Topic | life skills – chores

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
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  • alice

    I have a question about chores.  My two oldest children are a 7 year old boy, and 5 1/2 year old girl.  I would like to start training them in some household chores.  They already do things like picking up the toys in their rooms and clearing their plate from the table, but I’m ready to starting teaching them in other areas of cleaning.  I was hoping you all could share what you do, or give some suggestions.

    My 7 year old puts the clean dishes away from the dish drainer.  We have no dishwasher, so everything is washed by hand.  I was thinking of increasing it to learn to wash the dishes as well.  It will obviously require me standing at his side for a while.  But I’m not sure how to go about doing it.  Should I start him off with once a week he washes, or daily but only one meal a day?  Part of me thinks the breakfast or lunch dishes would be easiest, however, if we do dinner dishes I’ll have my husband home to help keep the other two children out of the way. 

    My other idea was helping with laundry.  I thought my girl could learn that.  That’s a bit trickier because I don’t have a set time to do laundry.  Plus she’d need a step stool to reach stuff.  I just know that I want to start training my children early in these things so they will be a help around the house, and that by the time they leave the home they will be well equipped as an adult.  I’m not looking for proficiency in either of these chores right now, but as they get older, they will be able to “take over” in that are at times.

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated!


    Hi Alice,

    Here’s what I have my 8 year old does: clear off and wipe the table, fold and put away his laundry and the kitchen linens, clean his room, make his bed (including putting on new sheets), cleaning his zone (a certain area in the house-for him it’s the stairs and baby toys but could be anywhere that needs 1-2 time daily straightening), drys dishes, vacuums the living room/hallway, cleans up the dog poop in the yard, dusts, straightens the games/puzzle area. Some of these are only once a week and some are daily.

    My 5 year old: empties the dishwasher, folds and puts away his clothes and the baby’s bibs, cleans his room, makes his bed (needs help with changing the fitted sheet), keeps the tubberware cabinet and plate cabinet straightened (his zone-the plates/cups are in a low cabinet), waters our plants, empties the house trash baskets into the kitchen garbage (the 9 year old takes it out to the big bin), checks mail (someone walks with him).

    They both help me wash walls, baseboards, vents/intakes, hang clothes on the lines in the summer, cleaning the toys off the lawn before it’s mowed by the oldest 2, clean out the van of toys/garbage.

    As far as how to teach them, I would pick one chore and have them watch you. Then they do it with you. Then they do it while you watch. Then they do it alone and you check afterward. Make it as simple as possible. Make sure to explain all the steps (ie does washing dishes include washing the sink down afterwards?).

    For when, I would choose the time of day when you would be least rushed so you could give him the time he needs to learn.


    I have started my 7 and 5 year olds doing a lot more over time. It is their routine every morning after breakfast.

    Basically here it is..

    1. They both dress themselves, brush teeith and hair ( if we are going out I will help them do their hair of course 🙂

    2. They enpty my dishwasher 7 yo does dishes, 5 yo does silverware sort.

    3. Make their beds

    4. Put away any dirty clothes to laundry room, my 7 yo can take clothes out of wash (on a stool) to dryer if there are any.

    After meals I have a posted sign to do the following…

    1 clear dishes

    2 pick up under table

    3 push chairs back in place

    4 ask Mom “Anything else?” ( I sometimes have them vacuum with my cordless Shark , and also wipe down chairs and table.)

    Little things like these are so great to train them in as it helps me have more time with other stuff. I recommend also the Vision Forum book Large Family Logisitcs. It has some great ideas for kids and chores.

    HTH! 🙂


    To add to her question, (sorry!) what age did you start these “lessons” or allowing them to do more around the house? My son soon turns 3 and I find myself wanting to “just get it done” so I do most things myself.



    I have learned to start when they are little, when it can be fun for them. They will develop the habit through that fun, and you will be blessed later for it after they are trained. I would simply take a few minutes every day to purposely “help” you, for example, with my 18 month old i say, “put the fork in the drawer” or “go put the napkins on the table”, “let’s put the toy in the basket”, all the while clapping for their good work. I have noticed that she actually is starting to put things back in their proper place without my prompting. 🙂

    Place a colorful chore chart with pics for your 3 yo, and have fun!


    Thanks for the responses.  I guess I need to just pick an area and start!  The more I think of it, lunch time is when I may start with kitchen training.  I’m the least rushed at that time.  Thanks…it helps to talk it through!

    Dana- I didn’t really start getting a routine and chores down with my kids till they were closer to 4 or 5.  I hear you on just wanting to get it done!  Now that my kids are old enough to actually do more than putting toys in a bin, I find it easier to give “lessons”.   Personally I wouldn’t worry about it too much yet…I’d just make sure I started before they were 10!


