Assigning Chores for Young Kids

by jessicaturner on July 14, 2014

Disclosure: This is the first of two sponsored posts with Haier , who provided our family with a new dishwasher.

One thing that we haven’t been great at establishing  with our kids are chores. They do daily tasks like taking dirty dishes to the kitchen and picking up their toys (with prodding), but don’t have a list of regular chores to do.

With Elias turning six this past weekend and heading to Kindergarten we have been intentional about changing that trajectory.

We have given him tasks of emptying garbage pails from the bathrooms, making sure lunch boxes are put away each day, doing a good job of cleaning up and emptying the dishwasher.

I must admit, I am most excited about him starting to empty the dishwasher because that thing is the bane of my existence. It seems like the second we empty it, there are more dishes to put in. It is a never ending cycle.

Can anyone else relate?


On a good day, we empty the dishwasher first thing in the morning. We were thrilled when Haier contacted me about sending us a new dishwasher to review because our old dishwasher (that came with our house we bought in 2012) was dying. It sounded like it hated being run as much as I hated emptying it. (Review about it coming later this month, but safe to say, we love it!)

For now, Elias is pretty happy to empty the dishwasher. I mean, he’s not jumping up and down, but he is pretty pleased when he gets the racks empty and the dishes set on the counter.


I love seeing him carefully taking out the silverware and putting it in the drawer, and lifting the dishes out one by one. He’s such a joy.

In fact, yesterday he came running into the living room saying, “come see! come see!” so I could see the very empty Haier dishwasher.

It tickled me.

I’m curious, when did you (or do you plan) to start formal chores with your kids? How did you stay on top of the tasks? Did your kids embrace them? Basically, any tips or shared stories about your experiences would be so helpful! This is new territory for us!

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo-Lynne Shane {Musings of a Housewife} July 14, 2014 at 6:40 am

He’s adorable! And still little for chores. My 11 and 14-year olds do a lot of the dishwasher loading and unloading, but it is definitely a learning curve!


Ashley July 14, 2014 at 7:04 am

I love to have a chore list but I am horrible at making them follow up! Sooo a couple of weeks ago I wrote out 7 things, on the big chalkboard in the kitchen, that need to be done around the house ( me and hubby + five kiddos ) we all have one household job that we do everyday for one week. On Saturday we rotate the names… It has actually worked out pretty well.. We all pitch in and the house stays picked up.. Yay!

Reply July 14, 2014 at 8:54 am

Hello my girls are 29, 27 and 19. They are so very thankful that they had chores. By the time each of my girls were in high school they helped with everything from mowing the lawn to cleaning an entire bathroom.
My kids starting at pre school age had small tasks each day that they did but Saturday morning was “Chore Day”. They knew that they couldn’t do anything until all “their” chores were done. I would make a list Friday for each person to do on Saturday. S
As my kids got older and sometimes had plans for Saturday morning they would ask for the list on Friday and do what they needed to do on that day. There truly was no complaining because they knew that being part of a family and living in a meant that we all had to take care of it. Allowance was another thing. They got a set allowance based on their age . A 10 year old got half their age in an allowance each week ($5)
If they wanted extra money we would come up with “special jobs” they could do for a certain amount of money tied to the job.
Pick chores based on age and maturity. It made my kids feel good about themselves that they could accomplish certain tasks.
My 6 year old grandson sets our table for dinner, empties trash in bathrooms, puts dishes away, can help fold clothes, etc.
When my daughter’s were 16 they made one dinner each week for the family’s they had to shop for the food and find a recipe and make a meal. This was such a treat fir me and became something each of my daughter’ spooked forward too. Now they are grateful because they can cook for their own families.
I think if you are no nonsense about chores and not get into a power struggle over them…they are win win for everyone. When they were younger I would check to make sure that they did the chores but as they got older I didn’t have to that anymore. Don’t expect perfection…show them how to do a new chore and praise them when they have done them.

Reply July 14, 2014 at 8:56 am

Sorry for spelling errors. I should have edited before posting :-(


Andrea Fellman July 14, 2014 at 10:36 am

We have used the Marble Jar App and we have a white board that has listed jobs for them to do each week!


Linny Best July 14, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Thanks for the post Jessica!

I have a 5 year old boy and 3 year old girl and we have set “responsibilities” such as clearing the dinner table, rinsing your own dishes, picking up after yourself and putting shoes away (shoes end up ALL over the place in our new house!).

Beyond that, we have a chore chart with magnets that allows us to choose chores (together sometimes they get to pick their own from a few I’ve set aside, or sometimes we assign the chores). They know what they have to do and they get to move it to the “done” side of the chart when the task is done.

