We know that you probably love the feeling of taking care of your household and making your home a clean, neat, and healthy space for your whole family. However, doing so by yourself can be hard work and really take a toll on you physically and mentally. What you need is a chore list that can get the whole family involved.
Far from being a drag on the time and energy of the rest, it can have many benefits to all members of your family, from young to old. Let’s see how.
Why should you involve the kids with chores?
Teaches important life skills
One day your kids will not have you around as a parent telling them what to do and how to do it. They will need to be able to take care of household chores themselves. That includes knowing what needs to be done and how to do it.
There is no better way to learn than through experience. By letting your kids help around the house doing chores, you will give them those very necessary day-to-day skills that they might take for granted now but will appreciate once they are on their own.
Empower and boost their self-esteem
Although they might hate the idea of doing chores beforehand (and more often than not, during too) research has repeatedly shown that far from demoralizing kids, the successful completion of chores actually boosts their confidence.
When kids complete productive tasks such as chores, it gives them a sense of accomplishment. It also makes them feel as if they are an important part of the family and removes any thoughts of them being a burden.
Teach them to take responsibility
You should really encourage your kids to take ownership of their chores. One great way to do this is by giving each of them an area they are “in charge of” or responsible for. Sure, variety is great and you should definitely let each one help out in different areas at some point, but giving them a personal stake in it is a great way to build on a sense of responsibility and pride in your work.
Help them develop planning skills and work ethic
Through doing chores, your kids will no doubt start to pick up on some tips and tricks on how to streamline their work and make themselves more productive. This will run over into their daily life and their mindset regarding anything they take on.
It teaches them to take ownership and to be proactive to really solve a problem quickly and effectively. They will learn that having good work ethic doesn’t only benefit your “boss” but yourself and everyone around you as well.
Make them better team players
All through our lives, we will need to work with and rely on others. Letting your kids participate in chores together teaches them this important skill. Try and structure your chores in a way that nudges kids to help each other finish on time.
For example, if there is an extra amount of dishes to do on a certain day, everyone can help once they finish their individual chores and the favor will be repaid when they face a similar situation.
Foster sense of respect and appreciation
As a parent, it’s a sad truth that our kids don’t always appreciate all that we do for them. It’s not their fault, it’s just something you learn as you grow up.
Once they start doing the chores themselves, they will realize just what you go through on a daily basis to provide them with the best quality of life. This will foster well-deserved respect for you within them and teach them to in general appreciate things people do for them.
Open up extra family time
In our hectic modern day lives, we often don’t get enough time to spend with family. However, a well-designed family chore schedule can have the added benefit of working in some extra family time.
The whole family will be working together as a team, which is a great way to become closer to one another and build on your family spirit.
Take a load off of yourself!
Lastly, running a household and being a parent is hard work! You definitely deserve some help around the house and some respite. Getting the kids involved with chores not only benefits them in the long run but also makes things easier on you. It’s a win-win situation.
Appropriate chores by age group
This categorization of chores is largely based on the Montessori cleaning list that was developed in 1911. You would be surprised how little household chores have changed in the last century. We have adjusted it slightly to account for some concerns around the list raised by other parents and added some new 21st century chores.
It goes without saying that whatever chores can be done by a younger age group can also be done by an elder one. Your kids will need less and less help and will complete tasks much quicker as they go making it possible to combine chores.
It might seem crazy for a two-year-old to start helping around the house but it’s actually the perfect time. Your kids are developing rapidly during this period and it’s the perfect time to start putting their energy and newfound powers to good use! They can start helping with simple tasks that don’t need much directing or problem-solving.
- Put away toys.
- Stack books on a shelf.
- Gather dirty clothes and put in the laundry hamper.
- Pick up and throw trash in the bin.
- Fold washcloths/towels/blankets.
- Help set the table (with direction at first).
- Wipe down and dust front of appliances (oven, for example) or ground level cabinets/furniture.
- Dust and wipe down baseboards and skirting.
- Fetch diapers and wipes.
Kids of this age already start to feel the urge to be independent, capable and needed. You can give them all of that by giving them some more responsibility around the house and giving them some more involved chores. What works great for kids of this age is to use an incentive like playtime for completing a task.
- Feed the pets and brush their hair.
- Wipe up spills on countertops, floors, and tables.
- Help make their bed.
- Straighten up their own room.
- Water houseplants.
- Sort clean silverware into their drawers/holders/racks.
- Dry and put away dishes (depends on the height of your dish cabinets).
- Help prepare snacks (under supervision)
- Use a handheld vacuum to vacuum furniture/inside cabinets.
- Clear kitchen table.
- Disinfect doorknobs.
