Most of us grew up having chores to do each week to gain some pocket money. Of course, as children that was all it was to us, but as adults we now realise it was more about teaching us to not only appreciate the things we were given but to put in some effort in exchange for them.
From the time your child can easily ask for items it is okay to start introducing them to the concept of helping around the house. There is no need for pocket money at this young age as it is more about the concept of helping others. As your child gets to school age then you can implement a pocket money exchange.
For the two to three year olds, the following ideas are chores that help them grasp the concept of helping around the house. If you want to know what other chores kids in the Baby Hints and Tips community are doing – see the comments at the bottom of this article!
Helping with the groceries
When you do the weekly groceries put a couple of things in a grocery bag and ask your child to help you put the groceries away. Make sure they are things that are easy to put away and not heavy so that they feel a sense of pride and achievement at having achieved the task on their own.
Tidying up the bath toys
At the end of bath time give your child the task of putting the bath toys back into their bag/bucket ready for next time.
Tidying their room
Begin at a young age to instil in your child the need to keep their space tidy. Once a week make a time to have them help you tidy their room. Give them the task of putting their clothes away in the draws they can reach once you have folded them. Don’t get hung up on whether the clothes stay folded, just enjoy the experience of teaching your child the process of independence.
Making their bed
If a child can sleep in a bed then they are old enough to make their bed. Of course, the standard won’t be to your standard but it’s time to move aside and allow them the freedom to do their best.
Helping with meal preparation
Create a workspace where they can easily and safely be beside you to assist with meal preparation. Simple things like putting the cut vegetables into a bowl are easy enough for a child to do and shows them the importance of preparing healthy meals.
Keep in mind the age of your child. Don’t chastise them for not doing a chore to the way you would do it, even if you have shown them a dozen times. They are learning and nothing helps learning more than praise and encouragement!
Do you ask or expect your child to do chores? What do you think is age appropriate for a two-to-three year old?
Still thinking about the kids in your home and what jobs they do (or don’t do!) here’s our community responses to a kids and chores question.
Community Question: I would love to know how or when parents manage to have a clean house with kids. My 5 and 2 yo girls are always into everything and leaving a trail of destruction behind them. By the time I have fixed what they have done I have no time to do anything else. I feel a bit like I can’t spend as much time with them or do as much things with them as I constantly have something to do around the house…
- Do your kids pack up their own toys? My 2 and 4 year old pack up their toys or I throw them out!! They put their used meal plates etc in the sink and wipe down the table. I do feel like I nag them, but I’ve got a 4 week old too so it’s teaching them responsibility!! They don’t always oblige happily, but they know the consequences. I vacuum every day, but I am lucky enough to have a cleaner once a fortnight. It’s the one thing I think I deserve!! I do 1 load of washing everyday to keep in top of it…Sarah
- Involve them in tidying, make sure they pack away toys they are finished with, take dirty washing to Laundry etc, then do bulk of it at night. Kelly
- I try to focus my energy on hygiene instead of neat and tidy or I would go mad. Naomi
- I agree with all the other mums. My girls are 5 & 3 and make my house look like a bomb even though they are only home a couple of hours a day. I do dishes and floors at night and general tidy but leave their rooms till the weekend as they earn ‘pocket money’ (basically a special treat) during grocery shop on a Saturday. If they haven’t cleaned their room or at least attempted to tidy up then no treat. I figure that my husband and I both work full time and girls are in daycare (starting prep in a few weeks) & we spend less time together than we like so why stress over the big things as long as the house is clean who really cares about toys and unfolded washing. Courtney
- Oh you’re not alone lol, I just leave mine until bedtime, really no point in trying to have a clean house with kids during the day as I’m repeating myself 4 or more times over, let them be kids and have fun, mess is what they do, and if anyone feels like they want to complain about it then obviously they have never been parents to young children or have nothing better to do than put you down. Enjoy them whilst they’re young, enjoy they’re mess and just go with the flow. Michelle
- I’m a tad spoilt, we have a Roomba that is scheduled to go off at 11am every day so I only need to vacuum the carpeted areas once every couple of days. Dishes, laundry & tidying up the house I do after DD is in bed, although in saying that there’s not generally much about as DD will help late afternoon as dinner’s cooking to tidy the house, we’ve been making it a game of late, who cam get the toys back in the playroom the fastest. I don’t bother cleaning during the day I learnt (the hard way) that it’ll only drive you mental cleaning & turning around to find it back to dirty again. I HATE having a dirty house but have decided to take a step back & just roll with it & worry about it later, my friends cant believe the state of my house sometimes & I just say, it’s not messy, it’s lived in’ Easier said than done I know but try and not worry about it during the day & just roll with it, you’ll feel much better about everything before you know it, I promise. Kristin
