Age-Appropriate Chores + Our System

by Erica Layne on January 9, 2014

Age-Appropriate Chores + Our System

January is a great time to reevaluate what chores your kids are doing—or to get started if you haven’t! A couple years ago, I had no idea where to start. So today I’m sharing the simple system that’s working at our house.

Daily Jobs

A few months before Trenton’s fourth birthday, I started talking up how awesome it was that he’d get a daily chore when he turned four. (Just like his big cousin Landen!) He took to his job proudly because of how important we made it sound. :)

At first his job was putting away the silverware. When he turned five, he switched to helping me unload the dishwasher and do the laundry. When our younger son turned three, he started wiping down the dining table every morning after breakfast.

They also put their shoes away whenever we come home, clear their plates after every meal, *try* to make their beds (when I remember to remind them), get dressed, and brush their teeth.

Money Chores

Every Monday, I put ten chore magnets on the fridge, and throughout the week, the boys can choose one whenever they want to earn a quarter. Once they’ve done the chore, we put the magnet on the side of the fridge and they can’t do it again until the next Monday, when I put all of the magnets back on the front.

chore system for kids

I emphasize that they can’t do money chores unless they are doing their daily jobs consistently—and in general, doing whatever I ask of them.

I also remind them that I need their chores to actually be helpful for me if I’m going to give them my own money for it. Granted, they’re young, so they do need help/supervision on some of the jobs, but if I end up doing more than they do, they don’t get paid. :)

Overall, I love the sense of autonomy our children have gained from earning money. Trenton has bought things he has regretted (like the $2 toy boat he bought on impulse), and he has opted not to buy something in order to save for something else. Plus, at a rate of a quarter per chore, it takes them a good while to earn any significant amount of money. Delayed gratification at its finest!

Now, in case you need some ideas—

Age-Appropriate Chores: Kids 5 & Under

  • Clean windows or mirrors. 
  • Dust a room. Or the whole apartment/house, if your child is closer to five. 
  • Clear the table.
  • Make beds.
  • Help unload the dishwasher.
  • Put away the silverware.
  • Wipe the table after a meal.
  • Water indoor or outdoor plants.
  • Fill a pet’s water or food bowls.
  • Put dirty laundry in the washer.
  • Switch laundry from the washer to the dryer.
  • Fold clean towels.
  • Match clean socks.
  • Clean their room. (Or for younger kids, one aspect of it, like putting away the blocks.)
  • Empty the bathroom trashcans.
  • Have 20 minutes of quiet time (or reading time) in the bedroom. (Yes, I pay my kids a quarter to give me 20 minutes of peace! Only once a week, though…)
  • Vacuum an area of the house. (Best suited for the 5-year-olds.)

A Giveaway! 

Last thing. :) Several months ago, when I ordered the chore magnets from TrainMeUp (an etsy shop), I had a feeling I’d like them, so I ordered an extra set of ten magnets for one of you!

Leave a comment, before Friday at midnight, if you’d like your own set, and I’ll get it in the mail to our winner! You’re welcome to grab additional entries in exchange for following me (facebookpinterest, email in the sidebar), sharing this post on social media, or even just sending this post to a friend with small children. Just let me know if you do. It’s really the perfect system for young kids and laid-back moms.

Update: Congrats to Jordann on winning the giveaway! Thanks to everyone who participated! 

Now the real question is—How are chores going at your house? 

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Brittney Crabtree January 9, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Love a giveaway, no matter how small. We write out a list of chores with their earning $ amount and post it on our fridge. It works well for our older child, but the magnets would be nice for my younger kids.
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Erica - Let Why Lead January 9, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Thanks, Brittney! Exactly. I’m sure we’ll have to update the payment method :) as our kids get older and can do jobs that would merit a larger amount of money. But for now, this is perfect.

Can’t wait to see who wins!

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Gina @ Holding the Distaff January 9, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Thanks for the tips! We’re currently assessing our little guys’ abilities to help around the house. Love the magnets! Count me in for the giveaway.
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Erica - Let Why Lead January 9, 2014 at 8:24 pm

For sure, Gina! Thanks for entering!

