
Love this! For some reason in this area, I become brain dead and need help remembering the small ways the kids can help out! Thanks for posting this!