collection of plastic bottles for cleaning products

Chores 2.0

Not so long ago, I shared a photo of the boys doing their after dinner chores – washing dishes, cleaning the table and sweeping the floor. I got messages from people saying what a great idea it was, asking me the best age to start chores AND how to even get children to willingly do their chores. I already wrote a blog about chores for Under 4’s a few years ago (see below). So this blog is Chores 2.0, my updated guide for parents of children 8 and under. I’m going to give you a couple of tips that will support a mindset shift and a list of suggestions that you can employ in your household.

Don’t Call Them Chores

As I mentioned in my previous blog I do not call them chores, to their faces. As convoluted as it may seem, view them as ‘age-appropriate activities that promote independence’ because that’s why we’re making our child(ren) do them. Right? I want my children to learn skills that will allow them to leave as fully an independent adult life as possible. There is of course the added bonus that with each new skill learned, my workload as a parent is reduced. BUT it wouldn’t be beneficial to either them or me to give them activities that were inappropriate to their age and ability.


For example: Tying shoes is not a chore BUT it is a skill to be learned. W (8) is autistic with a neurodisability that affects coordination, balance and processing as well as SpLDs (dyspraxia and dyscalculia). He only learned to tie his shoes last week, not because he is lazy or I couldn’t be bothered to teach him but because in terms of ability, he wasn’t ready until last week to learn how to tie his laces. It would have been inappropiate for me to insist he learned to tie his shoes when he was 7. Doing so would result in reducing his confidence and thereby affecting his intrinsic motivation to learn and utilise the skill.

So when you are assigning ‘age-appropriate activities that promote independence’ to your child, make sure they are actually specific to your child and/or adapt them if necessary and don’t call them chores!

Seriously, Don’t Call Them Chores

Or jobs. Or anything that could lead them to expect some sort of reward in exchange for doing them. We tidy up after ourselves because we want to live in a clean and pleasant home environment. We take responsibility for any messes/mistakes that we make. We cook because our bodies need food to be healthy and grow. I personally believe that if I was to reward my children for doing things that contribute to a more pleasant home environment for everybody, they wouldn’t be intrinsically motivated to do the tasks required. And if you don’t know me by now, I am all about intrinsic motivation.

Age-Appropriate Activities That Promote Independence

small girl cleaning shelf in apartment
Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

This list is purely a suggestion of activities children 8 and under can do. You know what works for your family and your child(ren) better than I do, so you are better placed to judge what is appropiate.

The activities suggested are real activities that children should be able to do independently after a demonstration or with minimal guidance. This are tasks that I gave my neurodivergent children at these ages. This is not a list of ‘help mummy’ chores that you may see on other blogs.

Toddlers
(2 – 3 year old)
  • put dirty clothes away
  • choose clothes
  • tidy toys
  • prepare a fruit snack
  • wipe surfaces
  • set the table
Preschoolers
( 4 – 5 year olds)
  • all toddler chores
  • make breakfast
  • polish shoes
  • make the bed
  • put laundry away
  • wash dishes
  • sweep the floor
Young Children
(6 – 8 year olds)
  • all preschooler chores
  • make a hot snack
  • make a sandwich
  • make a cup of tea
  • water the garden
  • fold laundry
  • clean the table
  • unpack groceries

As they get older I look forward to adding responsibilities like washing bed sheets, doing their own laundry from start to finish, cooking a meal once a week (and budgeting for it) and more.

Looking for more ideas?

I recommend The Montessori Notebook’s list of age appropriate chores for children. We love the Montessori Method and try to incorporate into our daily life as much as possible.

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