Giving your kids their own to-do lists not only encourages them to help more around the house, but it also teaches them lessons in responsibility and self-management. And – bonus! – you don’t have to conduct your annual spring clean alone! Discover how to incorporate chores into your family’s daily routine – and make them more fun – with our tips and ideas.
Note: All household cleaning products should always be used properly and stored safely, out of reach of children.
Create the Chore Chart
A family chore chart doesn’t have to be elaborate or fancy. Create a separate chart, organized in a grid, for each child, and label it with the assigned chores and the days of the week. You can use stickers or simple checkmarks to show chores that have been completed. For younger kids, consider using pictures instead of words (for example, a picture of a bed for “help make the bed”).
Choose Age-Appropriate Chores
Picking chores that are right for your child’s age will reduce stress on everyone and ensure that they’ll actually be able to contribute safely. Here are our recommendations for age-appropriate chores, with the caveat that you know your child and their capabilities better than anyone.
- Ages 2–4: Preschoolers are often more capable than we think – if they can find their favorite app on the tablet, they can help around the house! Little ones can match socks in the laundry pile, help put away their toys or help make their bed. As soon as your little one reaches the “I can do it myself” age, take advantage by pulling out the “big kid” card. Try saying, “Now that you’re 4, you’re strong and clever. I bet you could put away these washed plastic cups every day.”
- Ages 5–7: As they gain confidence, kids can start helping more around the house. The secret is to keep it fun. For instance, turn laundry sorting into a dance party, or encourage them to feed a pet while pretending to be a robot. Kids this age can also probably set the table and load the dishwasher with supervision (make sure you’re still the one putting in the Cascade Platinum ActionPac!), carry in lighter groceries and help with food preparation.
- Ages 8–13: Kids this age can probably branch out to more challenging chores, but supervision is still key. Teach them how to clean the bathroom, wash dishes, take trash to the curb and use a Swiffer Sweeper and Swiffer 360 Duster to pick up dirt and dust from floors and hard surfaces.
- Ages 14–18: As your kids become true teenagers, keep in mind that their school schedules and extracurricular activities will compete with chore time. This is a great opportunity to teach them about time management. Kids this age can sort their own laundry, bring their dirty clothes to the laundry room for washing and fold clean clothes. Then all you have to do is add Tide and Downy to the wash load and toss a Bounce dryer sheet into the dryer!
Note: If you use liquid laundry pacs, learn how to keep your home and loved ones safe with our safe use guide.
Get Chore Chart Smart
These tips will help keep the chore chart system running smoothly:
- Let them choose: If you think it might work better, ask your kids to choose what they’d like to do each week. Simply create a list of every chore that needs to be completed, and help them to pick their fair share
- Be specific: “Clean your bedroom” is a vague instruction, especially for younger children, so always be specific. For instance, you could list that they need to put their clothes in the closet and toys in the box
- Teach, don’t preach: For some things, like matching socks or sorting laundry, show your kid how to do the task, breaking it down step by step. Once they’ve mastered it, let them go solo
Don’t Forget the Reward
When your kids complete their chores, go heavy on the praise to help build positive momentum. Try to do something fun afterwards, like going for a bike ride or watching a movie. For younger children, stickers work like magic. Display their chore chart where everyone can see it and let them choose the sticker they’d like to attach to the chart.
Let Go of Perfection
Adopt a more relaxed approach with your kids’ chores. While kids will need supervision, resist the urge to jump in and doing everything for them, because it will undermine the whole point. If they need a nudge, try the brilliant when/then technique. For instance, say, “When you’ve washed your cup, you can go outside to play.” And remember that kids probably won’t do every chore perfectly – and that’s OK. Getting them to help out – and teaching them responsibility in the process – is more valuable overall than a perfectly clean home.
How do you get your kids to help out around the home? Share your ideas in the comments section below.