One of my most well-liked creations is also one of my most-hated creations. Every time I post this “Chores By Age” graphic I get a lot of likes, and a surprising number of negative comments, especially about the Chores For 2-3 Year Olds.
Here are some quick examples of the comments I get:
2 or 3 year olds cleaning?! I get it if you make them clean their toys and make the bed but they are way to little to be doing the other things that are listed😭✋🏼
maybe just let your child enjoy their childhood before you force them to do a whole bunch of work🙃the chores for 10+ is reasonable but younger then that just let them go play w toys or smthn
Not age appropriate. If kids did this they would basically be slaves for the parents. Do u belive 2 year olds should dust. They probs break vases or important stuff.
Ok but what kind of parents make their 2 year old ‘cLeaN tHe pLaCe aFtEr meALs’ like LET THAT TODDLER BREATHE FOR GOD’S SAKE .
I think all these things should go up a few years
HOW ARE 2-3 YEARS OLD GOING TO PUT AWAY LAUNDRY AND PUT STUFF AWAY AFTER MEALS?!?!?!
You are mean to kids
In response to all of these comments, here are the most important things you should know about this Chores By Age chart, and introducing chores to kids.
Know Your Goal
The main thing to understand is that the goal is not to get your 2 year old to do your work for you. The purpose of chores is to make sure your child is independent and self-sufficient by the time they’re ready to move out of your house. This includes both knowing how to do these tasks, and that functional adults are responsible for doing these tasks.
There are a lot of things kids need to learn how to do, and many of these skills build on top of each other. You need to start young, and work your way up through more complicated tasks.
Even more importantly, kids need to learn how to take care of themselves so that they are not dependent on someone else to do it for them for the rest of their lives. This is importannot just for personal care (feeding and dressing themselves), but also for tasks that are needed in any shared living space – cleaning, maintenance, etc. Your kids’ future roommates, spouses, and even co-workers will thank you for making them understand that these are shared responsibilities. You may also be surprised by how much your kids enjoy feeling useful, and the pride they will take in being able to do things for themselves.
How To Start
Rather than being a chore list meant to be handed to a child and completed by them on a regular schedule, this list of Chores For 2-3 Year Olds is only intended to give you ideas of the kinds of things a child this young might be ready to try if it’s introduced at their level. If you do want to make a customized list of just the the ones that make sense for your child and that you’re ready to try with them, you can do that using The Trip Clip’s drag and drop checklist maker.
The main thing to remember is that introducing these chores to a two year old should be fun, not punishment. Kids love to emulate adults, and it will just feel like play to them. Introduce a chore from this list when you think your child is ready for the initial phases, and see how it goes. Your kids will not be anywhere close to mastery at first, and maybe even for years. Your goal is to teach them, and you begin that by meeting them where they are. Don’t think of these as ‘assigned chores’, but rather as ‘chores I can start teaching my kids at this age’.
If you want to have your child start making their bed, ask them to pull the blanket into place and straighten it as best they can. Ask them to put the pillow at the head of the bed. Congratulate them for any effort they make. Over time, show them how to pull one way or the other to make it straighter, and help them try it. When they have some idea of how to do that, teach them how to tuck a corner under the mattress. You may need to lift the mattress for them and let them push the blanket in place. Basically you will need to break the task down to whatever steps your child can actually handle. As they get older, they will be able to do more and more of it on their own, and you will have shown them how to do it right.
Similarly “feed the pets” is one that many people have commented is ridiculous, or even dangerous, for a 2-year-old. The trick is to meet your child where they are and help them learn to do it safely. Ask your 2-year-old to help you feed the dog by dumping the cup of food you’ve already measured out into the dog’s bowl. I guarantee they will think it’s the best job in the world. At some point they might be able to measure out the food themselves, though it may not be for a long time. They might be able to pour water from a cup you prepare for them into the water dish (I promise they will love this too) and they can absolutely help clean up the mess they make when they mostly miss the water dish!
As your kids get older, they should be able to perform the chores for younger kids without any help, and start to learn more complicated chores. A 4-5 year old can pour crackers into a bowl for themselves, and might be ready to pour a cup of milk for a snack. A 6-9 year old can help you fold towels, and work their way up to pants and shirts.
You shouldn’t expect your child to be able to take over the chore from you completely at each age. In fact, your work as a parent will probably double with each chore you aim to teach your kids! But that’s expected, it’s part of the job of being a parent to teach your kid how to grow into a capable adult. If you stick with it, and help them learn and eventually master each of these tasks, they really will be able to lighten your load a little eventually and take more responsibility for themselves and the household over time.
Raising Good Roommates and Spouses
For anyone who believes it is unfair to ask kids to do housework, and that kids should be allowed to just play, I recommend keeping your child’s future spouses and roommates in mind. Regardless of their gender, future spouses and roommates will love you for making sure your child knows that these jobs need doing and how to do them. I find that stay at home moms in particular feel like it is their job to do the cooking and cleaning and laundry, and that asking their kids to participate is shirking their own responsibilities. If this is you, I encourage you to remember that your role as a stay at home parent is ALSO to be a teacher to your kids, and showing them how to take care of themselves is part of your job too!
It’s also important that both boys and girls know how to do all of these chores. If your child lives alone at any point in their lives, they need to know how to feed themselves and keep a clean living space. Even more importantly, boys who can do all of these things will grow into men who understand that it is not by default a woman’s job to clean the house and make their meals for them. My mother-in-law stayed home at first after she had kids, but then returned to school to get her PhD when her kids started school, and eventually became a college professor. She was frustrated at being expected to continue cooking all the meals and doing all the cleaning and much of the child rearing while going to school herself. She didn’t have much luck getting her husband to pitch in more, but she channeled her frustration into making sure her sons mastered all of these skills. She was thinking about me, her future daughter-in-law. It worked wonders, and my husband participates equally in all of the child rearing, cooking, grocery shopping, and cleaning that needs doing.
Down the Road
As further incentive for asking your kids to learn to do these chores well and participate in the work of caring for themselves and the household, think ahead to what things an 18-year-old should know how to do when they are ready to head out on their own. I looked at a lot of sources and created the lists below of things most 18 year old will be expected to do on their own, whether they go to college or move into their own place. There’s a lot here that our kids need to learn in their first 18 years, and it doesn’t hurt to start early to give them plenty of time to master this huge array of skills!
And finally, don’t underestimate the value that comes at any age with being able to do a job well. A 2-year-old who helps feed the family pet can definitely understand that they are able to help care for another living creature, and they should feel proud about that. My kids don’t enjoy doing chores any more than the next kid does, but it’s clear to me that they are proud of the fact that at 14 and 17, they are both able to cook a healthy meal, do their own laundry competently, and even clean a bathroom if pressed (maybe not super well still, but they at least understand the basics of the job). My 17-year-old has even commented that he thinks some of his friends are going to be in trouble in college next year because their moms have always done all these things for them and they don’t know how. It’s the closest I’ve gotten (so far) to a thank you for making him learn these chores over the years, but I know he feels reassured that he’s ready for his next big steps in life.