Stacked dirty dishes. A crumb covered floor. Sticky fingerprints in creative designs that look suspiciously like last night’s spaghetti sauce on the wall.
The list of chores for the U.S.S. Homefront begins spinning in your head.
Abandon ship! Abandon ship!
While you might feel like throwing your hands up, jumping overboard and tossing everything to the wind, you don’t have to swab the deck alone.
It’s time to call in the crew and get all those little hands on deck to pitch in!
Getting Onboard With Chores For Kids
What if you handed out chores like you handed out Goldfish crackers and your little ones kept coming back for more? What if you could teach your 18 month old son how to put his own toys away and help him gain self confidence while getting a clean floor in return?
What if your 6 year old daughter offered to vacuum because she wants to? What if the housework wasn’t just up to you?? (Gasp!) It sounds like smooth sailing!
Chores might be uncharted territory but they do not have to be complicated or overwhelming for you, your toddlers or your preschoolers.
Challenging little hands to start small tasks is actually a really smart idea! It’s a sneaky way to…
- Teach responsibility
- Encourage trying new things
- Build family bonding
- Boost their self- confidence
- Validate the feeling that the family needs them!
Believe it or not, your toddler, preschooler and school-aged children will not only enjoy their simple tasks but usually end up asking for more! *Commencing Happy Dance*
Easy Chores for Kids under 6
Tip #1: Evaluate the Homefront
The first thing you need to do is assess what housework you need to accomplish. Every family has different needs. Grab your (hopefully still hot) coffee, a pen and paper and ask yourself these questions to help you decide what chores need to be done:
- What tasks do you spend the most time completing?
- What areas of the house need constant attention?
- Do you have pets?
- What chores need to be done daily, weekly, monthly?
- Are there indoor and outdoor tasks?
Of course, the types of tasks you come up with will have a lot to do with the season of life you’re in!
Take the Queen of Your Castle Quiz and see if you’re a Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, or Snow White, and then use this free printable to use the prioritized tasks for your season of life. (They also include suggestions for your helping dwarves!)
Once you’ve made your list of chores that need to be taken care of around the house, you can start grouping together which ones can be completed by your little crew.
Easy Chores for Kids under 6
Tip #2: Survey the Crew
It might sound silly to think your 18-month-old could complete a chore, but surveying your crew will help you know what tasks they can actually handle. Here are some great things to think about:
- Do they come when you call them?
- Can they follow a verbal instruction?
- Are they able to mimic actions?
Most children between 18 months to 3 years old can do a lot of things (besides throw tantrums) that we as moms tend to skip over. It is not a requirement for a young toddler to talk before being able to complete chores. Their minds are little sponges, comprehension begins much earlier in their lives and usually far outweighs actual talking.
Older preschoolers and children who can communicate with you, can take on more responsibility and will enjoy it, even crave it! Because as the saying goes…“I’m a big kid now!”
Easy Chores for Kids under 6
Tip #3: Map the Course
Now that you have assessed the needs of your home and identified the readiness in your crew, you can now sort the chores and assign them. You might want to start by breaking your tasks down by age group or by how much adult guidance is needed. You can find a great list of chores for kids here.
For the young toddlers, one of the best kept secrets when starting chores is using the power of the Magic Eraser. You can give your little one this amazing, magic cleaning cloth and let them have the most fun washing just about anything!
When you are sorting your list of chores for kids be sure to include “Magic Eraser” tasks for your littlest ones. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you may have:
- Clean tables
- Clean cabinet doors
- Clean walls
And perhaps even a clean toddler! You get the idea. For your older crew, ages 4-6, remember that they may not need as much help as you think in their chores. Go ahead and challenge them to a few tasks that they could do on their own:
- Make their bed
- Pour their own cereal
- Pull weeds in the yard
- Put the silverware away from the dishwasher
- Set and clear the dinner table
- Give the dog new food
- Match socks or fold clean towels
They will love the new responsibility!
Easy Chores for Kids under 6
Tip #4: Gather the Crew
While the end goal is to have the mess picked up and dishes put away, assigning chores for kids requires time, patience and realistic expectations on your part to teach them how to help out.
I will fully admit that it is not easy to watch my 6-year-old sweep the kitchen floor when she misses huge crumbs, or watching my 2-year-old boys collect their large legos in the toy basket only to empty it 10 seconds later.
The best way to communicate and setup your expectations is to have a family meeting. Set a time and place to call the crew together to talk about your plan for chores. A few things to consider before your family meeting should be:
- Who is assigned to which tasks
- The goal of each completed chore (remember to aim for a realistic goal and not perfection, especially for the littlest crew members)
- Incentives for completed chores
Setting up a plan for chores with your family can be an exciting adventure! Communicate to your family that their help, no matter how small, is needed and wanted.
Communicating with Your Youngest Sailors
For the very young toddlers and preschoolers (18 months – 3 years old) the best way to communicate what they need to do for chores is with pictures, actions, and LOTS of repetition.
For example, you’ve decided that an appropriate chore for your 2 year old is to pick up her toys and put them away.
- Sit on the floor with her and the toy basket.
- While you are putting the toys in the basket you can tell her what she needs to do and invite her to help you.
- Remind her to stop playing with Rainbow Dash, because “Dash is tired and wants to sleep in the basket now.”
- Continue to slowly (so you don’t do it for her) put the toys in the basket.
- Point out that there’s a doll “hiding” under the chair that needs to go into her special basket for “naps”. Ask if there are any other “hiding toys” in the living room.
- Plan on going through this process for a few days, you doing less and less while she does more and more.
- Always finish each task with enthusiasm and a high five! Affirmation and praise on a job well done will build her confidence! It is one of your greatest tools in building future motivation to help out!
Mapping Out the Plan with Your Preschool Sailors
For your older crew that is 4-6 years old, organized chore charts can do wonders! Setting up a chore chart will:
- Keep track of completed chores
- Help them take ownership of their duties
- Create enthusiasm
- List rewards they can get excited about earning
Here are three chore charts that will get your home into ship-shape! Pick one and get started next week!
- Picture Perfect—Stars and pictures are perfect for beginner little hands that cannot read but can follow directions.
- Magnetic Duo—This is the perfect combination of pictures for littles and reading for older kids. *Bonus: It can also be used as a behavior chart!
- Write It Down—Let your big kids take charge of writing down their own chores and marking them off all by m’self.
Of course, a large part of helping your preschoolers learn how to work hard is to teach them the skill of perseverance. It’s one thing to start a chore…it’s another to actually FINISH it. 🙂
If that’s a skill you’re struggling to know how to teach, this article can help!
Set Sail for the Voyage
Navigating a sea of clutter doesn’t have to be a discouraging voyage.
Showing your toddlers, preschoolers and older children what it looks like to help participate in their family is an amazing feeling for everyone.
Teaching them skills, challenging them with new responsibility and having fun along the way will only bring your entire crew closer together as you sail into new adventures!
Now that you have a list of chores, a plan in place, and willing little helpers, it’s time to grab the helm of your U.S.S.Homefront and say SAYONARA! to messy playrooms, unkempt bedrooms and dirty fingerprints on the wall!
Have You Read These Yet?
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Lauren, along with her husband, loves the crazy life of keeping up with their 2 girls and twin boys. While she tries to get them to eat their vegetables, meals often end up including pasta or chicken nuggets. She believes that imperfect and messy homes are the product of memories being made (at least that’s what she tells herself whenever cleaning fails). She loves her yoga pants almost as much as her coffee…almost. But best of all she loves to encourage fellow moms on their journey through motherhood. Learn more about Lauren here.