I think the title of this post is straightforward enough: I am a big fan of teaching kids independence (in my classroom as much as at home) and I thought I’d share which tasks we’ve assigned to our girls (ages five and seven) in the hopes that perhaps I can make your life easier too! (Or, you can just judge me and wonder why, oh why, I want my children to grow up so fast, and why I don’t want to dote on them and single-handedly meet their every need. Whatever works for you!)


  • Set table
  • Assist with meal preparation as requested
  • Clear table
  • Put own dishes in dishwasher
  • Unpack school bag (take out agenda) and lunch bag (this is the point where I sign the agenda and read school notes) while they start lunches
  • Put agenda back in bag
  • Make lunch (evening) This is a BIG one. I slice buns (if that’s a requirement on a particular day), but they do everything else, following the rules: 1 dairy (yogurt, cheese) 1 fruit, 1 carb snack, 1 meal, plus fill up the water bottle.
  • Put lunch in school bag (morning). I still get it out of the fridge so that it can’t be missed. I’m not going to be the mom who works at the school and didn’t send her own children with lunches.
  • Unpack and put away groceries. (Recently, we returned home from a weekend away, and had picked up groceries en route. I went to the bedroom to unpack my suitcase, and by the time I came out 7 year old Frannie had unpacked and put away five bags of groceries….and everything was in the right place! The fact that the kids clear the table and make lunches really helps them to see where things belong, though we did have one incident where I called the grocery store to see if I had left the fresh orange juice (listed on my receipt) at the till. A couple of hours later, Frannie heard me and my husband talking and spoke up: “We brought it home! I put it in the cupboard with the apple juice!” I’m sure it was fine.
Next up: I want to follow my sister-in-law’s idea and get them each a little handbroom and dustpan so they can clean up their own crumbs! I haven’t taught them how to wield a full-sized broom yet.


  • Brush and floss (with disposable flossers) teeth and put away toothbrush/toothpaste (morning/evening)
  • Replace toilet paper roll when necessary
  • My 7 year old is starting to take showers on her own, but sometimes still asks me to help. It will be a beautiful day when I can say “Go take your showers!” (Yes, they grow so fast and one day I will miss the fact that they wanted me to shower them, I know, I know.)


  • Get dressed (asking for assistance with tricky buttons, etc. Asking means coming directly to the adult and making the request, not sobbing “I NEED HELLLLLLLLLP!” from the bedroom.)
  • Make beds. They have been taught to do this properly and that they must do their best. I accept most day’s work as “their best”. This was hard for me at first.
  • Put dirty laundry in laundry basket
  • Put laundry away (I fold it in piles, they put items where they go). Frannie does slightly more than Maggie, as she now mixes and matches her own clothes. I still match up outfits for the five year old, and each day she chooses the one she wants from the hanging closet organizer. Because of hand-me-downs (from various people) she has WAY more clothing than her sister, and I’m not ready to relinquish total control because I want to make sure that outfits get rotated, holiday pieces are worn in season, etc. By summertime I plan to hand over the reins.
  • Keep room “tidy”…the definition of which continues to be negotiated.Again, this is hard for me.


  • Bring in mail/newspaper and recycling boxes (They only do this in nice weather. I don’t want them slipping down our driveway in subzero temps.)
  • Put away all pool toys after swimming, and hang up swimsuits and towels to dry. Don’t know how this one occurred to me in this weather…


  • Do homework (7 year old)
  • Put on/remove outerwear, hanging up/using racks as appropriate
  • Clean up one activity before starting another

It’s important for me to mention that my daughters are not always gleeful when it comes to these responsibilities, and they do require reminders. Some days more than others!

I also want to make it clear that I don’t have my children slaving away so I can get my Twitter fix (not usually, anyway) but if half an hour at night can be saved, that gives me lots more time for reading stories and helping with homework – without making it feel like those are chores as well. Plus how do they lose when they are learning to be responsible and self-sufficient young women from this age?

So…what am I missing? Is there anything else that kids this age should be doing themselves? I’d be glad to add it to my (their) list!

4 comments on “Make Life Easier: Chores My Daughters Do – And Your Kids Can Too!”

  1. I had to laugh- its a real banger of a day if I make my bed, let alone have my kids do it!
    It has just recently occurred to us that our children can help out too. We have enlisted their help in doing the dishes, laundry (they can start loads- I don't sort ever so they can't go wrong; Daddy sorts clean laundry into baskets and they put away. Folding is optional at our place), cleaning the washroom (I give a mini lesson about chemicals, dangers of mixing chemicals, wearning gloves, and provide direct supervision while they do the task – hey, they're still doing it; I also let them scrub away with baking soda sometimes).
    One of my sons loves to help out: he volunteers to do dishes, laundry, wash the floor, vaccuum, clean the bathroom, make his bed…but his brother, meh not so much. In fact he avoids responsibility and will whine and complain until the job is done. And since I am such a loving mother, this behaviour makes me want to shower him with more jobs…but I don't. I try to break tasks up so he doesn't get overwhelmed (just empty the top rack of the dishwasher, now do the bottom) that helps him be successful. Sometimes having the children do chores makes more work for me in the end, but I have visions of teenage boys making the bathroom inaccessible and they need to know how to wipe up UNDER the lip of the faucet, down the front of the cabinet and under the back of the toilet!
    Oh, and they all have to take the compost out!! I think kids learning how to work hard is a really valuable lesson that they can use in any areas of life: academics, sports, friendships, employment…Great topic!

  2. Great list of chores and yes my 2 girls do most of them as well! The one thing that seems to drive me crazy when I do the laundry is trying to fold all of their clothes when they are inside out! So before I put a load of their laundry in the washing machine, they have to make sure each piece is the right side out! They really dislike this task but it saves me a ton of time later! I remind them they can do it before they put each dirty piece in the laundry hamper (which takes only seconds) or they can do it all at one time (which takes a lot of time). Funny enough they tend to do it all at once and grumble about it every time!
    The question I am struggling with is should I start giving my girls an allowance for some of these responsibilities? I currently do not because I believe they should learn the value of being responsible but I am not opposed to the idea either! What are your thoughts on allowance Kate? When/If should an allowance start and for what chores should it account for?
    Looking for some advice!
    Krista S.

  3. Great question about allowance, Krista! Right now the girls get $2 a week (big bucks, I know!) to divide between their save, spend and share sections in their Moonjar. This money is not linked to any chores or responsibilities, because I agree that those are the sorts of things we all do as part of life and don't get paid for. However, I will give them extra little optional odd jobs that they can choose to do or not do for a bit of extra coin, e.g. in the summer one day I gave Frannie a toonie for dead-heading the flower pots. She didn't learn much of a lesson about capitalism, as she enjoyed it and started volunteering to do it without asking for money!

    My opinion is that allowance helps with money-management skills, and gives them the chance to make purchases and donations on their own.

    I try to use lots of praise as reinforcement for the chores and responsibilities (and explain to them that extra privileges and trust come from knowing that they fulfill them). I'm sure this will all evolve as they get older, though. I don't think two bucks a week will cut it for very long!

  4. I love it when my daughter helps and do her list of 'chores'. I just wish I have my patience… sometimes it takes her so long that I end up just taking over… or maybe that is exactly her evil plan..

    Now if only there is a way to get my husband to help with this list of chores….

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