The 60+ Simple Tasks Our Children Do Every Day

posted by Andrea | 10/14/2019

simple daily tasks for children

I am continually asked what “chores” or responsibilities our kids have, and/or if we recommend any specific simple daily tasks for children at various age levels.

I’ll be honest, Dave and I surprisingly don’t have any type of system or “rule of thumb” for what tasks our kids should do at specific ages (you can find hundreds of these types of charts and posts on Pinterest though!)

And even though our family is very routine-oriented and scheduled, we haven’t found a chore chart or reward system that works well for us. Maybe we haven’t looked hard enough, maybe it’s just that Dave and I never remember to actually keep up with the charts, or maybe it’s because the majority of the people in our house can’t read a chart anyway!

Whatever the case, our family seems to function best with a handful of basic expectations that, although unwritten, are known and (usually) followed by all.

If you haven’t been able to make a “chore chart” work for your family, you might instead consider determining a set of simple daily tasks for your children (and everyone in your home).

The 60+ simple tasks we expect our children to do pretty much all the time, without 500 reminders. 

NOTE: our children are currently 7, 5, 4, and 2 — the 2-year-old needs help with most of these tasks.

Arriving Home: 

  • bring anything inside they brought outside and leave it in the mudroom (in case it’s dirty and needs to be cleaned)
  • pick up the inside of the van (trash, coloring things, books, snacks, etc.)
  • bring water bottles and anything they brought into the van back into the house
  • take off shoes, coats, etc. and put them away in the mudroom
  • hang wet swimsuits and towels over railings outside the mudroom
  • dump wet snow clothes in a pile on the rug and tell me so I remember to put them in the dryer
  • empty contents of their backpacks and hang backpacks up on hooks in the mudroom
  • bring lunch bags, water bottles, and school folders to the kitchen island
  • give me a hug 🙂
  • empty school papers into the designated bin in our kitchen and put folders back in their backpacks
  • go to the bathroom (if necessary) and WASH HANDS WELL! 

Leaving Home: 

  • make sure all lights, fans, noisemakers, music, etc. is turned off
  • go to the bathroom and/or brush teeth if necessary
  • grab water bottle and lunch or snack (depending on the day and where we’re going)
  • put on shoes, coat, and any extra outdoor gear that’s needed
  • grab backpacks and head out to the bus stop (school mornings) or get into the van 
  • make sure the back door is closed ALL THE WAY!

Mornings: 

  • make beds
  • go to the bathroom
  • get dressed & put PJ’s away
  • do hair (or ask me to do it for them)
  • come downstairs for breakfast
  • eat breakfast without tons of extra noise (my request!)
  • brush teeth 
  • look over any “school stuff” like Bible memory, spelling tests, math quiz, etc. or play upstairs

Meal Times: 

  • go to the bathroom and wash hands BEFORE we sit down
  • help set the table (if I haven’t done it already)
  • stay seated while eating 
  • use silverware (not fingers) while eating
  • try at least 2 bites of everything
  • listen quietly while we read after the meal
  • bring plate, silverware, and cup to the counter after the meal
  • put cloth napkin on their chair and push their chair up to the table
  • brush teeth (mainly just after breakfast)
  • play together upstairs or outside until the kitchen is cleaned up and all food is put away (or get ready to leave for the bus)

Bedtime: 

  • pick up everything (we help with this process and truly do pick up the entire house inside and outside)
  • choose clothes for the next day and set it out in the bathroom or in their bedroom
  • make sure everything they need for the next morning is ready to go in the mudroom (I help with this)
  • take showers (older 2) or baths (Dave gives the younger 2 their bath)
  • put dirty clothes in the hamper — we’re working on making sure their dirty clothes aren’t a massive tangled ball!
  • pick out 2 books to read
  • eat vitamins and grab their snack from the counter (usually grapes and cheese, per their request)
  • read by themselves (Nora) or with Dave or me while eating their snack
  • brush teeth
  • go to the bathroom
  • participate in singing songs and prayer request before turning out the lights
  • get into bed (younger 3 — Nora stays up to read for about 45 more minutes)
  • stay in their own beds all night long 

General: 

  • be helpful when asked or needed
  • play together with siblings, neighbors, friends, etc. and don’t exclude others
  • watch and help Clara when playing away from mom and dad’s line of sight
  • help pick up whenever we move onto another activity
  • don’t take something from someone else without asking
  • don’t interrupt when others are talking (we’ve been working on this one for a LONG time)
  • wash hands whenever they come inside, whenever they go to the bathroom, before eating, or after touching something germy (they are REALLY good about washing hands)
  • ask before getting anything to eat
  • put water bottles on the designated counter in the kitchen when not in use
  • ask before leaving the house for any reason
  • put seatbelts on immediately after getting into the van
  • always stay seated and buckled while in the van
  • stay by me, and watch younger siblings, when out and about, running errands, etc.
  • speak clearly and make eye contact when talking to others

three kid's lunches, ready for school

beach towels and swimsuits drying in the sun

organized mudroom with benches and hooks for clothing and shoes

kids backpacks lined up and ready for school

garage full of kids bikes, toys, and scooters

portable lunches packed in food storage containers

I’m sure there are things I’m forgetting… or maybe just not explaining well enough, but that’s our list! 

