As a kid, did you also yell at your parents that the only reason they had you was to clean the house? Well, I did!
But as a parent now myself, while I didn’t have children with the sole intended purpose of having little helpers around my house, they have come in handy. But good chores for 5 years old’s aren’t all the chores. Age-appropriate chores are a great way to teach your child to help out and have some sense of doing things as they get older.
I’m thankful for my girls, who might not love helping out around the house but help out all the same. I started daily chores for 5-year-old when my eldest was small. Now that both are well over 5, I’d like to share my experiences with appropriate chores for a 5-year-old.
Should a 5-year-old do chores?
Yes, they should! Now, they shouldn’t be doing anything difficult or dangerous. But this is the age where children WANT to help you. Preschool-aged children, 4-year-old, and even 5 and 6-year-old children, are eager to assist. They feel special when you ask, so make it fun.
But doing chores also teaches them some bigger things. They learn that everyone in the family should help each other out, plus they learn to do for themselves. And that’s big since they will be less entitled and spoiled.
Doing chores helps teach them a work ethic and how to do things well. It also gives them a chance to earn praise.
And as I’ve said before and I’ll say many times…if you want a repeat performance of any kind of behavior from your child, reinforce it, and you’ll get it. For something good like chores, you definitely want to heap on the praise so they’ll keep doing it.
How many chores should you give a 5-year-old child?
There really is no set rule for household chores for five years old in terms of how many they should have. A few minutes a day, once things are in a clean state, should be enough. They can complete bigger tasks on weekends.
Are you wondering about chore ideas for FIVE years old? I’ve got some suggestions below!
Appropriate chores for 5 year old
This chore list for a 5-year-old doesn’t mean you HAVE TO make them do everything on the list. Not all will apply. But these are great to start with and can lead to you having an enthusiastic helper too!
- Put the silverware away
We didn’t have a dishwasher in China, so my eldest was extra excited to help with unloading it. But she couldn’t reach the cabinets where we keep the dishes. The best way to let them help is to let them put the silverware away. Make sure you remove anything that could be too sharp first and then let them put it in the silverware drawer. Both my daughters will argue over who gets to do this chore because they think it’s so easy.
- Pick up after yourself
One of the best chore ideas for 5-year-olds is to pick up after themselves. Particularly their toys. Building this habit now ensures they will automatically do it after an activity. You may want to get easy storage bins for toys to give them a place to put everything.
- Help with sibling
If you have a baby in the house, your older child can be a big helper here. An age-appropriate chore for little ones that are the big sibling can be helping to grab you the stuff you need for feedings or diaper changes. As it can be overwhelming when a new baby is in the house, your elder child will feel important and necessary when doing this task. My eldest loved helping out when her little sister was a baby.
- Sorting tasks
When you have little kids, sorting is a great way to teach them groupings and get things done. Silverware is just one kind of sorting task, though you can do this with socks and other laundry parts. Sorting toys can be helpful to keep them organized, so see if they’ll get into it!
- Setting the table for meals
While I’d always put the plates on the table, having the girls set the table for our meals is a great age-appropriate chore for 5-year-olds. It’s something my girls still do to this day. When they know dinner is almost ready, they swoop in and place everything so that all I have to do is bring the food out.
- Clean up after meals
When my girls were small, I only had them put their dishes in the sink. But as they got to the ages of 5 and 6, I’d have them help me put leftovers away. Now, I have 2 girls who never leave their plates and cutlery behind on the table and always package up leftovers before I can even ask. At the age of 5, start with asking them to bring their plates, cups, and silverware into the kitchen. If they can reach the shelves in your fridge, show them how to close up a container and have them put it in there.
- Put away shoes
My husband used to come in and literally trip over the shoe montage by the door. We got a shoe rack, and this made it much more manageable. This was when they were smaller, too, and both girls would come in, take off their shoes, and then place them on the shoe rack. They very seldom forget to do so now, especially since they’ve been doing it for years.
- Help bring groceries in
When your 5 year old says, “Mommy, can I carry that?” as you get groceries out of the car, tell them, “YES!” While I wouldn’t advise letting them carry the eggs, anything breakable, or anything heavy, give them simple things to carry in. As a result, I now have 2 big girls who don’t have to be begged to help me lug in the groceries.
- Sop up spills
If you haven’t already, you could even teach this chore to a 3-year-old. Spills are all part of life and believe me, there have been times in my mom life when I wanted to scream, “Oh come ON!” when one of my girls has spilled something. But spills happen and using your restraint coupled with showing your child how to get a rag or paper towels to wipe up the mess benefits you in the end.
I once spilled something and pretended not to know what to do. My eldest was younger then, but she said, “Don’t worry, Mommy!” And she came running over with some paper towels to clean up the mess. When you teach your kids to do this, they will never make a fuss over messes again and clean things up, a win-win!
- Fold hand towels and rags
My girls wanted to help with the laundry when they were young. But they’d fold everything all wonky, and I’ve had to redo it. Even worse, I’d have to wait until they left the room so I could re-fold it without hurting feelings.
But I came up with a golden solution:
To let them fold any hand towels, rags, or washcloths that I’d done. They felt helpful, and it helped them form a habit of helping with the laundry. Now that they’re bigger, when I do the laundry, they come to help me separate it and then put their own clothes away.
- Tidy up the table
I don’t know about you, but our coffee table can sometimes become a gathering place of sorts for dolls, cups, books, and other things. I started this one when my eldest was about 6 years old, but I’d say, “It’s tidy table time!” My eldest would grab up all the things that didn’t belong there as fast as she could.
Eventually, my little one noticed and started helping too. And nowadays, they still tidy up the table. They love to call my husband out when he leaves his stuff all over it too.