- Leave the mess and play with them lovely! I am an OCD clean freak! But once my LO started walking I had to learn to let it go! I clean up once while she has her lunch (dishes and toys) and again when she goes to bed. If there’s a big morning mess ill clean it up while she has her nap (that doesn’t help you though) do 2 clean ups a day and let them play, they’re kids after all so let them be kids and join in! Who cares if there are toys everywhere? It’s not like its rubbish and dirt. I do my proper clean once she’s in bed (dinner dishes and toys and vacuuming) I get her to help me hang out the washing but mostly she just plays next to me while I do it. It took me ages to just let go and let her play, now I play with her and I also get her to help me at times (she’s only 18mo) get them to help you pack up their toys! You need to instill these behaviours early. My LO will put her toys back in her toy box and put things in the bin too! Hope this helps. Becka
- I actually noticed this evening whilst at a friend’s house that my kids have gotten into good habits at home. After using one of their towels after swimming they asked where the washing basket was and after dinner asked where they wanted them to put their plates etc. Things I take for granted at home I never really noticed they’d had these habits inbuilt enough to carry them on outside our own home. Bek
- I keep it tidyish during the day, then clean at night and frankly if anyone comes over and says anything they can kiss my rosy pink arse. Jodi
- Honestly, I don’t. My house is toddler chic. I clean the kitchen daily as it needs it, I run the Hoover round regularly and wash the floors on the weekend but there’s almost always a pile of ironing waiting to be done and toys from one end to the other . It’s clean but messy and life’s too short to worry too much about it. Plus it’s 44 in Perth today and my air con has packed in so it’s also too hot!! Margaret
- I have a 3 month old, 2yr old, 4 yr old and 6yr old and I just potter along with the housework between my 3month olds feeds during the day and in between dealing with the various “tragedies” that the others have throughout the day (e.g. she took my toy, he hit me, he’s not sharing etc etc) and I fold any washing that is still not folded in the evening when the kids go to bed. They go to bed at 7:30pm and baby goes down for the night at around 9-9:30pm Dishes as I go throughout the day or any overflow done in morning while kids eat brekky (if I’m not feeding baby- otherwise when I’m finished) floors swept after each meal and mopped every second day at some point when they’re playing and baby is settled or asleep. Washing done as it comes along so I never have more than a load or 2 to do. Bek
- I make sure that I play with my toddler for a while first then teach her to play by herself for a while. In that time I do some chores. If she has made too many messes, I play a pack away game first before she makes any more mess teaching her how to pack away. I leave the majority of the rest to the late afternoon when it’s close to dinner time so I don’t get frustrated. I think it’s all about teaching. You must consistently show them how to do it and then just like brushing their teeth; they will just know to do it. Kelly
- Have fun with the kids. Get down and dirty with them. Mine are 7 & 10 now but I have everything sorted into boxes eg box of cars, box of dolls or blocks etc. As toddlers they were allowed a box of their choosing to play with. Once finished and before getting something else the rest needed to be packed away (do this together) you can use it as a counting exercise eg I’m going to get 6blocks to put in the box how many can you get. Hang washing out together, kids pass the pegs and you might want 2 yellow, 3 blue and oops I just pegged a green and a red one on your shorts (teaches then fine motor skills squeezing it to get it off, you also of course might be able to hang 4 items while they do this). Eat every meal together, clear up together. While you vacuum ask then to help and let them do a certain spot. Then hand them a slightly damp rag and give the “special job” to them to clean the door handles or walls or anything whilst you finish it off. My children help with everything and they also know that if I vacuum the house, one of them hangs the washing and the other does the dishes we have way more time to sit and read together or play board games, go to the beach together etc Kristy
- My 4 under 6 are now grown up, my ‘baby’ being 19 this year. Prioritise. Time with your kids is more important than a shiny house, and this is what you seem to be saying too. Have fun with them; get them to help you pack up, do a big pick up at the end of the day, if you have the energy. As long as the place is hygienic, a little untidyness is perhaps the norm for this stage of life. I also used to do a big clean up on Mondays when the kids went back to preschool and school, but that doesn’t help you much if you’re still with pre-schoolers. I also used to colour code things like towels and mugs so that I knew who was responsible for not cleaning up their mess and could follow up on them. Sharon
