Mom To Mom: Developing A Chore System For Kids

When it comes to dividing household tasks between family members, it can sometimes become tricky. It can cause drama, making it almost easier for one person to do most things to avoid controversy. In turn, that one person can build resentment towards family members, making this system unsuccessful as well. With ages ranging from toddlers to young adults in the house, how do you properly assign tasks to everyone, while keeping “fairness” in mind? There is no denying that creating a chore system and assigning household tasks to your children will prepare them for the world, but how much is “too much” on the list?

Growing up, the schedule was the same for my younger brother and me every Saturday. While my friends were able to sleep in and do what they liked, we were up with the sun, tackling the chore list that our mom wrote out for us the night before. I absolutely hated doing any of the outside chores because I hated bugs and getting dirty. So my brother and I decided that I would handle all of the inside chores while he handled things with my dad outside, like raking leaves and cleaning up flowerbeds.

We didn’t earn any allowance because my parents thought that us helping around the house once a week was our contribution to the family. We were allowed to play with our friends and do what we wanted once our chore list was done. My chore list consisted of things like cleaning the bathrooms, dusting, vacuuming, etc., and as I got older, my list got longer. On the daily, we were personally in charge of making our beds and keeping our rooms clean. When we finished eating, we were in charge of cleaning up the dishes. At the time, I resented my parents for making us do so much, but as soon as I moved out and needed to do everything on my own, I understood why. 

As we become adults and venture out into the world on our own, we need to be able to do all of these simple tasks. If we have someone doing everything for us, we won’t be capable of doing it on our own. I try to remind myself of that every day with my two daughters, who are ages ten and five. I tend to do more for them than I should, cleaning their rooms and picking up after their messes. I’m starting to get used to the grumpy faces when I ask them to clean up after themselves or do more than I have in the past. I know they’ll thank me later when they are having to do their first load of laundry on their own or needing to clean the kitchen. Because of their age difference, my expectations of them are not the same, but as they grow, so will their responsibilities. 

Why Create A Chore System?

Creating a chore system for your family eliminates drama and gives everyone clear expectations of what they are in charge of. You can have two separate charts, one focusing on the heavy weekly clean, and the other focusing on daily tasks. Or you can find a way to merge the two ideas together on one large chart. If charts aren’t your thing, you can do what my mom did, which was write out a list of things to do when cleaning day comes around and hand it to each person in the family on that day. Whatever route you choose, make sure the tasks you are assigning match the age capabilities of that person. I have listed below a few ideas for each age group based on what they are capable of doing and what can help them grow as people. 

Toddler/Young Child (Ages 4-6)

  • Make bed 

  • Pick up their toys 

  • Feed pets

  • Tidy room 

  • Water the plants 

  • Dry the dishes 

  • Dust the furniture 

  • Wipe down door knobs 

  • Help set the table 

  • Put away blankets 

  • Put dirty clothes in hamper 

  • Put books away in bookshelf 

Child (Ages 7-11)

  • Sweep floors 

  • Vacuum 

  • Empty the dishwasher 

  • Mop the floors 

  • Empty out all the trash cans 

  • Rake the leaves 

  • Match the socks together 

  • Minor cooking like peeling carrots and potatoes 

  • Walk the dogs 

  • Put groceries away 

  • Wipe down the bathroom

  • Sweep the outside areas 

  • Bring the mail inside 

  • Bring the trash cans in from the curb 

  • Weed the garden 

  • Organize/deep clean their room 

Adolescent(Ages 12+)

  • Clean the garage 

  • Clean glass items in the house 

  • Bake cookies 

  • Clean out the refrigerator 

  • Watch younger siblings 

  • Change overhead lights 

  • Iron sheets and clothes 

  • Fold clothes and put laundry away 

  • Mow the lawn 

  • Help with simple repairs 

  • Cook a complete meal 

  • Help grocery shop 

  • Paint 

  • More extensive outside work 

  • Change bedsheets in the house

  • Run errands (if they can drive) 

  • Pick up dog poop

  • Clean out animal cages 

It doesn’t matter how long their list is – as long as you are teaching them about personal responsibility, you are on the right track. Let’s be honest, it’s sometimes easier and more productive for us to do it on our own. But doing that does not prepare them for the real world, and that is truly what we’re here to do. I cannot tell you how many times I had to redo a chore that was on their list, simply to make sure it was done right. But if I hadn’t given them the opportunity to try, the lesson would have been lost.

Have patience, and be prepared to show them how to properly do each chore on their task the first time. Once they know how to do it the right way, it will be one less thing for you to have to worry about, leaving more time for you to enjoy life. You get more free time, and they become more capable human beings. Everybody wins. You’re doing great, Mama, keep it up!


Do you have a chore system set up in your household? Tell us in the comments!

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