They are still a little young to leave them alone to accomplish their responsibilities (I look forward to that day!), so it is still more work for me to guide them through all that they have to do, but I look at the long run and the sense of responsibility and ownership they will have at home and see that the time is worth it.

I’m often stumped to find chores equal for their ages through, because my oldest can do so much more than my little one and I often don’t make it even and work him much harder than her! Poor kid :)

We also have lots of conversation about responsibility and being a part of the family and how all 4 of us have things to bring to the table to make our home a home and our family run smoothly. There have to be certain responsibilities to be able to relax and play sometimes!


Laurel July 14, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Our two girls began chores (besides cleaning up their own messes) in kindergarten. We have two categories: Kitchen and Trash Duty, and they switch off weekly. Kitchen includes dishwasher, setting/wiping table, etc.; Trash includes bringing barrels from the curb, collecting from small baskets, taking out trash/compost, etc. Additional chores like dusting, folding laundry, bathroom cleaning are assigned by age.

Our tradition is that on each child’s birthday, she is given a new privilege, (such as a later bedtime, allowing sleepovers, pierced ears, etc.), along with a new and more difficult chore. At twelve, our oldest now may go with friends to certain activities like movies or theme-parks unchaperoned. However, she also has to clean the bathrooms in addition to her other chores. We’ve found this has been a good way to teach them that with age comes both freedom and responsibility. By giving them a bit of both at the same time, they seem to find it a fair trade-off.


Julie July 14, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Love that idea !!


Sarah July 14, 2014 at 2:05 pm

I always find these conversations interesting because I’m very often the polar opposite. We have a two year old and also a four year, the four year old will be starting Kindergarten this year, and we barely make him pick up his own toys. My husband and I both have full time jobs and so the time we get with him in the morning and evening we spend playing, or focusing on things like brushing teeth, reading, etc. My husband and I weren’t made to do chores as children, but were taught responsibility.There will be no chore chart in our house, he can stay a kid as long as he needs to. He has his whole life to do chores. I’m also British and this whole idea of having kids do household tasks for you is completely foreign to me.


Erica July 14, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Hmmm.. what an interesting perspective. I enjoy hearing what others have to say about this. I wonder, (for Sarah) do you find yourself working around the house all the time on Saturdays/Sundays to make up for the time you are away? Have you hired some help? Or maybe you just let some things go? I just feel like I do chores all the time – and when I have my kids help me it frees up some time for me to play and read with them and do other fun things. Balancing work, family life and house-hold chores has not been easy for me.


Sarah July 15, 2014 at 10:21 am

The balancing act of working full time and being a family full time, it’s a tricky one. After years of struggling to do it all and be it all, I made a decision, not a natural one, to just let some things go. I am closer to God, and closer to my family, for letting some things go. I let the clutter pick up, I let the laundry remain unfolded. We can’t afford help, though I would love to help someone out with a part time job, and so I have to just let go of some of my own foibles. When I put the kids to bed I take a quick look at what there is to do, and make a decision. What am I saying yes to, what am I saying no to. If I can spend an hour with God and be refreshed for my family, or an hour folding laundry and still not be done, I’m saying yes to God and no to laundry. We have two boys under four, and two full time jobs so I know there is no way to control the chaos. But I don’t want my life choices and ability to manage my household to affect their childhood.

We have some things. He has to put Playmobil away before playing with his Lego and vice versa. No puppet show if his dress up stuff is still out. Things like that. And he does sometimes ask me if he can help with laundry, or watering the garden, and so we do those things together.

My house looks like a Bachelor pad most of the time, but it’s clean underneath the clutter!


Erica July 15, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Thanks for your reply and perspective. I often put my house and chores ahead of having fun with my kids and I struggle with that. It’s a constant battle for me. I think your perspective is awesome – an hour with God or an hour with laundry – not sure I can ever let my house/chores go as much as I should, but I hope I can make one small step at a time to relax about it.
God bless you for working full time and striving to give your boys a meaningful childhood!


Sarah Pinault July 17, 2014 at 12:53 pm

It took me YEARS to learn to live with some (a lot of) laundry accumulation. I strive for order, but my family’s natural tendency is entropy.

I pray that you find your own brand and style of balance. My pastor always says, if it’s still hard then God’s not done with you.


Kristin July 14, 2014 at 9:53 pm

This totally inspires me to get my 6 year old in on the unloading action.


Kayla Aimee July 15, 2014 at 7:34 am

Scarlette has a Morning Routine Chart and then she has three chores because she is three- watering the plants, unloading the dishes and folding/putting away the washcloths :)


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