    I agree with “simple home”.  I have my youngest (2 1/2 boy) put things away and throw his diaper in the garbage, but I don’t have set “chores” for him yet.  Hoping next week will be the last diaper day….potty training starts on Monday! 🙂 


    Hi alice,

    You might find this link from Sonya’s other site, Intentional Parents, helpful.

    I also have a 7yo and a 5.5yo. They each make their beds every morning, pick up toys/books/clothes twice a day, put away laundry, and help fold what laundry they can daily.

    They also have certain chores that are done on specific days. For example, it is dd’s responsibility to clear dishes and wipe the table after every meal on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Then ds has that job on Mondays and Wednesdays. On alternate days, they have to set the table. We use placemats, cloth napkins, ceramic dishes, and real silverware at every meal, so it’s not like they’re just putting paper plates on the table. They have learned that the napkin goes on the left, the glass goes above the napkin, the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork, etc. 

    They are also responsible for emptying the bathroom trashcans into the main trashcan, using the Swiffer on their bedroom floors, especially under their beds, light dusting, wiping baseboards, and unloading the dishwasher.

    They each have a chore chart on the fridge with Everyday Chores and then chores listed under each day of the week. It is their responsibility to see that each check box is marked for Everyday and every specific day. I have been known to walk in after bedtime and see that Bedtime Cleanup was not completed and make that child get out of bed to do whatever was left unfinished. (They weren’t asleep, of course!)





    Thanks for the link.  I didn’t know she had that site. I will take a look at it! My kids do pretty much what everyone else has mentioned, I just want to go a step farther.  I believe they are capable of it. 

    Everyone here has encouraged me in this.  Thank you!


    I start fairly early too although they don’t have set chores to do daily until they are able to work somewhat independently. Until then, they are with me or an older sibling to work.

    So my almost 2 year old puts his diaper in the trash, picks up toys (we hand them to him one by one), throws things in the trash (we give them to him), helps the 5 year old unload the dishwasher (he hands stuff to the 5 year old to put away-we don’t put anything sharp in there and if dishes get broken on accident, so be it. that’s what thrift stores are for : ). He also brings school books back and forth from me and older siblings for grading and will retrieve asked for items.

    Most of my kids started these types of things at 18 months (9-12 months for toy cleanup). This time we started just a couple months ago (he was 21 months) due to developmental delays from health issues. So I really think it is a child by child decision. One friend told me though that you need to get these things done and spend time with your kids so why not do it at the same time?



    My 7 year old helps take the trash to the curb.  He occasionally takes the kitchen garbage outside, and puts it in the garbage can… (his dad has him do that, but I don’t, as it is pretty hard for him to do…)  He empties the bathroom garbage, which includes diapers (from 2 kids), often takes that garbage bag outside, and puts a new bag in the bathroom trashcan.  He empites the dishwasher, and when it was broken, he washed the dishes (not pots and pans)  He also feeds the cats.   He learned to wash the dishes starting with some plastic ones.

    He also makes some simple breakfasts sometimes.

    My 5 year old helps empty the dishwasher (but doesn’t have to), and sweeps the kitchen floor.  She sometimes washes the table too.

    My 2 year old “dusts” – and is the garbage girl…. if someone has something (including diapers) that need to go in the garbage, she does it.

    My 7mo looks cute.  That is her main job… lol

    All the kids (except the 7yo) do the general making of their bed, clearing off the table, fetching things needed, etc.


    Now all that said, they don’t always do things happily.  We have started using Accountable Kids… which sometimes helps, sometimes doesn’t.




    How old is your 7 year old?  lol..I mean when is his birthday?  My son just turned 7 in January.  It’s so nice to hear what other kids his age are doing.


    His birthday was October….   He actually started most of the chores listed above when he was 6 though.   Sometimes my dh starts him on a job that I’m not totally sure that he can do…  and he can.  My dh reminds me that he doesn’t have to go out into the woods to fetch the cow each night, chop wood, help plant potatoes or walk to school 2 miles (uphill both ways through the blizzard?) that kids did in the past.



    I have started assigning my kids a room of the house.  I choose the room based on his age.  My 3yo is in charge of his room only (and helping me as needed.)  My 7yo is in charge of the living room and entry way.  (cleaning up daily, organizing the board games, dusting, organizing coat closet, cleaning front door, etc.)  My 9 yo is in charge of the kitchen.  (loading and emptying the  dishwasher, sweeping, taking out trash, cleaning back door, etc.)  I felt like it was easiest to train them in one room.  This eliminates the “I’ve done more than him” discussion.  Plus, it helps me focus my training.  The longer they work in that room, the more tasks I add.  As they get older, I will switch rooms so they can learn the other rooms, also. 





    That’s the way I feel, too.  This morning I stood next to my 7yo and he washed the breakfast dishes…a few bowls and spoons.  I’m going to keep working next to him in there for a while, adding things as he’s able.  With my 5yo, she’ll start helping more with folding clothes and putting it in the rooms they belong. 

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