Chores kids can do, by age (and SHOULD do). Cinderelly, Cinderelly…

Chores kids can do - by age

Fact: Sometimes I get overwhelmed. When #HurricaneHilda reaps havoc on my house and life, it's not a happy feeling. It's like treading water where you lose steam and start to sink. I was going through one of those “sinking phases” one week, and looked up from a long day of work to a see a house that – literally – looked like it had been robbed. “I can't do it all!” “There aren't enough hours in the day!” “I'm a horrible housewife!” “It's just too much!” were all the woe-is-me's I wanted to shout to the world. For whatever reason instead of whining, I decided to wise up. I whipped up some chore charts and the next day I shifted the problem from being 100% mine, to placing some of the treading to my family.

Um…duh, Jordan.

Obvious, right? If your workload is too much to bear, lighten it! Sure, I hear you, it sounds like an easy fix. But…how many of us TRULY rely on our kids (and spouses) to help lighten our load? Our REAL load? Do we really give our kids chores that are truly load-lightening for us, or just the “I need them to do anything at all so I can justify giving them allowance”-type chores? Running behind my 1, 2, and 4 year old kids, picking up the trail they leave behind is exhausting. Now, I try to shift the load and truly rely on my kids to HELP, and not HINDER my progress in a day. Here's how we're doing it:

1. Make a list of chores

First, I did LOTS of research (probably WAY too much) for my “Teaching your Kids To Be Financially Fit” class at Frugality Boot Camp (which you can watch online, by the way!). I compiled the ultimate list of what chores your kids can/should be doing based on the research I did, categorized by age. So lucky for you, the list is done! Get the printable version HERE.

List of chores kids can (and should) do, by age

2. Put them to work!

What good is a list of chores if you don't actually USE it?? As I've been trying to find challenging tasks for my kids to do throughout the day, I have found that it actually IS lightening my load!! It takes some training and patience, and it's certainly not perfect. But hey, it's better than the job I was doing…which was NOTHING most days.

My tip? Find what they like to do and RUN WITH IT! If they hate it, it will be a battle.

Priya is our vacuum girl. In this picture she wasn't even 2 yet. She was in charge of vacuuming the kitchen with my favorite little vacuum. (Kitchens are easier because it was typically larger crumbs and food pieces that were easy for her to see and aim for).

Chores kids can and should do (by age)


Hutch used to be our little vacuum-er, but has passed the torch.

Chores kids can do - by age

Hutch was 3 in this picture. He LOVED using the squirt bottle. So I mixed vinegar and water in a cheap bottle, gave him an old rag, and told him to go at it. Sure, there was more spraying than there was wiping, but again, it's about the principle of it all and not the perfection of it all.


Chores kids can and should do (by age)


I also discovered the power of an old, unmatched sock! Spray some Pledge on that baby and BAM! A great dusting tool for small hands. Can you see the difference in where they have dusted and where they haven't? They really did a great job getting to places that I could reach!

Chores kids can and should do, by age

A simple sock suddenly turns into a cool dusting tool

Hutch loved that it allowed him to crawl on top of furniture. Again, he was barely over 3 yrs old in this pic.

Chores kids can and should do, by age

Happy to be “sock dusting”

Now that my kids are the ripe old ages of 2.5 and (newly turned) 4 (see his birthday extravaganza HERE), we have moved on to more complicated chores. I have Hutch use the big vacuum on the carpet now. It's hard for him to push and is pretty heavy, but he's a trooper and does his best.

Chores kids can and should do, by age

Moving to more difficult chores as they get bigger.

While Hutch vacuums Priya usually picks up and puts away the shoes, toys, and misc.

My FAVORITE benefit in all of this is that Hutch is now our exclusive laundry folder. That's right folks, he's 4 and folds our laundry. ALL OF IT. I dump it in a pile on the couch, and let him go at it. He has even recently learned to put the clothes away and will even hang them up in the proper closets (we have low-hanging bars in the kids' rooms).

Chores kids can and should do, by age

My (barely) 4 year old folds all our laundry!

I showed him once or twice, and I was AMAZED at how quickly he picked it up! I got over-confident and tried to teach Priya. Let's just say we'll keep her on no-fold duty for a while.

Chores kids can and should do, by age

Carefully folding…

He not only folds, but he sorts the clothes by family member, and sets the pile on the stairs (I don't want him falling, it's a pretty big stack by the time he's done) and sets our clothes in our room (since its on the main floor) or puts them away. #PoorChubbyOllie is always in on the action.

Chores kids can and should do, by age

…and sorting by child.

Sorry for the cellphone pics, BTW.

3. Track progress and offer incentives.

I have an fabulous allowance system I am going to introduce, but that is an entire post in and of itself. But I will preface with: in all the research I did, the parenting experts said to NOT pay allowance PER chore. Meaning, it's not “you get $0.50 for making your bed, and $1 for taking out the trash, …”.

