I have three little girls, two of which are very good at distributing toys, clothes, and books all over the house. After too many days of me chasing after them and cleaning up their messes, it was time to put them in charge of pulling some of the weight around the house. My sanity depended on it.
So, how do we distribute chores among children at different developmental stages? Here are a few tips, and printable helps, to encourage you in the process. My two-year-old daughter has an easy time following visual charts, like the one above from Dandee. She can see a bed and know that it means to make her bed (toddler bed), a toy means to pick up toys, etc. Right now is a good time to focus on small things, since she is small herself.
Chore ideas for kids 2-3 years old:
- Make Bed (don't expect perfection)
- Pick up toys (with help)
- Wipe small tables (um, have you seen kids with a wet rag? They are entertained for an hour!)
My five-year-old has passed the stage of simple responsibilities and has moved up a little in the world. She still can't read more than a few words, so visual lists are still good for her. At this age, she is still very proud to start and finish her chores.
Chore ideas for kids 4-6 years old:
- Stack/sort/put away plastic containers
- Wipe walls (add a spray bottle of water to the mix and you've got a happy kid!)
- Put away own clothes
Once your child is able to read, they might feel like picture chore charts are too immature for their taste. These colorful charts from Gennifer Bursett are a fun alternative:
Chore ideas for 7-9 years-old:
- Empty/Load entire dishwasher
- Empty garbage cans
- Simple yard work
Your kids, at some point, might get tired of seeing the same chores on the same chart day after day. You can mix it up by using Popsicle sticks, so their chores are more of a surprise. Not that it is a surprise they'll be excited about at this age... The sticks below are from Kirsten at Embellish, via What Dee Dee Wants.
Kids are getting more responsible now! Chore ideas for kids 10-12 years old:
- Sweep and mop floors
- Sort and run a load of laundry
- Clean windows
- Wipe out fridge
As kids get older, their list of things to do might change more frequently, and include more than things around the house. A more mature "to do" list, like this one from A Pair of Pears, might be helpful.
Chore ideas for those irritable teen years, wherein they might not appreciate cute, colorful chore charts anymore:
- Do all own laundry (including ironing)
- Wash cars properly, inside and out
- Small household repairs
Whatever the age, it is always good to have kids involved in something. My girls LOVE "doing dishes" together. Even if I end up with only 5 rinsed plates and a sopping wet kitchen rug, they still feel like they contributed, and they are learning along the way. It might take 10 times longer to get things done, but I feel such a lighter burden as a parent! If you take time to acknowledge what great help your kids are, they will know they are appreciated and be proud of their contribution to keeping things tidy.
(Cleaning by age tips from TipJunkie)