Chore Assignments The Prudent Homemaker

There is no way I can do it all. 

With a big family comes big messes, and lots of laundry and dishes. 

The secret is . . . everyone helps! And because everyone helps, they all learn how to do the things they will need to do to keep their own homes running when they are adults.

We’ve made some recent changes to our chore assignments.

I’ve assigned more to Ivory, who is now 4 and can do quite a few things to help.

I also added a few new chores, such as wiping the kitchen cabinets and counters. The job to wipe the kitchen cabinets is to do just one section a day, so that within a couple of weeks, everything will have been wiped down. I added this after reading how Yvonne at Stonegable wipes down all of her kitchen cabinets once a week. She says it’s a fast job. I’ve never been able to do it quickly, and I certainly don’t get it done that often! They could use it more often, though, so I added that chore. One section takes about 5 minutes to wipe well.

I also ended up with a few gaps in the chart; four, to be exact. I had nothing for those times. After discussing it with my husband, we decided to create a new chore that we named “Special Assignment.” I choose something that needs to be done (but not done every day) and the child will work on that. I choose jobs that take 5-10 minutes to finish. A few things I’ve chosen so far for this are:

Organize a drawer

Straighten the pantry for 5-10 minutes

Dust a specific piece of furniture

Dust a ceiling fan

Clean the toaster

Wipe door handles


My children are Winter, 14, Cyrus, 13, Ezrom, 11, Liberty, 9, Wren, 8, Elsa 6, Ivory 4,  and Octavius, who is 4 months now  (and whose only job is to look cute). 

On a normal day, we have 4 loads of laundry, run the dishwasher after every 2 meals (because that’s 18 plates/bowls, etc.!) , and wash a good number of pots and pans. I wash the pots, pans, mixing bowls, and do the laundry washing and drying, cook, clean, garden and sew (and everything else mothers d0).


Here are our new chore assignments:


Before Breakfast:


Get dressed, brush hair and wash face

Make bed

Straighten bedroom

Sort dirty laundry

Winter: Help with Breakfast

Cyrus: Wash two doors

Ezrom: Put away clean dishes

Liberty: Take out trashes

Wren: Pick up living room

Elsa: Pick up and Sweep East hall

Ivory: Pour waters and Set Table


Fold and put away laundry

After Breakfast:


Clear Spots

Brush Teeth

Winter: Sweep under table

Cyrus: Wipe table and chairs

Ezrom: Wash dishes

Liberty: Sweep and mop kitchen floor

Wren: Special Assignment

Elsa: Tidy mudroom

Ivory: Pick up living room

Before Lunch:


Put away school books and pencils

Winter: Pick up by front door and Vacuum kitchen rug and rug by front door

Cyrus: Sweep and mop wood floor by piano

Ezrom: Special Assignment

Liberty: Pick up living room

Wren: Set table and pour drinks

Elsa: Help Mom with lunch

Ivory: Pick up Library

After Lunch:


Clear Spots

Winter: Wipe Kitchen counters and cabinets

Cyrus: Special Assignment

Ezrom: Clean Bathroom

Liberty: Wash dishes and Run dishwasher

Wren: Sweep and mop under table

Elsa: Clean girls’ Bathroom

Ivory: Wipe table and chairs

Before Dinner:

Winter: Pick up and sweep West hall

Cyrus: Put away clean dishes

Ezrom: Sweep under the table

Liberty: Pick up and Vacuum living room

Wren: Tidy backyard

Elsa: Special Assignment

Ivory: Wipe table, set table and pour waters


Clean and vacuum rooms

5 Minutes cleaning in the Library


After Dinner:


Clear Spots

Put on pajamas

Brush teeth and wash face

Winter: Sweep wood floor by piano

Cyrus: Wash dishes

Ezrom: Clear and wipe table

Liberty: Sweep under table

Wren: Vacuum Library

Elsa: Sweep and mop kitchen floor

Ivory: Wipe chairs

Looking for more chore ideas? You can read about some of our past chore assignments here.


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  1. I’m surprised little Ivory can do something like pour water for everyone. Most 4 year olds I know would spill half of it in the process! It’s wonderful that your children can help you out so much.

  2. I think this is great. When I was growing up, I also had to help out with my 4 other siblings and our jobs changed every night for in the kitchen and everyone had a designated room they were responsible for cleaning. It is a great lesson for them to learn to help out.

  3. We live in what we call a combined family it is my grown son who is almost 30 his wife their three kids myself and my hubby who are in our 60’s I do all of this and more for everyone and when I said we needed to share the chores they all balked so much it was a fight for almost one year. So recently I have stopped doing it all and just let it sit because it was too much for just me but if they don’t want to do it then they can live in the mess. I am not going to kill myself because everyone is too lazy to pitch in.

