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Exactly how you do chores in your family is up to you and your family. There is no one right or wrong way to go about it–it is not a moral activity. However you do it, just be sure you do it. “Family chores play a significant role in building loyalty, unity, and responsibility to your child” (On Becoming Preschoolwise page 182).

When can you start chores? I encourage you to let your child help you as soon as he is interested, which will likely be somewhere around 9-12 months old. Doesn’t that mean chores take a lot more time? Doesn’t that mean chores aren’t done as well as you would like them to be? Yes, and yes. It definitely does. But the practice must come sometime. If you wait until your child is 5, there will still be a learning curve. It will still take time to get good at it, and by that age, she won’t be so interested in helping anymore.


During Brayden’s first year, we lived in a studio apartment type of a place. Because of that, I cleaned during waketime, never naptime. He saw lots of cleaning, and he really wanted to help. I let him. I have had “help” vacuuming for four years. And you know what? Now I get real help. I give him the vacuum and go do something else. When I come back, the room is vacuumed beyond my expectations and 100% to my satisfaction.


I know you can do it better and faster, but do you want to be doing it better and faster for the next 18 years? Probably not.


Because Brayden is such a good hard worker, I haven’t ever implemented formal “chores.” He helps when I am working and he helps when I ask. I clearly remember last fall. We were out raking leaves. I was pregnant with McKenna and very sick. After a short time, I sat down to rest because I was tired. Brayden didn’t pause for a minute. He kept on raking. He only stopped when it was naptime, and right after nap, he went back out and helped my husband finish the job.

But I am now feeling the need for some formal chores on a daily basis. I want to teach him more order and routine to the chores we do each day. My hope is that it won’t turn into a “chore” instead of something he enjoys. When I was growing up, I always loved reading. I literally read at least 30 books a month–usually closer to 60. When I entered honors English in middle school, we suddenly had the requirement to read a lot. Reading was less fun for me then. I don’t want to do that to Brayden and his love of chores.


I have done some thinking about it. I am first trying out chore charts that I made on my computer. There is also a fun idea found in Preschoolwise using index cards. My husband and I decided we will try out the charts for two weeks and the cards for two weeks and see what works best for our family right now.

Here are samples of what we are doing. I want these to be things they do each day without me telling them to. I fully expect to have to help Kaitlyn along (she is 2.5), but I believe Brayden will do it without being asked. They will get to put a sticker on when each item is completed. Click on each image for a larger view.

You will notice on the monthly list of jobs, there is a “chore jar” category. On those days, the children will draw a chore that is written on a piece of paper out of a jar. They will then do the chore listed on it. Examples are help unload the dishwasher, rake, weed, shovel snow, sweep, dust base moldings, help make dinner, set the table, and help feed the dogs. They each have their own chore jar with jobs that are age appropriate.


DAILY CHORES OVER THE MONTH: a note about chores, you want to give your child a good experience. Kaitlyn is literally terrified of the vacuum and has been since birth. On Saturdays when her job is to help vacuum, her job will be picking things off the floor so Brayden can vacuum.



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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. rachelhockey
    November 2, 2009 / 7:17 PM

    hi valerie, i have a question unrelated to chores. our baby girl is almost 10 months old. she started army crawling nearly 4 months ago and she will get on her hands and knees but only make a couple of moves before getting back on her belly to get around. she is very quick. a couple of days ago she started pulling herself up to stand on the side of the couch and in her crib (fun! not really). some 'friends' were concerned that she isn't able to crawl on her hands and knees yet. now, i know that all babies advance at different ages. do you know at what point i should be concerned that she isn't doing a real crawl? thanks for your advice! 🙂 -rachel

  2. Tony and Ally Hawkins
    November 2, 2009 / 11:08 PM

    Love this post! But I can't get the chore charts to enlarge. I can't read what chores they are. Do you also have a list of some age-appropriate chores? Thanks!

  3. TimnAmy
    November 3, 2009 / 3:10 AM

    Just a personal experience for RachelHockey…my son was just over 10 months when he first started crawling on his hands and knees. He is a happy walking toddler now. Every baby is different and 10 months is definitely not late enough to be concerned about not crawling the "right" way.

