Sharing the Load with Kids: A list of chores by age

clothes-line-615962_640Back when we were deciding where to send our boys to pre-school I spent a considerable amount of time researching the several in our area – a stark contrast to how I chose their paediatrician.  I chose the paediatrician based on geographical proximity.  I chose the pre-school based on similar ideology.  The paediatrician and I broke up years ago but I am still going steady with the pre-school.  My youngest is in his final year and I am heartbroken at the thought of moving on for so many reasons but what I am going to miss most is the support they provide the parents.

The school is based in Adlerian psychology and I have raved about here and Nathalie reviewed a book on the subject here.

At the start of the school year they distributed a list of ways that children can participate and contribute to the family and in doing so, they feel Connected, Capable and Confident (pillars of the Adlerian approach).

Moms have a tendency to play the martyr (guilty!) and the busyness of the holidays just adds to already overwhelming to-do lists.  Don’t forget to include the little people of your family!  They can make a meaningful contribution.  “Take time for training” is what the teachers at the school recommend and remember it might not be perfect, but it will be done, leaving you more time to spend together, having fun!

Home Responsibilities for a 2 and 3 year old

1)   Tidy up the toys on the floor and return to the right bins.

2)   Put books/magazines on tables, shelves or racks.

3)   Sweep the floor.

4)   Place napkins, silverware and plates on the table.

5)   Tidy up place setting after eating.  Take dishes to the counter.

6)   Tidy up the floor after eating a meal.

7)   Make a choice between two things for breakfast. (This is empowering and encourages your child to make simple decisions.)

8)   Undress and dress with a little bit of help.

9)   Help to put away groceries (boxed, canned items on lower shelves), put away the grocery bags.

Home Responsibilities for a 4 year old

1)   Set the table.

2)   Put the groceries away.

3)   Help with the grocery shopping and compiling a grocery list.

4)   Follow a schedule for feeding pets.

5)   Help with yard and garden work.

6)   Help make the beds and vacuum.

7)   Help to do the dishes or fill dishwasher.

8)   Spreading butter on toast, making simple sandwiches.

9)   Pouring cereal (perhaps put it in a small container so they can pour more easily) and the milk (from a smaller pitcher).

10)  Help prepare the family meal – wash veggies, tear lettuce, etc.

11)  Help bake simple desserts (it’s okay if there’s a spill).

12) Getting the mail.

13) Allow them to play without constant supervision.

14) Sort laundry (with help) and match the clean socks.

15)  Put away own clean clothes.  Put dirty clothes in hamper for washing.

Home Responsibilities for a 5 and 6 year old

1)   Help with meal planning and grocery shopping (i.e. write list, retrieve items from the shelves).

2)   Make own simple sandwiches and breakfast.

3)   Clean up after meals.

4)   Pour own beverages from the fridge.

5)   Take a more active role in cooking and adding to the recipes.

6)   Make own bed and clean own room.

7)   Dress independently.

8)   Clean the bathroom sink (with child-safe products).

9)   Spray and clean mirrors and windows (at least the bottom half!)

10)   Separate their own laundry on laundry day.

11)   Fold clothes and put them away.

12)   Answer the phone and dial when making calls to family/friends.

13)   Yard work.

14)   Paying for small purchases at the check out.

15)   Taking out the garbage and bringing back the bins.

16)   Cleaning up after pets.

Home Responsibilities for a 7 year old

1)   Answer the phone and write down messages.

2)   Run basic errands for parents (i.e. take something to the next door neighbour)

3)   Water the lawn and shovel the snow.

4)   Train pets.

5)   Carry in the grocery bags.

6)   Get ready for school and bed with little involvement from parent.

7)   Take notes to and from the school.

8)   Leave the bathroom in neat order (hang up towels, change toilet paper roll, etc.)

Home Responsibilities for 8-11 year old

1)   Set the table completely and properly.

2)   Mop the floor.

3)   Responsible for own bathing and showering.

4)   Straighten out closet and store seasonal clothing.

5)   Shop for and select own clothing with the help (and money) of parents.

6)   Cook for the family once a month.

7)   Change sheets on the bed.

8)   Operate the washing machine and dryer (measure out the detergent).

9)   Help neighbours with their chores.


16 thoughts on “Sharing the Load with Kids: A list of chores by age

    • It’s a nice reminder isn’t it, to do things for our neighbours? I notice in our neighbourhood very few people helping the elderly shovel their walks and that makes me feel sad. I mentioned it to someone and their response was that “people have to get to work” but I think that’s a cop out. People have always needed to *be* somewhere, but why can’t you spare an extra 15 minutes to help a neighbour and to make the sidewalks safer for everyone?

      Phew – that was a bit of a rant!

      Thanks for joining the conversation!

  1. I am really glad to see this list, as I have been feeling lately that the kids need to be doing more chores. I was also really glad, though, to see that they are both already doing most of the things listed for their ages here–just not as systematically as I think they need to be.

  2. My 4 yr does chores like a boss! I say that laughing not bragging. It’s a pertinent subject in our house right now because she wanted to buy gifts for her friends and little cousins. Well Mom and Dad are trying to figure out how to pull of Christmas for just her and her lil bro this year so I told her she had to earn the money. I wouldn’t pay her for “normal” chores like picking up after herself and her room but she could earn either a dime, a quarter or a dollar depending on the skill of the chore assigned, which I let her choose. The girl likes the cash! It’s gratifying that she is choosing to work hard for her money but she’s going to break the piggy bank. I say cheers to kids doing chores…how else would I find the time to write such a long, possibly obnoxious comment (= Great post.

  3. Thank you so much. A great, timely response. There are many jobs my boys 2,3&5 do willingly, but the everyday jobs such as packing away toys and getting dressed (a battle only for Mr 5) are always a battle. Have you any suggestions on stopping these battles without taking away ALL THEIR TOYS and sending them to school nude or without shoes on?

  4. Great list! Thank you!
    When our kids we really little one of their chores was to check the bathrooms to make sure they had plenty of tissues and toilet paper. When they were old enough to change the roll, we let them swap out the TP tube with a new roll

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