Chores are a good way for young children to feel that they are an important part of the household. It gives them a sense of fulfillment to help out. If you are wondering what age appropriate chores for your children are, I want to show you what chores my children help out with at these ages.
It’s amazing how much of a help even a five year old can be for busy moms. When my baby boy was born recently, it was such a blessing to be able to depend on my almost six year old to help out, even with the simple things such as getting the two year old a drink of water or watering the plants.
How young can children start helping with chores?
I have found that by the time my children are two they want to help with something around the house. I keep a list of what ages my oldest child starts certain chores, and occasionally update my chore charts so my younger ones learn the same chores. That way hopefully I will be able to avoid having the younger children all spoiled and the older ones burnt out from too much work.
I was the oldest in my family, and while my parents did a pretty good job of spreading out the chores, I still tend to feel for the older children. It is hard for me to see when older siblings have to do everything, and the younger ones don’t get any of the chores.
A few years ago I read the tip to always ask the youngest child who can do the job to do it, instead of the oldest as the tendency is. I try to remind myself of that often, and use it as a mothering rule. So when I need something, I think if my two year old can get it for me first. If not I ask myself if the four year old can If neither of them can then I ask my six year old. This frees the older ones to do other jobs that I may need, and keeps them from feeling like slaves. It is also a good way to work on obedience and cheerfulness with the younger ones.
Starting your two year old with chores
At two I start giving my children chores. I sit them down and tell them they are big enough to help, and explain what I want them to do every day. They feel so important. For these first years I basically try to work alongside my children, but at least they are learning. My two year old’s chores are to help tidy up the house, help rinse the dishes (which at this point is mostly playing with the rinse water and dishes!), and carry away the little slop bucket and dump it.
That last chore is one they can do themselves, and most of the time they are very jealous of their chore. My two year old has thrown a fit if I ask one of her sisters to take out the slop. Most days she loves that responsibility.
Chores for three year old’s
Once my children turn three I add the chores of setting and clearing the table. Once a day the set the table for the meal, and at another meal clear the table. I help them with the bigger stuff, but we work towards them clearing everything and wiping the table without throwing crumbs to the floor. If you start young, eventually your work pays off and you have good help.
Chores for four year old’s
My four year old’s start washing dishes once a day. At first it might just be five dishes at a time, but eventually they can do more. Mine so far do all the plates, cups, and silverware, but if we were a large family it might be just the cups or something like that. I wash the rest in that turn. They also start cleaning up their laundry once it is folded. I teach them to neatly place it in their drawers at the right place. Sometimes they also start helping with simple animal chores like feeding the cat or gathering eggs.
Chores for five year old’s
Only one of my girls has gone through the five year old stage so far. We worked towards her being able to wash all the dishes herself. She also did other chores like watering plants (since she is the one collecting potted plants herself. I don’t care to keep potted plants!) Besides that she started cleaning up the dry dishes in the tray, folding laundry, basic floor sweeping, and bathing and dressing herself. She didn’t need to do all of those every day, but she was learning.
A time to work, and a time to play
I like simple chore charts. The girls like having a place to see what they have accomplished each day chore wise. I drew up this simple chart last year. We put it in a picture frame so we can check mark with a dry erase marker. At the end of the day we can erase the whole chart.
There is a space where I have written to do one extra chore. Basically that gives me a chance to ask them to do extra work. It also gives an incentive as they can check it when on their own they decide to help out and do something extra. The training is starting to pay off!
It’s not that my girls always cheerfully, quickly do their chores. We are still working on that. But I do see that they are learning and growing up. Sometimes if they are taking way too long with something like cleaning up all the toys, I set a timer for them. If they don’t finish on time then for a consequence they would have to do an extra chore. I think that I have never or rarely had to assign another chore, because they work amazingly fast once the timer is on!
Children need chores or responsibilities to feel the satisfaction of being needed and being an important part of the household. But young children also need much playing time to learn and grow. My girls get far more free time than chore time.
Future chores for our children
As my children get older I plan to update their chore charts once or twice a year, adding new chores for their ages. I have some ideas for what I hope to add each year, but I have to wait to see how my children do by that time.
While I do try that the younger ones do the same chores as the older ones did at that age, I keep in mind that each child is different. As individuals, I need to go at their pace. If any of them will need to wait a bit longer, I have that flexibility.
What are you doing for chores for your children? I encourage you to start somewhere. You can make your own simple chore charts, or even buy ready made chore charts. (You can find a link to some on my resources page under Homemaking With Children.) All the training pays off on the long run! Have fun with doing chores alongside your children, and see the work start paying off!
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