What Chores Should My Child Do?

Posted on June 2, 2016 by Jessie Mignone

Learn from an estate manager and full-time mother how to involve your children in household chores in such a way that makes them feel included and proud, and that helps keep your home clean.

Applying Estate Management Skills to Running My Home

After working as an estate manager to high-net-worth families in and around New York City and Westchester County, I have taken time off to raise my two children.  Applying the organizational skills I've developed in estate management has been very helpful in running my own household.  I have brought home with me an appreciation for a safe, organized and streamlined household.  Only now I am my own butler, housekeeper, nanny and assistant.  I wear every hat and glove.

No matter your role, we all want the same thing for our children; education, generosity, responsibility and love.  In donning my caretaker, tutor and housekeeper roles, I have devised a fun chart to help my daughter accomplish these daily chores.  Together we talk about the important tasks and values to add them to her chart.  It is much easier to get help with a task when your helper not only knows why you need help, but also understands.   

I created the chart in a way that it could always be customized and correlated to age appropriateness as well as her current interests.  When she accomplishes a task, she moves the task from the left to the right of the chart.  This until we have a completed a full row, and day full of heart, fun and contribution.

A Helpful Guide to Chores for Children

For Toddlers

  • Put away toys. To make this fun, you might do a head count of favorite dolls together, so that your child will think about chores as a joint effort.
  • Most laundry chores are good for this age group, as clothing can’t easily be broken. Your child can gather all dirty clothes from around the house and put them in the hamper, help sort laundry prior to washing, and help put away folded clothes. Matching socks can be a fun project!
  • Make the beds

Preschoolers

  • The vacuum is really a big toy, especially if you have attachments. It can be a transformer, a wagon, or the brush of an artist. Take time to train your child how to properly use the vacuum to prevent injury or causing damage.
  • Sort recycling
  • Dust surfaces and non-breakable items. Books are a great dusting project for this age group.
  • Feed pets and water plants
  • Fire safety.   Though not necessarily a chore, this is a good age to teach your child to identify smoke and flames and how to safely seek egress and help. Remember the basics: crawl, don’t walk, and have a designated meeting place outside of the house. Make sure your child knows to call 911 – but only for an emergency! - as well as not to play with matches, lighters, or the dials on your stove.  

Early Elementary

  • This is a great age group for learning the graces of entertaining. Setting the table can teach children both the value of handling delicate items with care, as well as the artistry of placement. Throw some cut flowers into the mix and see what arrangements your child creates.
  • Organize books, toys, and clothes
  • Clear kitchen counters and dining room table
  • Load the dishwasher
  • Put away dishes
  • Match socks
  • Sort recycling
  • Make basic snacks like grilled cheese sandwiches or simple salads that don’t involve a lot of knife skills
  • Sort and organize groceries
  • Stock household provisions in appropriate locations, like toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels, and basic toiletries
  • Fold towels, sheets, and blankets

Elementary

  • This is a great age for your child to learn to keep a basic ledger to account for allowance money and expenditures.
  • Clean dishes and operate dishwasher
  • Sort laundry and operate washer and dryer
  • Clean interior and exterior of microwave and refrigerator using a nontoxic universal cleaner
  • Wash counters, windows, and appliances
  • Disinfect doorknobs, cabinet and appliance hardware, and remote controls
  • Invest in a pressure washer and let your child go to town on sidewalks, porches, and driveways. Make sure he or she knows to clean responsibly and not to turn the water onto pets or other people, which could result in injury.  As well, pressure washers should not be used on or near a car or painted or varnished surfaces.
  • Squeegee shower wall and door after use
  • Basic bathroom cleaning
  • Clean mirrors and windows
  • Rake leaves and remove weeds
  • Simple cooking using basic knife skills, such as chopping vegetables for salads
  • Baking cookies, cupcakes, and bread

Pre- and Early Adolescent

  • Heavy duty vacuum cleaning of walls, upholstery, and floors
  • Heavy duty cleaning of kitchens and bathrooms
  • Lawn care, including mowing, hedge trimming, and basic repairs to fences and railings
  • Interior and exterior painting
  • Grocery shopping
  • Car washing
  • Steaming and ironing of clothes
  • Sorting and storage of seasonal wardrobe
  • Cook complete meals, such as pastas, grilled fish and meats, roasted vegetables, and mashed potatoes