- Put simple trash in the garbage
Little kids tend to leave little scraps of paper and wrappers around. Especially when you’re doing a craft. So make them the “Trash Ambassador.” This is one of the most important daily chores for 5-year-olds because if there’s anything worse than not picking up your belongings, it’s leaving trash around. Have them clear the table of napkins after meals and throw out any other not-so-messy pieces of garbage.
- Kitchen prep
I get it that some nights, you need to get in the kitchen, get things going, and get it on the table fast. So when your kids ask to help you cook, don’t say no. At least not every time. If it’s a busy night, tell them that you can plan the meal together the next day. Then give them carrots to peel. Or snap green beans together.
Hand them ingredients and have them build them. You can have them get out the ingredients they can reach or simple kitchen tools like measuring cups and spoons.
- Feed the family pet
You’ll definitely need to supervise this one, but teaching your child to care for the family pet is a great chore. Show them how to put the food in the dish and always keep an eye out to make sure they’re not giving too much. My youngest was in tears because our fish died. She had definitely fed them too much, but we didn’t have the heart to tell her that.
- Separate recycling
My youngest has always adored helping with recycling. While I won’t ever give her any sharp can lids, she will gather any water bottles or empty boxes and put them in the proper bin. She’s been doing this since she was 5 years old, so if you have recycling, there isn’t a more appropriate chore for 5-year-olds.
- Wipe surfaces after meals
Since she was 5 years old, my eldest has always cleaned the dining table, and all kitchen surfaces. She once asked me if she could do it when she was 5, so I handed the spray and rag over to her, and she’s been doing it ever since…well, mostly. See, when my youngest turned 5, she soon after wanted to do what her sister did, so they would argue. And now, they’re old enough to alternate the chore.
How do I get my 5-year-old to do chores?
Pay attention to your child. When they ask to help or are curious about a chore you’re doing, as long as it is safe, show them. Little ones are inquisitive by nature, and they also love to help. So use this as your chance to get them to help.
Even if you missed the boat on that, though, you can still teach your kids how to do chores. The key is not to redo anything in front of them. The t-shirts may be folded oddly but thank them anyway and just live with it. They WILL get better. The objective is for them to help.
A chore chart might be helpful too. I like this one that makes it easy to change to whatever you need and keeps everyone (even Mom and Dad!) organized. Do whatever works for you, though always remember through all of this that you want to show your child how to be helpful around the house, not how to clean everything perfectly. It’s not going to be perfect yet, but they get better as they grow, and before you know it, they’ll clean it better than you!
Inappropriate chores for 5-year-old children
So now that we’ve talked about good chores your 5-year-old child can do, let’s talk about some that I think are best to wait until they’re older.
- Loading and unloading the dishwasher
While handling silverware (as long as it’s not sharp steak knives) is totally fine for a 5-year-old, there’s a lot at stake when you hand over dishes. Between the hot temperatures of unloading just-finished dishes and the slipperiness that plates and glasses can present, it’s just not a great idea.
Plus, even with a step stool, your little one likely can’t reach the cabinets where you keep these items. Wait until they’re a bit bigger, around 10 years old for this one.
Depending on your vacuum, it may be too heavy for your child at this age. Another concern is if you have stairs. Your child may fall trying to vacuum them, even using a cordless model.
The biggest concern for vacuuming at the age of 5 is that kids this age don’t realize you can’t vacuum everything. As such, you’ll pull out beads, doll clothes, and all sorts of stuff. And likely, you’ll wind up needing a new vacuum.
There’s nothing wrong with having your 5-year-old assist with a few things in the kitchen, like snapping the ends of green beans. You could even show them how to make their own peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
However, I think letting your 5-year-old use the stove or toaster oven is dangerous. You can let them use the microwave only under your direct supervision though I advise waiting until they’re about 7 for this. When I was little, I accidentally pushed 20 minutes instead of 2 minutes on the microwave, and boy, was that a disaster.
A 5-year-old child shouldn’t do anything that requires heating or the use of a knife.
Sorry, Cinderella. You’ll have to mop your own floors for now. My biggest fear with advising you to let your 5-year-old mop the floors is that they may accidentally mix the wrong chemicals and release toxic fumes. Even if you only give them white vinegar to clean the floors, there’s that slippage factor. It’s just too soon to have them get into mopping.
- Cleaning the bathroom
While your 5-year-old can surely pick up after themselves and keep things tidy in the bathroom, like hanging up their towels and putting their toothbrush and toothpaste away, they can’t clean the whole bathroom. Let’s not forget that at the age of 5, your child still needs your supervision while brushing their teeth. Therefore, they’re just not capable of cleaning the bathroom in its entirety as of yet.
- Ironing clothes
I have to confess that I despise ironing. That said, I’d never have allowed my daughters anywhere near the iron at 5. Grown adults that know what they are doing have burned themselves on an iron. And even if your child somehow escapes injury, they can easily burn clothes or burn down the house if they don’t use the iron properly. Hard pass!
- Taking the dog for a walk
This one will only apply if you have a dog, but I don’t think your 5-year-old should be walking the dog independently. So much can go wrong here. It’s just not worth the risk. If you have a big dog, your kiddo shouldn’t be the one to walk it. Even if the dog is small, the dog could pull on the leash and run out of your child’s grasp.
And what if some creep sees your child walking around outside by themselves?
No, no, and no. If your child wants to come along with you or your spouse to walk the dog, that’s totally different. But you, as the adult, need to hold the leash, no exceptions. Children at the age of 5 are still learning that it’s not a good idea to run into the street when their ball rolls there. I shudder to think of what kind of disaster may come from a child this age walking the dog.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.