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Amber January 9, 2014 at 8:57 pm

I love this post Erica! I TOTALLY need to be more consistent about making my girls do chores and I feel like I am in a rut. It is a new years goal and I love the magnets! Do you remember where you got them?? If I don’t happen to be the lucky winner I will still purchase them :) This is just what I needed. Thank you!

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Erica - Let Why Lead January 9, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Hi Amber! The best thing about this little system is that it makes it easy to be more consistent. They have the same daily job for an entire year, so I don’t have to remind myself to double check who is doing what or remember to rotate the chore chart. (I KNOW I couldn’t handle that! :) And then they can do the money chores whenever they feel like it, but again, I don’t have to hassle them. Yay! I got the chore magnets from an Etsy shop called TrainMeUP: here. Not bad at all for 5.99 + shipping! :)

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Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake January 9, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Ohhh, chores. Wendy (2 next month) enjoys helping, but only when she wants to. :) She can set the table with help, sort of put away silverware, wipe off the coffee table, and occasionally “clean up” but none of these things are habitual yet.

She does love magnets though, so those might be even more of an incentive than money. ;)
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Chelsea O January 9, 2014 at 9:14 pm

I definitely need to have my kids do chores consistently. Some days and weeks I am so good at making them clean up and others…not so much. So thank you for the reminder and the list of chores to do! My kids love helping, I just need to make sure they actually do it!

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Angie W. January 9, 2014 at 9:19 pm

I really like the idea of money chores. I think I’ll try that. We have a chore chart for our kids, but I’m really bad about keeping up with it.

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Lisa January 9, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Okay, these are adorable! I’m horrible at getting the girls to do chores. I know I need to teach them, but it’s so much easier/faster to do it myself! I probably just need to implement SOMETHING to get it started.
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Amy Despain January 9, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Ha! I was just about to ask you where you got the adorable chore magnets because I NEED THEM!!! I really hope I win. If I tragically don’t, please tell us where you got them :). Love these ideas Erica. Josh LOVES the job of carrying the emptied recycling bins and rolling the big empty garbage can back inside the garage after the recycling and garbage trucks come. Josh loves helping and is old enough now that he legitimately helps! It’s amazing the things young children are capable of doing and the fulfillment it brings. I love your thoughts on the value of kids learning to manage money they earn. It resonates with me. I think we’ll start doing that.

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Erica - Let Why Lead January 9, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Hi Amy! The magnets are from an etsy shop called TrainMeUp. You can find them here. (They’re not expensive!) I can just picture Josh helping roll in recycling can. So cute! And yeah, it actually IS really nice when they can legitimately start contributing! I didn’t unload the silverware for a year! (Well, minus the days when I just did it myself really quick because it was faster than reminding him…)

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Stephanie January 9, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Those magnets are a cute idea. I have been thinking about chores a lot lately. My kids help out sometimes with things like unloading dishes, putting away toys, and wiping up messes, but I would like them to have regular chores too. I just haven’t really been sure when and where to start.

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Liz January 9, 2014 at 9:41 pm

We’ve been teaching them how to do chores but we’re not the best at follow through. We had a chart but still forgot about it!

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Ashley Calaway January 9, 2014 at 10:17 pm

We haven’t really established a chore system yet with Claire, but I try to make things fun for her, like helping me put laundry in the washer and dryer, taking her plate/bowl and fork/spoon to the sink, etc. And of course, we always sing the clean up song when we are picking up our toys! :) I love your system, though! Unfortunately, Claire just likes hauling around stray quarters and pennies around the house and hasn’t grasped the concept that they can buy her something, ha! Once she figures that out, I think that the paid chores would be so much fun to implement. And those magnets are so cute!

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Erica - Let Why Lead January 9, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Haha, so true! When they’re little, money isn’t a good incentive. :) My cousin commented above you that the magnets themselves may be motivation for her little twins. At that age, sometimes they’re just happy moving a magnet from one section of the fridge to the other! Love that.

(Great to hear from you, btw!)