Now is the time to build on the work ethic and skills that they learned during ages 4-5. Don’t expect everything they do to be perfect just yet but accept it as it is to boost their confidence and keep them motivated.
- All previous chores.
- Gather trash.
- Fold towels.
- Dust and mop floors.
- Empty the dishwasher.
- Match clean socks out of the wash or dryer.
- Move clothes from washer to dryer.
- Help with simple garden chores such as raking or weeding small plants.
- Help with the preparation of food.
- Make salad.
- Replace toilet paper rolls.
Kids can now take on much more complicated tasks especially as they have been trained in doing chores for a few years now. Give them some tasks that are more challenging but ultimately more rewarding. Do it with them a few times until they get the hang of it.
- Load dishwasher.
- Change light bulbs.
- Wash the laundry (in the laundry machine or by hand).
- Hang/fold clean clothes.
- Dust furniture.
- Spray off the patio or pavement.
- Sweep porches.
- Help put away groceries.
- Basic cooking such as scrambled eggs, salads, etc.
- Help with baking.
- Walk the dogs.
- Wipe off higher tables and surfaces.
Now your kids should be able to take on most tasks themselves. You can start to give them ownership of entire rooms (with some supervision of course). They can now attempt some chores that will challenge them and let them exercise some problem-solving.
- Clean bathrooms (toilet bowls, sinks, bathtubs, shower racks, etc.)
- Vacuum rugs.
- Clean countertops.
- Help you to deep clean the kitchen.
- Prepare simple meals with a recipe.
- Mow the lawn.
- Bring in the mail.
- Sweep out and dust the garage.
Ages 12 and up
By now your kids will be veterans in the household chore and cleaning game! They can take almost anything you throw at them with a smile. If your kids go the extra mile or do a particularly good job, start giving them little “prizes” or rewards or just regular symbols of gratitude.
- Mop floors.
- Change overhead lights.
- Wash/vacuum car.
- Trim hedges and help with more intense gardening.
- Paint walls, window sills, etc.
- Help you shop for groceries or do it themselves with the help of a list.
- Cook simple breakfast, dinners or lunches by themselves.
- Bake bread, cakes, etc,
- Help do simple home DIY jobs.
- Wash windows.
- Iron clothes.
- Watch over younger siblings and help them complete some chores.
Sample family chore lists
Where to begin? Setting up a workable chore list for different people of different age groups is no mean feat. Let’s look at some basics that will help you speed up the process and come up with a better chore list:
- Divide chores into “personal” and “family chores.” Personal chores are stuff like picking up your toys, cleaning your room or anything that affects you directly. Family chores benefit the whole family and are often in shared spaces.
- Take into account how often chores need to be done. Distinguish between daily, weekly, and monthly chores.
- Be conscious of how often certain chores need to be done. Distinguish between daily, weekly, and monthly chores.
- Use some spreadsheet software or pre-made editable chore charts to make it easier.
- You don’t have to change your current schedule. If you do washing on Mondays, stick to it.
For our chore list, we will create columns with the days of the week and rows with the chores. Days that require that chore to be done for the specific child will have an x next to that chore. The block can then be colored in if it was completed.
Here’s an example of a family with one (or more) 4-5-year olds and a teenager to show you how they could share chores while having their own designated ones.
Sample chore chart for ages 4-5
|Straighten up room||X||X|
|Help clean kitchen||X||X||X||X||X|
|Clear kitchen table||X||X||X||X|
|Sort silverware after dinner wash||X||X||X||X|
Sample chore chart for ages 12+
|Straighten up room||X||X|
|Help clean kitchen||X||X|
|Clear kitchen table||X||X||X|
|Sort silverware after dinner wash||X||X||X|
|Change light bulbs||x3|
|Babysit/Help with homework||x2|
|Meals to cook||x1|
As you can see, you can have kids alternate days on easy chores (such as clearing the dinner table), let them all help at once with larger ones (such as cleaning the kitchen), give them individual tasks that must be done every day, and give them extra incentivized tasks that could be rewarded with extra pocket money or favors.
Some tasks like washing the car and grooming the pets also only need to be done once a week. Don’t forget to think through the details. For example, it’s probably a good idea to clean a bedroom Sunday night before the week starts.
Do some research on the creative and fun chore lists other parents have come up with online through trial and error. You can find them on blogs or interest sharing sites, such as Pinterest.
Create your own chore list and have fun cleaning with your family!
So, there you have it! We hope that we have convinced you to take the time to come up with your own chore list that works for you and the unique group of people you call a family! Remember that you might be met with some resistance in the beginning but soon it will become routine for everyone involved. On top of that, it will benefit all your kids in the long run! To make sure everyone has what they need to complete their tasks, check out our cleaning basics supply list.