When it comes to chores, you usually wish for Mary Poppins and her carpetbag of magic tricks. But, even if you don’t have a spoonful of sugar, you do have kids who can pitch in. They’ll learn how to be responsible, how to cooperate and even better, teaching your kids basic house skills almost guarantees you won’t ever get the “my whites are pink” phone call. Read on for a list of chores kids should be doing on their own by the time they’re 10.

photo: Jessica Lucia via Flickr

Two-and three-year-olds

Pick up the toys. Your toddler is adorable. And messy. Ask her to help you clean up when play time is over. It’s easy to do, and it’s a game-changer at day’s end when you’d rather be watching terribly-irresistible reality TV instead of breaking your back over DUPLO blocks.

Dust with a Swiffer or feather duster. Make it a game and you’ll have dust-free shelves and furniture in no time.

Throw away trash. Oscar the Grouch doesn’t live here. Garbage belongs in the can.

Put dirty clothes in the hamper. Show your toddlers where the clothes go before they choose their own drop spot. 

photo: Colleen Proppe via Flickr

Four-and five-year-olds

Feed the pets. Your preschooler loves the dog, the chickens, and the family turtle. Well, no time like the present to teach him how to take care of something smaller than he is. 

Make their own bed. This is a tough one because busy school mornings can get in the way. Weekends are wide open, however, and there’s nothing like a made bed to give your home a clean, fresh feeling.

Collect the mail. This one doesn’t even feel like a chore.

Put away clean utensils. It’s the little things!

photo: Jens Ohlig via Flickr

Six-and seven-year-olds

Set and clear the table. You prepared the meal, so your kids should set and clear. Simple as that. Psst! If they do the cooking, the same rule should apply to you. 

Put away laundry. Imagine a place where the laundry actually gets put away, instead of collecting dust in a basket somewhere. This can be your reality. 

Take control of their own school gear. Stop gathering your kids’ stuff every night or morning. These early years are the right time to set up good work habits.

Help prep a basic meal. If kids with knives don’t sound like a good idea there are plenty of other things they can do. Think: gather ingredients, measure spices, crack and whisk eggs, grate cheese, flip pancakes and more.

photo: courtesy CDA Appliances

Eight-and nine-year-olds

Move clothes from washer to dryer. Most kiddos ages eight and up are tall enough (and old enough) to start helping with the laundry. If there are items you don’t want in the dryer or if you like to use a certain heat setting, be sure to show any new helpers the ropes in advance.

Load and unload the dishwasher. Most days, after unloading, the thing fills right back up and needs to be unloaded again. Your early tween is an ideal candidate for helping out with this daily task.

Help with recycling and garbage. Older kids can easily sort recyclables, empty wastebaskets, and help pull trash cans in from the road. It’s also a good way for them to view the family’s level of consumption and to see where waste goes.  

Vacuum the rugs. The best part about handing off this task is that your kids will have to keep their rooms picked up in order to fulfill their duty.

Do your kids help with household tasks? Share with us in a Comment below!

—Gabby Cullen