Most of these things are fairly “unspoken” around our house — a few are still a work-in-progress, but we’re getting there! 

Our list of expectations might seem way over-the-top for some families, while others will wonder why we don’t require more from our children. 

I don’t have a good answer for either side! 

This is just what works for OUR FAMILY right now! 

It is not necessarily the only way, the right way, or the best way… it’s just the Dekker way for October of 2019…  and believe me, you don’t all want to be like the crazy Dekkers! 🙂

.

So far, this system is working well for us (and it’s easy enough to stick with!) 

One thing I know for sure is that everything I just shared above WILL continually change over the next 10-15 years!

We will most definitely expect our children to help out more around the house and yard as they get older and more capable… and we very well might offer to pay them for helping more. Or we might not, and simply explain to them that they are part of our family and families help out when they can. 

Who knows! 

This is what works for now… I’m more than open to change in the future, but until this stops working for our family, this is what we’ll keep doing. How’s that for a vague answer! 🙂

I’d love to know how YOU handle responsibilities with your kids.

NOTE: I’ll be sharing more about allowances and money management for our children next week!

simple daily tasks for children

1Shares

Filed under: FamilyParentingChildren

Leave a comment

24 comments

  1. ShellyL

    11/04/2019

    I’m sure you’ve probably told us, but what is the purpose of the smaller bags with your children’s initials on them? Are they car bags or church bags? I’ve noticed them a few times now.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — no actual purpose. Dave’s mom made them for the kids 🙂
    They use them for church bags, or sometimes to take in the ar for longer road trips (anything over an hour is long for us!)

    [Reply]

  2. Natalia

    10/16/2019

    What a wonderful, long list! Great job!

    My little one (4yo) does not have a chore chart, but she’s very involved in EVERYTHING I do.
    For the older one (almost 14) I have 3×5 cards with different chores that I keep inside a door, on a kitchen cabinet. When something needs to be done, I place that card in the “TO DO” space. When she completes it, she moves to the “Done” space. I give her $1 per chore at the end of the week. This is her pocket money that she can use for the stuff she wants.

    I have started with very few expectations 3 years ago (the oldest one was 10 when she came to live with me as a foster child), and I’m trying hard to increase the list. You gave me some great ideas! Thank you!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks — I love your system too. Sounds like you’re doing a great job of teaching them independence and work ethic.

    [Reply]

  3. Veronica

    10/15/2019

    This was an awesome post! It’s so helpful to see what it’s like on the kids side. One of my biggest takeaways was that because you guys have a solid system in place, it makes it easier for them to do their tasks. For example, them hanging up their backpacks and putting their folders away after school makes it easier for them in the evening and morning when they can find their stuff easily. Putting their pjs away so they can easily access them the next day and keep their space clean, etc. Due to them doing these tasks every day it makes it easier later on in the day or the next day but also saves everyone lots of time! It goes along with your “do it now” perspective, which I love. They probably do most of these things automatically because they do it every day. Consistency is something we need to improve on at our house. You guys are doing a great job!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Veronica!
    You are correct… and although it has literally taken years of consistent effort on our part, we feel like it’s finally starting to pay off with more independent kiddos!

    [Reply]

  4. Meghan

    10/14/2019

    I love your list! Many of our family expectations are similar. We don’t have a chore chart either. It’s impossible and overwhelming to put everything they are responsible for on a chart, and other activities I have them do don’t need to be done on a regular schedule. My kids are older (4-12) but really are expected to help out whenever I ask. They do a great job, and I rarely have to ask twice. Outside of your list, our 12 year old does mow the yard when it’s needed, and my 9 year old cleans out the dishwasher daily.
    Can anyone give me advice on having the kids set the table? I know it would be super helpful, but I also prefer to not have anyone in the kitchen (in my way, haha) when I’m trying to get dinner finished up. I don’t want them to do it super early because we use the table for homework and play dough, etc sometimes before dinner. Thoughts?