  4. Kristy Shreve Powers
    November 3, 2009 / 2:30 PM

    We started chore cards (from Preschoolwise) when my older son was almost 3 years old. Up to that time, we had established cleaning up toys every time he was done playing and he sometimes had fun helping sweep, vacuum, or "wash" dishes. He thinks the chore cards are really fun and it's easy to see he gets a sense of accomplishment from completing the whole pile. I don't let him go anywhere or watch TV until chores are done. Every morning, he does: comb hair, brush teeth, wash off and dry placemat, make bed, and clean up any toys. I rotate these extra chores: dust, wash and dry coffee table, and wash base of toilet. (I don't enforce a "good" job on the chores yet–just completeness. And for something like dusting, I just let him have fun for a few minutes. The total time these chores take is about 12 minutes.) I am working on getting to the point where he can also do: set table, wash own dishes. I love the Preschoolwise way of doing this. Like it says in the book, I have a card that says to come tell Mommy when you think you're done with your chores, and a card that says, "See Mommy for a treat." I make sure to keep that card sporadic so he doesn't expect a treat for doing his daily chores. Just often enough to make it even more fun. Oh, and I wrote the chores underneath a picture of the chore. He doesn't read them.

  5. Janelle
    November 3, 2009 / 9:28 PM

    Another personal experience for RachelHockey: My son rolled to get where he wanted to go until he was 11 months old. He then spent only one month crawling and by his 1st birthday he was taking his first steps. Now at 18 months old he is running around like any "average" toddler. I wouldn't worry about it even if your child never crawls like a "normal" infant. She has found a method of transportation that works for her!

  6. rachelhockey
    November 5, 2009 / 2:42 PM

    thanks TimnAmy! i knew there wasn't anything to be worried about right now, some people were making me think i should be concerned though. but this morning she figured it out! after 4 months of crawling on her belly, she is up on her hands and knees and all over the place… thanks again for the reassurance!

  7. scs
    November 5, 2009 / 3:41 PM

    I can't get the images to enlarge either, could you post them on the Yahoo groups as an attachment please? Thanks!

  8. Plowmanators
    December 1, 2009 / 4:44 AM

    Rachelhockey,If it makes you feel any better, I never crawled, and neither did Bradyen. Kaitlyn did the army crawl for a long time before moving to the conventional crawl. Crawling is basically not a necessary physical milestone. If other physical milestones are on track, then there is no need to worry about crawling.

  9. Plowmanators
    December 1, 2009 / 5:30 AM

    Tony and Ally Hawkins,Sorry! I don't know what is wrong with those. I can't get them to enlarge, either. For night, I have clean room, go potty, get in PJs, brush teeth, help clean the family room, and say prayers. For the daily chart, I have help put laundry away, dust, clean bathroom, vacuum. Kaitlyn helps clean up so Brayden can vacuum. The help with all of these; they do not do them on their own.Twice a week we have a chore jar. In the jar, I have things like dust base moldings, wash windows, rake leaves, sweep…I basically just have them help with whatever I do around the house. I also have them help with cleaning up after meals and making beds. You can find a way for them to help with just about anything.

  10. Plowmanators
    December 1, 2009 / 3:17 PM

    Thanks for your experience Kristy!

  11. Plowmanators
    December 1, 2009 / 3:20 PM

    scs, they are ther now (I don't know if you saw). One is called Breyden_November and one is Kaitlyn

  12. Becca
    January 23, 2010 / 1:47 AM

    I noticed you mentioned your plan to try the chore chart for a couple weeks and then the chore cards. Did you end up trying both? Stick with the chart? How has it worked? Has it effected Brayden's love of chores? I'd love an update!

  13. Plowmanators
    February 5, 2010 / 12:05 AM

    Becca, things have gone so well with the charts that I have stuck with those. I might try the cards though…I am kind of tired of going through so many stickers 🙂 Brayden still loves to do chores. He even shows more excitement because he gets to put a sticker up 🙂

  14. Val
    April 30, 2010 / 11:00 AM

    I read somewhere to start EARLY and make chores fun. My little man (24 months) LOVES doing chores…especially in the kitchen.Check him out preparing asparagus by himself!

  15. Plowmanators
    May 14, 2010 / 10:25 PM

    Very cute Val! I was chuckling the whole way through 🙂

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