Family life is more complicated than ever right now, which can make chores a challenge. Kids might be likely to whine and complain about doing the dishes or folding laundry, but stay strong, mama—these tasks are not only teaching them life skills they will want to know one day, you can turn these jobs into a valuable lesson, like personal finance.
The key is to treat your kids’ chores as if they are a real job. You can still make it fun, but chores are supposed to teach responsibility, accountability, time management and honesty.
One way to make chores feel like a real job is to open your wallet on a weekly basis and pay an allowance. Handling their own allowance could be the only money management practice your children will ever receive, since most schools don’t teach the subject. Identify a dollar amount you think is fair for your child to earn per week and then create a list of chores that must be completed to earn that money.
You can also make it simple by using apps to help keep track of who is responsible for what chores and when the payments are due. Bonus: Kids can learn to save, invest and donate directly through the app as well.
Here are age-appropriate chores for kids of all ages:
Chores for 2-year-olds
1. Pick up toys
This helps teach kids at a young age to pick up after themselves and is an easy first chore to start with. Designate a basket in the area that your child plays in and model the act of picking up a toy and placing it in there for them to follow.
2. Wash produce
Have kids help wash produce as part of meal prep. This chore can get their feet wet in the kitchen while teaching them an important step in preparing their own meals or snacks.
3. Be an extra pair of hands
At this age, kids like to touch and hold things—have children help separate laundry into colors, darks and lights, for example, or let them help unravel the vacuum cleaner cord before you plug it in.
Chores for 3 + 4-year-olds
1. Wipe it down
Give kids a dust cloth and have them wipe down the areas that can be hard for you to reach including baseboards and lower shelves.
2. Grocery sorting
As you unpack grocery items at home, have kids identify the correct place each item goes. This will get them prepared to unpack the groceries themselves in a few years.
3. Make the bed + tidy their room
At this age, kids can start trying to make their own bed in the morning. If your child doesn’t sleep in a crib any longer, have them straighten the pillows and stuffed animals and pull the covers up. You can also ask them to make sure all of their toys are picked up put away.
Chores for 5 + 6-year-olds
1. Take care of pets
Have kids scoop their pet’s food in the morning before they eat breakfast and at night before dinner. Ask them to monitor the water bowl and fill it if they are able to or alert a parent when it needs to be refilled. These chores help teach responsibility as well as getting kids used to a schedule of doing chores at a specific time.
Have kids sort their clothing and identify what items fit and are appropriate for the weather, and which ones can either be donated or put in a storage bin for next season. This teaches kids organization skills and helps keep clothing from being strewn across the room.
3. Make to-do lists
Kids tend to be learning how to write at this age to prepare them for kindergarten. Have them help make the grocery or family to-do list to help the family stay organized and not miss anything.
Chores for 7-9-year-olds
1. Help with meal prep and clean up
Have kids set the table, assist in cooking dinner and clean up afterwards including dishes. Ask them to look up recipes for dinner and make a list of the ingredients needed.
2. Yard work
Make yard work a family affair one Saturday and give everyone a task to help teach teamwork skills. At this age have them attend to simple tasks like watering the planets, pulling weeds and wiping down play equipment and lawn furniture.
3. Room cleaning
Have your children pick up their toys, put their clothes away and wipe down any furniture.. Getting kids in the habit of doing all of these tasks in their room by themselves at a young age can save a lot of hassle later in their teen years.
Chores for 10-12-year-olds
1. Basic budgeting
Teach kids about budgeting by having them make a list of necessary items for the house, looking up the prices for each and determining a minimum amount of money needed to buy essentials.
2. Wash the car
Cars seem to be a magnet for leaves, dirt and nature’s other gifts. Instead of paying for a car wash or doing it all yourself have kids lend a hand with the process.
3. Set knobs and dials
Give kids more responsibility when it comes to doing the load of sweaters and jeans that need to be washed by having them set the dials to the correct setting and pressing the buttons. The same goes for the dishwasher and starting the oven.
Chores for teenagers
1. Mow the lawn and rake the leaves
Teens can mow the lawn and rake the leaves as well as offer their services to neighbors for a small price. This teaches them work ethic that will pay off later in life and helps them earn and save some extra cash.
2. Help pay bills
Since financial literacy is rarely taught in school, tech kids at home by making a list of all the bills that need to be paid and the dates they are due. Show them the process of how to pay them, whether it is online or writing a check, and how you budget for the expense.
3. Plan dinners
A few nights a week, turn over the family meal planning reins to your teenager. Have them create the menu, look up recipes, and create a grocery list as well as cook and serve the meal.