Chores my kids do and age-appropriate chore lists

April 18, 2012 in chores,lessons for moms

I haven’t cleaned a bathroom in over in a year. Well, not the whole thing anyway. Each girl cleans one bathroom. And since we just have a family bath and a powder room, this works. It took weeks of training, teaching, reteaching and post clean-up inspection but mostly the girls do a good job. The mirror seems to be the toughest though I can’t explain why. And teaching them not to use too much cleaner, that takes a while too, but I love that the girls clean. It makes me feel like we are all in this together.

This post is a short follow up to Belinda’s post on Why Kids Need Chores. I’ve avoided this post because even though it challenges me and encourages me to read how other families operate, I didn’t want to share our routines. You might judge me. You might think: her kids do too much, her kids do too little, or worse, even though your house is organized and spotless (the opposite of mine), maybe reading about what my kids do will make you feel guilty. Oh, there are dozens of reasons I could not post this.

But, I started this blog to encourage other moms. And practical, real-life examples are my favorite way to fill my mommy-idea bag. And honesty, they say honesty endears you to your readers. I hope they are right (sometimes when I start confessing my insecurities, like I just did, I get a double whammy because now I feel silly for being insecure about this). Let’s talk about chores before this gets any worse.

First, lists of age-appropriate chores always help me.  I never follow them exactly, but they encourage me that I am on the right track or that my kids can handle a chore I didn’t realize they were old enough to accomplish. And sometimes there are chores I never even thought of. Here are links to some of my favorite age-appropriate lists:

  • Focus on the Family’s list divides chores by age and then by personal and family chores. 
  • Web MD. The list of age appropraite chores is on the last page of this article, but I like the first part of the article and its explanations of how to get kids to do their chores. 
  • Home-school-your-boys. So technically this blog is about girls but I love the chore lists on here. Many homeschool families can make chores and learning to care for home a daily part of their activites. Therefore their chore lists are longer and more detailed. I love how this list divides chores by age (starting at 9 months!) and then into specifc areas like: in their room, the rest of the house, in the yard, away from home, and beginning etiquette.
There are dozens of other lists out there, but looking at too many will overwhelm you before you get started.  Remember that when you first give kids a new chore, you will have to help and instruct. But you are training them for the future and perfection is not the goal. They can learn a bit at a time and someday, maybe you won’t be cleaning the bathroom! 

Thanks to recent birthdays, my girls are now 8 and 10. We usually add new responibilities at the beginning of each school year. Sometimes during the crazy soccer season, I shorten the list because I want them to get enough rest. 

Make bed
Put away PJs
Get breakfast
Put away breakfast 
Brush teeth and hair
Pack backpack 
Feed pets

After school
Unpack backpack, hang it up and put all work and notes and planner on homework table
If there is a lunchbox, put next to kitchen sink
Get snack 
Clean up snack
Do homework

Before bed
Shower -every other day
Hang up towel
Put clothes away
Get out clothes for next day
Brush teeth

On Weekends
Clean all pet cages (3 of them)
Clean bathroom (older daughter cleans bigger bathroom)
Clean up room
Put away all laundry
1 or more surprise chore each weekend

The surprise chores vary according to the needs of the week and what I want to teach them. Sometimes it is yard work, sometimes mopping, sometimes harvesting from the garden, sometimes going through the marker bin and throwing out bad ones. One time they polished some silver. 

I wish I could say they had regular meal duties. Homework demands and crazy practice schedules make it tough. I feel good if we all sit down together and eat something healthy. I wish I could say they did all this every day without being reminded. We are still working on it. We grow each year. All of us. If you know a way to stop reminding them all the time, let me know!

In the future I will share our allowance philosophy and show you how we handled chores when before the girls could read.

So tell me, what do your kids do? ( I was honest, now it is your turn!)

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

The Røsviks April 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm

This was fantastic! I loved the post on chores several weeks ago, and have been thinking about it ever since because we’ve just not been able to get into a good chore routine with our kids besides the usual bed making and room tidying. (And I am ashamed to admit that, but I want it to change!) It’s so helpful to hear what others do, and those links you posted were great…


Dana April 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Perfect timing! I was just going to print off the chores lists I have gathered today to start making our list.
Right now we just clean up as a family. The toy room and living room is everyone’s job and then you are responsible for cleaning your own room and putting away your laundry.
Thats for your list and the other resources!


Kerri S April 18, 2012 at 7:22 pm

I agree, Laura!! Chores are an important part of raising our children. We can’t do everything for our children, this would be a disservice to them…what we can do is teach them, guide them and encourage them so they will be able to take care of themselves when they are grown and on their own.
Once my children were walking, I began teaching them to tidy up their toys, place dirty laundry in the hamper and as the grew I added age appropriate tasks. Now, my 5yo is responsible for her own room, putting away laundry, packing and unpacking her backpack, helping clean the playroom and picking out her clothes for school. She also makes her bed and strips the sheets once a week and helps me remake it with clean ones. She dusts furniture, sweeps and vacuums (although not perfect). Even my 3yo helps with many of these tasks. Thanks so much for sharing the links!
Blessings, friend!


Sassy April 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Thanks for posting. It is always encouraging to hear what others are doing! And it inspires me to revisit the idea anew. Here’s another topic (can of worms) somewhat related…the concept of “commission” or “allowance” and what chores are expected as part of the family and what chores can they earn money for if you follow the Dave Ramsey route.


Amanda Hill April 21, 2012 at 4:33 am

One of my main problems is allowing my five-year-old daughter to do her chores without my intervention. She makes her bed in a way I wouldn’t (but the covers go like THIS! The pillow needs to be centered like THAT!). Yet allowing them the freedom to make chores their own is one of motherhood’s hardest lessons. Don’t even get me started about Christmas sugar cookie decorating. . . 🙂

Amanda Hill


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