- I leave it till kid’s bed time too. I am a neat freak so it took a while to adjust but I just got sick of going around in circles. I mainly just focus on hygiene during the day. I am also getting into the habit of getting my 2 year old to clean up after herself, well at least help. A clean house with kids is my goal, hopefully I will get there. Nel
- Whilst I focus on one room, another is being destroyed lol Whilst I don’t really like it too messy, I’m happy enough if it’s clean – so I make sure I vacuum a few times a week, and spot clean what I can. Everything has a place, and doesn’t take too long to clean, providing the kids leave it there for 5 mins! I have high hopes for a cleaner/tidier home with master 4 at kinder this year and Miss 18 months in a couple of days childcare – maybe I’ll get stuff done, and appreciate for a few hours lol. Jodie
- My mum suggested once the kids go to bed do 30 mins of housework each night. You will be surprised what you get done in the way of chores. I do a load of washing at night when kids go to sleep. I do a quick run over of floors after breaky. When bubs goes down for morning nap I hang out the washing and have play time. I tidy once a day and at night while I’m nursing my 1 yr old, my 2 and 4 yr old have to clean up their toys. Kym
- We also encourage our 20mth to place his dirty dishes in the sink with help from us of course and he picks up food that may have “fallen” over the side of the high chair. Rebecca
- Encourage them to help clean up before moving on to the next activity/toy. Rebecca
- Clean up at lunchtime when 2 year old has nap and do washing and hang out, sweep and mop floors and wipe over everything at night. Megan
- I do my big stuff on preschool days and wash up, sweep the floor and put a load of washing on while they are having breakfast and watching peppa pig. Elise
- My 2 older girls are 9 and almost 6 and I still can’t keep on top of the housework because they just leave crap laying where they drop it! (Now mr 14 months is starting to walk, he’s worse than both the girls haha). However…I have been very firm recently with ‘small chores’ for them each and if the don’t do them or fight more than do their chores I take things away from them. Perhaps try giving the kiddies ‘small chores’..ie: pack away toys, put dirty clothes in the hamper, dishes in the sink. Help loading/un-loading dishwasher. But otherwise, try cleaning at night, or just do the basic necessities daily and have 1 day a week where you do everything and give the house a really good clean. Racheal
- I work nights too. I just have set jobs each day. Get done what I can and don’t stress about the rest. Vicy
- My partner works from 11am till between midnight and 2am so his never home! I do the dishes and clear and clean the benches (I hate when benches are full of stuff lol) I will tidy up if I can during the day but if not do it while my 5 yr old is in the bath or wait till he goes to bed and do it all! My floors get a mop every 2nd day, bathrooms I can get done during the day as my son finds it boring lol! On weekends when partner is home I can do a full on clean while his home cause my sons never leaves him alone so it’s my ‘free’ day lol. Kirstie
- We go out most mornings: play dates, park, library. If you are constantly picking up after your kids then you are probably putting the same things back over and over. It’s more efficient to leave it for a few hours and do it in bulk. Jodi
- Teach the children to clean up after themselves to the best of their ability. Sheree
- When I play with them we pack up as we go. I do other stuff quickly between games. And when they lay down or are in bed. Brooke
- I have miss 2 Mr. 3 and master 5month old, mess drives me bonkers lol but I think I try to achieve too much through the day, I get up before them to collect dirty clothes have a coffee and shower, dress them and put washing on while they eat breakfast, we usually go out in the mornings because they don’t nap to tire them out a little. I mop twice a week and do pickups while dinner is on, I fold washing while they eat do milk before bed and them sweep nightly. Kids help with their room before bed. It’s a struggle so I’m learning to chill out a little lol Krissy
- Mr. nearly 3 is an earlier riser (5.30am) so once breakfast is sorted (usually by 630) I do whatever house work I had for the day (washing, bathrooms, floors etc – I do one thing a day to spread it all out) while he watches some abc4kids. I also have a rule – one lot of toys at a time – so if he wants to play with blocks, he has to pack away the trains etc. He has been involved in packing away his toys since he was 1. There is no reason why they shouldn’t get involved. He also has to help pack away everything in the evening so we start with a tidy house each day. That way it makes it manageable. Kelly
- I’m lucky co my almost 3 yr old goes to daycare 2 days a week. But I am also pregnant and the moment which makes it harder to find motivation. We try and encourage her to pick up her toys when she has finished playing and then at night as part of our night time routine either my husband or myself will go around and finish the rest. Then once a fortnight I tackle to mopping and vacuuming. Samantha
- I leave it until after bedtime then I clean up the days mess so I can relax! I get my 18mo to help pack up blocks etc before dinner time so she learns to pack up toys. Emma
- At night. Nicole