    [Reply]

    Annette Silveira Reply:

    Have you thought about gathering everything necessary to set the table before you start cooking, and set it aside somewhere out of the way? Then when you’re ready to clear the table of the homework or play dough everything is ready to go without a child even needing to come into the kitchen.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Annette — this is a great ide )and often what we do around here too!)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    that’s awesome — Dave is really looking forward to when our kids can help with lawn mowing!
    As for setting the table — I TOTALY understand why you don’t want them in the kitchen — I’m exactly the same way! someone else suggested setting the dishes, napkins, cups, silverware, etc. on the table for the kids so they wouldn’t have to come into the kitchen — and this is essentially what we do. Our kids think it’s fun to set the table, so if I set everything they need out, they can get to work will I still enjoy my own kitchen space!

    [Reply]

    Meghan Reply:

    Thanks ladies! I’ll set out everything early, and they can set the table as soon as they get finished using it! That way I also don’t have to call them right before dinner.

    [Reply]

  5. Holly

    10/14/2019

    I love this! We have always expected ours to help like this as well. It teaches so much responsibility. Question- where did you get the blue containers with the clear lids that you show pictured with the snacks? I’ve seen you use them before with cheese stored in them I think. I love the shape and size and wanted to purchase some. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    we’ve had those blue containers forever… they are Preserve brand. Here’s the Amazon link

    [Reply]

  6. JJ

    10/14/2019

    You make me feel so much better!!! I never realized how many things they do, and I don’t need a chart to prove it. Thank you!!! We are STILL working on not interrupting. We also have read to them when they eat since they were babies. I eat a lot when I prep their meals and leave a little to eat with them. While we eat, this is when our interruptions are the worst. Haha! My husband randomly grabbed the nearest object(a Lego worked great!). He said only the person with the Lego could talk(as long as they have no food in their mouth). Everyone else had to raise their hand just to get the Lego to talk. And they had to wait until the person was done talking. He’s very introverted , so his perspective really helped. He also told them not to talk too long, because that isn’t fair to others. This has brought some control, but if someone gets wordy or excited to talk, it all goes out the window. Haha!!!

    A friend who has 4 older kids and was a communication major shared an activity she had her kids do(and it has helped me–an extrovert who is long winded): Sit in a circle with your kids. Say one sentence(question or comment) and bounce the ball to someone. That person answers the question or adds to the comment then bounces the ball to the next person. Continue the activity for a short time and practice every day/few days a week. Then train them to mentally bounce the ball to people in conversations. They can “pass the ball” to others by asking a question or saying something but have to wait until the other person bounces the ball back(say something back). I was so impressed with the effectiveness of this method. The mental visual helped me a lot!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — oh good! Yes, it’s sort of cool to realize ALL the things our kids can do around the house (even without a chore chart!)

    And thanks for the game idea — that’s a great concept for kids to learn early on in life!

    [Reply]

  7. Ashley

    10/14/2019

    Andrea, what a great list of expectations! We too have many expectations “just because you’re part of this family” When you’re ready to introduce more formal chores, I highly recommend the book “Smart Money Smart Kids” by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel (can’t remember her last name). My daughter has loved her charts since sometime before 3; we just use pictures. They only have one thing per year of age (she’s turning 4, so her new chart has 4 jobs).

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  8. Jen

    10/14/2019

    There’s a fairly good chance not interrupting will still be on the list in 10 years

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    NOOOOOOOOO!
    It drives me NUTS!

    [Reply]

  9. Ann

    10/14/2019

    In an effort to fill power buckets, we have started adding jobs to the typical expectations like you have listed. Our 8 year old now gets the mail, empties inside trash cans on the evening before trash day, empties the dishwasher, feeds the fish and is responsible for turning the tank light on in the morning and off at night, puts away his own clean underwear, socks, pjs, and helps set and clear the table. I expected flak when we gave him more contributions but actually, he asked for another one the other day. He likes being empowered in this way!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    ah yes, Nora and Simon will both get the mail too 🙂
    And Nora puts her laundry away (the boys still make too much of a mess out of it!)

    [Reply]

  10. Kate

    10/14/2019

    One of the largest predictors of whether or not ANY chore system works is typically one main thing…. kids WILL follow examples of parents. If parents consistently follow through and expect kids do what they being asked, they will do so also. If parents struggle with any system, I suggest doing it with them. I.e. help mom haul anything from the van into the house. Or let’s all brush our teeth after we eat. Etc. There will be challenges to any system until it’s a habit. And realize kids are learning life. They’ll forget or resist at times. Totally normal. Just keep expectations known and model and things will happen. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes yes!
    Dave and I can’t make a chore chart work right now… but I feel OK about what our kids are helping with around the house (and I do think they learn most of what they help with simply by watching us). You are so right!

    [Reply]

  11. Paulette

    10/14/2019

    I know from experience that you started training your babies early to meet these expectations. Children love and feel secure with structure and life is so much easier with routines. Good job Mom and Dad!

    [Reply]