When is the right time to start having your kids help with household chores? To be honest, I don’t think there is a perfect time. It really is a family decision. Having said that, even young kiddos can help with housework that is beyond just picking up their toys. Of course, that in itself is a good place to start! But there are many other chore ideas for younger kids.
When giving your younger kids more responsibility with household chores, the key is to remember that there will be a learning curve. They aren’t going to do it perfectly. In fact, you might have to go back and “redo” the chore yourself. So why bother, you might ask?
In my opinion, having kids help with household chores is more about teaching them that they are an important, contributing part of the family unit. Teamwork makes the dream work, right? If you start giving them chores at a young age, they grow up with it just being a normal part of their childhood experience.
Below are several chore ideas for younger kids.
But before we dive into those ideas, first let’s think through some of the practical questions related to chores.
- Will completing a certain number of chores be required to earn an allowance?
- Will your kids be able to do extra chores to earn a little extra money?
- How will you figure out who does what chore?
- How often will they be expected to do that chore each week?
- How will you track if a chore has been done?
No matter what the chore situation will look like in your family, I suggest starting out small. I wouldn’t recommend going from zero chores to 3 chores a day. As you get into a routine, you can gradually add in more. And you can always add more responsibilities/harder chores as your kids get older.
Let’s dive into some ideas.
This is a great “starter” chore because really any sized kiddo can do it, and there is always plenty of dust sitting around. At least there is at my house! Have them dust tv stands, end tables, basically anything lower to the ground and within their reach.
I would not recommend having them dust the crystal vase you inherited from your grandmother. Maybe when they are teenagers. 😉 They also don’t need to use any furniture polish when dusting, just a good micro-fiber cloth or another cloth that easily picks up dust.
Helping load/unload the dishwasher
We started having our kids clean up their own plates after meals at a fairly young age. They ate off plastic plates and used plastic cups, so I wasn’t worried about them dropping anything. The next step was teaching them how to load them into the dishwasher instead of leaving them on the counter. Now, I have them help me unload the dishwasher.
There are still things I need to put away myself since they can’t reach, but there are plenty of things they can now put away themselves. Anything they can’t, they just set on the counter. Now they know where most things are located in the kitchen, which has also been helpful when I ask them to grab me something.
Helping with laundry
This can start out as simple as helping throw clothes into the washing machine or handing washed clothes to your kids and having them load them into drier. As kids get older, they can be responsible for bringing their dirty clothes to the laundry area, putting folded clothes away, and eventually folding them and putting them away themselves.
Little kiddos can help you match up socks. Hand towels can be easy an easy thing to start with when teaching kids how to fold. Again, focus on effort when they are first learning.
Weeding the garden or flowerbed
This a great chore idea for younger kids if you haven’t planted anything yet, as new plants can be hard to tell apart from weeds to little eyes. You can find cute little garden gloves made especially for child-sized hands. And they can also help you plant the garden or flowers when the time comes.
If you have a hardwood or vinyl floor, you already know it can collect dust/dirt pretty quickly. If you have a lightweight microfiber mop, your kids can do a quick sweep each evening. This is an easy chore for younger elementary age kids to tackle. (And if you don’t have one of these mops, I highly recommend them!)
Picking up/organizing shoes
Have your kids look around the house and bring all the shoes back to the main hall closet (or wherever you store shoes). Even really little kiddos can help match up shoes and put them in a row.
Helping set the table
The age on this one can depend on what kind of plates and cups you use. Obviously, you wouldn’t hand a 3-year-old a stack of glass plates to carry to your table. But they can certainly put down napkins at each setting or put a plastic cup at each spot. And as kids get older, they are able to help set plates and silverware.
This is also a great easy chore to start with. If you need to, you can create a chart where your kids can mark down morning/afternoon feedings so you can ensure that your pet is getting fed. 😉 You will probably have to remind them at first until they get into a routine.
This chore can also be shared between siblings. Maybe one can do mornings and one can do afternoons. Or they can alternate weeks.
Using the dust buster
This might be a chore your kids fight over—as in who gets to do it. Most kids love sucking things up with a dust buster, and obviously it is much easier to use than a large vacuum. Have your kids look along baseboards or underneath cupboards. Have a small spill that kids can tackle with a dust buster? Have your kids help you clean it up.
Will your kids complain about doing chores? Probably. But don’t let their complaints deter you. You truly are teaching them valuable lessons, and eventually it means less housework for you, too! A win-win!