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Desirae January 9, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Great post!! And I love these ideas. I am going to start some of these asap. It is definitely time for my 5 year old to start earning part of his keep around here :) And I really love the idea of helping him think more about the importance of what we spend our money on. Thanks!

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Lisa January 9, 2014 at 11:18 pm

I love the chore magnets.

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Kristin January 9, 2014 at 11:35 pm

I don’t know how you do it… It must be telepathy or something because i was JUST thinking about how to start doing “chores” with Malea. She has gotten the hang of SPENDING money and now needs to know how to earn it. “Mom, I need money.” is what I hear these days and she is only 3 1/2. What in the world am I in for here?! Count me in the running for these adorable magnets… could be the solution to our future 20 minutes of quiet time :) he he.

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Erica - Let Why Lead January 9, 2014 at 11:37 pm

You gotta do what you gotta do, right?? Some days, 20 minutes of peace is worth way more than a quarter to me. :)

I like the telepathy thing – let’s keep it up! And that is HILARIOUS about Malea saying she needs money!

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Katie @ Wonderfully Made January 10, 2014 at 1:20 am

Love these ideas, love the magnets, love the giveaway! Love love love :)

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Kendall January 10, 2014 at 2:49 am

This sounds great! Since henryturned three I’ve been contemplating how to make chores work for (not against!) me. Most of the time it seems like so much work! I like your delayed roll-out of the chores though. Cool program and I’ll probably try using it in the years to come!

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Angelica January 10, 2014 at 3:53 am

I think I need some of those magnets to motivate myself to do my chores…

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Andrea Jorgensen January 10, 2014 at 3:55 am

Ugh, chores….I swear we start a new “system” every couple months. I totally agree that kids need to learn early the value of money or, like me, they get to adulthood and spend any chance they get. (I am getting better, I suppose.) Anyway, these are great! Thanks for the ideas!!

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Katie January 10, 2014 at 4:39 am

What a great idea! I’ve been trying to figure out a way to be more consistent and this would be perfect!

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Lindsey January 10, 2014 at 4:57 am

This is perfect! Boston’s 4th birthday is only a week and a half away and you better believe I’m going to start talking with him tomorrow about chores. The magnets are such a cute idea too!

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shannon January 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm

These are truly awesome. We have a Melissa and Doug Responsibility Board, but these are the next step towards becoming a big kid. I’d love a set, but even I were were to win they’d be expensive to ship to Switzerland. I will keep them in mind for when we return home. Thanks for the good ideas.

S
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Joshua January 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm

I love the idea of requiring them to do their daily chores before they are eligible for the money-earning ones. Brilliant and creative parenting!

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Michelle January 10, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Would love to try these!

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Victoria S January 10, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Great list! My son is only 10 months so we have a little while to go but great ideas!

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TiffanyJ January 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm

These are GREAT ideas! My boys turn three next week, and they need to start earning their keep :)
We’ve tried rolling out some of these responsibilities, but I definitely need a more organized tactic. The cute little give away would certainly help that.

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Rachel T. January 11, 2014 at 1:30 am

(Holy cow look at all these comments!) I’m glad you get to pave the way for me trying out things like chores and chore charts so when I get there, I can just ask you! I would love these chore magnets and pretty sure I’d be able to do something like this in the not-too-distant future.

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Jenn January 11, 2014 at 3:24 am

Love the idea, Hope I win

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Jenn January 11, 2014 at 3:29 am

I also now follow you on pinterest and I shared you post on Facebook. I really want to win;)

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Becky K January 11, 2014 at 3:22 pm

This is brilliant, Erica. I know I’m too late for the giveaway but I had to tell you that I’m ordering a set of these from Etsy. Thank you for the tip!
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Brittany January 11, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Totally shared this with my friend who was asking for chore ideas for her kids this morning… but I think I missed the deadline! Anyway, thanks for the chore tips. I’ve been wanting to start something with my little ones and I love your approach.

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Kathryn January 25, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Wow awesome ideas Erica, will definitely be pinning this! :)
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Erica - Let Why Lead January 25, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Thanks so much, Kathryn! I appreciate it!

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