Appropriate Chores for Each Age (And Tips to Motivate Without Nagging!)

You have all these small people loitering around your house, creating mayhem, wreaking havoc. They are adorable; you dreamed them up long, long ago. And you love them, you really do. But all this mess? Is it even possible? You've cleaned up after them since Day One, and honestly, you are exhausted. THERE HAS GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY. (Doesn't there??)

There is indeed a better way, and it honestly isn't that difficult. With a little mama finesse and a few new tactics, you can be the owner of all these children AND a clean palace, all at the same time. Wouldn't that be something to dream about??

We've broken down some very basic, age-appropriate chores into separate age categories.

Give it a look, and start imagining the very cleanest house!

2-3 year-olds:

~pick up after themselves (toys, books, etc.)

~put away dirty clothes/pick them up off the floor

~help feed pets

~help make bed

~help clean up spills/messes

4-5 year olds:

~set and clear the table

~get the mail

~tidy up rooms

~take clothes to the laundry room

~match and fold own laundry/family towels (with supervision)

~get themselves dressed (w/minimal help)

~bring their things in from the car

6-8 year olds:

~make bed

~get themselves dressed on their own

~comb hair

~brush teeth


~fold and put away laundry

~empty trash cans


~load/unload the dishwasher

~clean bathroom sinks and countertops

9-11 year olds:

~food prep (washing, chopping, etc.)

~walk pets

~clean toilets

~wipe table

~put groceries away

~prepare simple meals

~learn how to use washer and dryer

12+ year olds:

~change bed sheets

~mow the lawn/yardwork

~do the dishes


~clean inside/outside of car

~wash windows


~change lightbubs

And how do we procure these chores to be done, you ask? Simple.

  1. Charts, Lists and Visuals, Oh My. You can make a simple chart for the fridge, you can order a fancy-schmance wooden list with magnets on Amazon, or you can make the minions write out their own jobs. Whatever method you choose, you will have more luck keeping your youngun's on track if they can SEE what needs to be done. Bonus points for check boxes or some place for the kids to mark what they've done. Everyone loves a sense of accomplishment!

  2. Money. Sometimes good ol' cold, hard cash will get a job done like nothing else. You could pay your kids per job ($1/clean bathroom, i.e.), or you could tie an allowance to their completing their chart lists or charts (p.s. ~ don't forget: a visual reminder will serve to motivate the beans to do the work!). Eventually, your children will work for actual pay, so maybe the best road for your family is to start them young on mini paychecks.

  1. Intrinsic Motivation/Encouragement. Saving the best (most difficult?) for last, possibly the best motivator is what motivates your kids from the inside. It's probably what will keep them going, when they've decided they don't need money or don't care about your stupid chore charts (it's coming; prepare thyself.). The bottom line is your children are a vital part of your family structure, which means their work is necessary, too. If they FEEL that's true, they will be more likely to comply when you point to the chart tacked on the fridge. (It doesn't hurt to throw in a pizza party or an outing to the movies every so often, either, to let your kids know how much you appreciate their pitching in!)

There you are, age-appropriate chores and a few ways to make them happen. Good luck!