- It might also be worth doing a toy cull or packing away quite a few items which you can then rotate every few weeks. Sometimes when there is so much to choose from it is easy for them to pull everything out & not really play with it. Those big clear plastic tubs are good for storing toys & then you can tuck them away in a wardrobe, shed or under your bed so they are hidden away. I have also found this to be a really good way to manage toys everywhere. Kelly
- My 20 month old gets into everything she can reach. I’ve started teaching her to put her toys back in her toy room and to pick up after herself in general eg. Putting dirty clothes in the laundry, taking dishes to the kitchen bench etc. as for the rest of the house I have a mind set that i just tell myself that “messy isn’t dirty” I always have a clean kitchen though, it’s the one thing I can’t stand! My girls go to care 2x a week (1/2 day for my 4month old) so I can take some time and go to the gym, get groceries and these are generally my washing days as I take all the clothes to the laundromat to get dry and just have to hang the towels/bedding. Rest of the house gets clean when I have time/energy. Chanelle
- Mine is 3 and I work plus am pregnant so right now it stays until I can find the energy to sit down and pack away his toys. He has learnt to pack things away at the end of the day but as he does day care full time the house always looks like a bomb hit it over the weekend. Through the week it’s reasonably clean as I do what I can on my days off but the floor is swept and detol wiped daily with their new mop sort thing and dish washed plus benches wiped. Bed time for him right now is bed time for me. Alex
- I think everyone’s comments are very valid. I set very high expectations on myself each day and unfortunately there are not enough hours in the day to fit in all the cleaning amongst other things such as washing, shopping and going out. I find its all about time management. I put my washing on a preset at night so it’s ready to put out in the morning while my daughter is eating her breakfast. I also put dishwasher on at night so I can unload in the morning. Vacuuming I do every couple of days and I get my bubba involved! She thinks she is vacuuming too ha ha! It might take me twice as long but it’s fun! I usually do a lot of cleaning during the day when she is asleep because I think it’s important to have some “me” time at night and wind down n relax before you go to bed. Also I love playing with my daughter and seeing what she is into….Amy
- Set yourself little tasks each day 1 load of washing on, 1 off and put away. Dishes as u go if u have a refillable sponge thing lol can’t think of the name. Then I tackle one room each day that I don’t work when my boys nap. It is amazing how much u can get done in an hour or so. But at the end of the day the housework must slip a bit so we can enjoy our children. Maybe talk to hubby about how u feel too. Paula
- I have a 12yr old, a 2yr old and a 8mth old. I do a surface clean once a week. If it’s a hard week the floors and the loos are the winners! Once a month I clean everything, and every three months a mini spring clean. Rebecca
- I used to do floors and mop entire house daily whilst miss almost 2 naps now I’m 31 weeks pregnant I mop once or twice a week and just keep dirt of floor. Dishes and laundry in the morning before hubby goes to work and than put away at night when he’s back home. He works 7.30 til 6pm 6 days so it’s a long day for us all but the hour he’s home before bed I tackle as much as I can. But I’m sure once number 2 comes along itl all change. Holly
- I’m a neat freak too though lately my kids aren’t napping and are staying awake past too…. Sometimes you just have to do things in moderation and relax about the mess… Mine are 2 and 5 too. Rachel
- You’re definitely not alone! Our son is almost 2 so is starting to learn to put toys back when he’s finished playing…but majority of the time out entire house is a play gym! I force myself to resist cleaning toys and play areas through the day (took me a long time ️) I finally figured that kids will play and be messy until they pass out at bedtime…so what’s the point? Hehe. so that frees me up to do house cleaning!! My fiancé and I like to have the house back to normality by nighttime, so then we don’t feel like we are living in a Childcare centre!! Makes our time together much more enjoyable! Lauren
- Usually when the kids go to bed. Megan
- I have a cleaning routine to keep on top of things. But when it comes to toys etc i leave it until the end of the day unless it piling up major in the lounge room! Don’t worry so much about the house; spend time with your babies. Washing gets done first thing in the morning, we wash up after every meal, I do a quick vacuum or sweep of the house in the morning. All up I spend probably half an hour tidying up the house and then I have the rest of the day to spend with the kids, if you keep on top of things, it doesn’t take long to do it everyday. I fold washing when the kids have a sleep in the afternoon. (Eldest one will sometimes watch cartoons or lay down in bed reading books instead), but we always have that hour or so of quiet time in the afternoon. Hannah
- I only have one kid (21 months) and he’s a tornado. I try and get him to put things way when he wants to move onto something else. Or I try and confine the toys to one room. After all the toys are away for the night (he does it) and is getting bathed by dad I do a quick sweep, quick once-over in the kitchen and that’s it. I can clean big stuff like bathroom and toilers fairly easily when I need to do and he doesn’t get in the way too much which helps. Emma
Check out the lazy mum’s cleaning guide for some tips to creating a clean house with kids