They all said offering money per chore leads to unrealistic expectations and entitlement issues. Eventually your kids will assume that they should get paid for everything they do in this life (not the case) and that work is paid on a per-item basis (typically not the case). The fact of the matter is that you are part of the family, and you have responsibilities…just like you work for a company, and you have responsibilities. You work until the job is done. Once those general responsibilities are taken care of, then you get incentivized for doing your share. Again, I will do a post on that ASAP. Here's a teaser video in the meantime:


So as you can see, by relying on your kids and pushing them to do hard things, it really does lighten your load in the long run! Sure, it takes a little training and lots of patience in the beginning. But in the end, you're TEACHING them to fish rather than GIVING them all the fish, and it's freeing you up to focus on bigger and better things.

What chores do you have YOUR kids do? Leave a comment and share, I love learning from you all!




  1. AvatarJenny says

    Thank you so much for this. Great ideas as I have a 5 1/2 year old and 1 1/2 year old who would likely adore helping. Also, I love your philosophy and all your advice, thank you for sharing with us! You’re my favorite!

  2. AvatarAmy says

    My son makes his bed, puts away toys, cleans his bathroom, helps with dinner and setting table. He also loves to vacuum.

  3. AvatarDusti says

    Thank you so much for this post!!!! I’ve been trying for a couple months to have my 3&4 yr olds doing more. They want to but I’m just always at a loss and have no real schedule down so everything is usually done in a rush so I just do it. And they end up playing the iPad ALL day long. Which makes them super cranky, and me too! Lol! I cannot wait to see your chore chart/incentives post! My four year old really wants to earn money so he can buy a dirt bike. Haha!

  4. AvatarAlyssa says

    I watch a 2.5 year old. He is great with matching socks when they come out of the wash. He also likes to put clothes in the washer/dryer since they’re front loader. He also enjoys pushing the buttons that I tell him to push. If he spills his water cup I have him go find a towel to wipe it up. he isn’t convinced about cleaning up toys yet.

  5. AvatarEryka says

    Whenever my 2 year old sees me sweeping, he grabs the dustpan or another broom to help Mommy. He also loves putting Daddy’s dirty clothes in the hamper and singing the clean up song while he tidies up his room. He won’t rest until everything is in its place.

  6. AvatarJessica says

    Can’t wait too see how you “pay” your kids. We’ve got the chore part down and they love to help but don’t have anything set up for giving them money. My husband randomly gave my 5 year old 10 bucks for being good about doing her chores and she spent the majority of it on makeup at the dollar store, shared it with all of her friends, and we started a neighborhood flu epidemic. I need help teaching her how to be smart with her money. Hooray that soon you’ll be saving the day and giving us ideas on what to do!

        • AvatarFunCheapOrFree says

          Hm….um…haven’t posted it yet. Yikes! Don’t hate me! But I promise I will! I just got behind on stuff. Coming soon I promise!

          • AvatarLori says

            Thank you for replying i just wanted to make sure i wasn’t overlooking it. Thanks again.

  7. AvatarDina says

    I’m so impressed with Hutch folding laundry! I have to admit that I”m way too OCD to let anyone else fold laundry, but I do let them match socks and put clothes on hangers. My children are older than yours, they are 10 & 11. (Wow, I just realized they are 10 & 11!!!!) They both help out a lot around the house, albeit grudgingly at times. They do dishes (both hand wash and load & unload the dishwasher), load the washer and switch to dryer, take out the trash, make their beds, dust furniture in their rooms and all the baseboards in the house, take out the recycling, and help with meal prep, I.E. peeling potatoes, cucumbers, scrub vegetables, gather ingredients, etc.) and both can cook simple things from a box such as rice pilaf and both are capable of making their own breakfast (waffles, bacon, eggs, oatmeal) and of packing their lunch for school, although we do it for them.

    • AvatarFunCheapOrFree says

      Wow that sounds like a great list! I hear you, I will probably never let my kids do the actual laundry, I’m too OCD about setting stains. But it looks like you’ve got a great list of things going so that’s fabulous!

  8. AvatarErica says

    Recently found your site and really like it. I want to implement chores and allowance with my kids so this article was great. Did you ever post the allowance article? I was trying to find it. Thanks.

    • AvatarFunCheapOrFree says

      Oh my word, no I never did! Ok I’m adding it to my list of things to blog about asap. Thanks for the reminder!

  9. AvatarMelenie Guerrero says

    I recently found you on YouTube. I absolutely admire you, your family and your relationship. I know you aren’t perfect and I love that you are sure to remind us that YouTube is only a clip and that you’ve gone through a lot to get to where you are and that just like anyone else you have struggles because life is hard for everyone in various seasons. I need that reminder 🙂

    Do you use other insentives for your children other than allowance? I never received and allowance and my husband didn’t either. We are not sure we want to use allowance as an insentives so I need some other ideas.

    Thank you for everything you do. You are really helping people.

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