  4. Another small chore I added when mine were little, was to use a damp cloth and clean the light switch plates. With many hands turning them on and off they get very dirty very quick.

    Your children are beautiful.

  5. Mine can do it at age 2, and pour waters then (but they will spill at age 2. I can still spill though if I’m not careful! It’s just water so not a huge deal.) They don’t do plates; I plate food on the table and older children do it. Setting the table at my house is putting out cloth napkins and silverware (no knives; I’ll get those if we need them). I keep water in old juice jugs (half gallon size) that have a small opening. I don’t know that she would do well with a pitcher.

  6. I like doing the laundry washing and drying 🙂 It’s one of those chores I really enjoy. Plus, I like getting it washed and out of the way when they are asleep/doing other chores. Pots and pans are not a job I enjoy. However, washing the pots and pans means waiting for the person doing dishes. I try not to have too many chores where you are waiting for a sibling before you can do your chores. I have a few (such as wipe the table before sweeping under it) but in the past having dependant chores did not go well. My oldest two still have not managed to clean the pots and pans well enough that I haven’t had to rewash them. Most chores I won’t redo; kid clean is good enough, but I’m not fond of soap or food left in pans. They might get put on that job later, but for now I will continue to wash them.

  7. I enjoyed reading this post. In the past I have made chore charts and assignments for my children. I have slacked off the past couple of years since I only have one child at home (14 years old) and I just give him verbal assignments. But they’re not very consistent. This has got me thinking of how I can set up a simple system for him. Thanks!

  8. I love your schedule post yesterday and this chore post. My children are all grown and gone now but when they were young they really thrived with responsibilities and schedules. Really made everyone’s life more pleasant, and the added bonus that now they are very independent and wonderful cooks. Great series of posts and I really appreciate the glimpse into your lives and how you choose to organize your home. And by the way, Octavius has his job nailed!

  9. Brandy, I am curious why you have one child picking up the living room before breakfast, then another doing the same chore after breakfast? How did it get that disorganized in the morning that it requires 2 children to clean it up? Not judging or critisizing… just genuinely curious.

    I wish I was able to get my daughter to do chores. Being on the Autism spectrum, major sensory issues and her psychiatrist suggesting she also has Oppositional Defiance Disorder, getting her to do anything can be a massive battle, bordering on WWIII. I am hoping to receive help with this soon through an ABA program. At least I finally have her making her own school lunch and during the summer she often made herself something to eat for lunch, too. We previously had her take a program that taught cooking skills. As she is maturing, I’m noticing her more willing to use those skills. I certainly am aware she needs to learn life skills, but it just happens differently with her special needs than typical children.

  10. Robert, I too live with my mother with my husband and daughter. Your frustration on chores also happens in our home. However, I’d like to give you another side that you may not have considered. My mother has a high expectation for how she likes to keep her home…and always has. As a child, I remember my brother and I approaching my mother asking to do chores in exchange for an allowance. She grudgingly agreed and set out what chores we were to do. After doing said chores, she said we didn’t do them to her expectations and did not give us the full allowance. Subsequently, the chores were never done by us again.

    I don’t have an issue with doing things around the home. My issue is that my mother wants me to do them when she thinks they need to be done and to her specifications. I am an adult, who works outside the home during certain times of the year. I have my own ways of doing things, and need to do them on my own schedule, which my mother doesn’t like. So, she does a lot of cleaning, laundry, etc. because of this. My chore is to cook for the most part and we buy the majority of the groceries for the home. It may not please everyone, but that is what currently working for us, unless my mother is willing to sit back and let me do things my way without complaining.

  11. I always admired how you have such a busy household and manage to get so much done! I’m sure it’s due in part to having a set chore schedule. One person can’t do it all! Do you find that your kids complain about the chores, or is it fine since everyone has their own duties?

  12. You would think that it wouldn’t need to be done twice! In fact, the first one might seem like overkill since it was done just the night before, too. And yet . . . it always needs to be done! We added it to both times because somehow the children managed to bring stuff into the living room then. It’s also a good double check of any laundry that needs to be put away, since that is where we fold. Once in a while it is still clean and nothing needs to be put away–but usually there is something that either the first child missed, laundry, or something that has been brought in.

  13. Another job I had little’s do was base boards. With a damp cloth they just kind of dusted the base boards. It sure did help me out because of my arthritis. Now my teen boys do the base boards for me still. It is just a chore that is on their list every week. We have wood floors. I dust mop and Swiffer most everyday because we have dogs. One dog, our Basset hound should be bald. She is the only dog with white hair and I get a big pile of white hair every evening when I Swiffer the livingroom and kitchen.

  14. Oh, Rhonda, you are so right. I have several with various “issues” and there are some many times that it is easier to do it myself–I also have been to World War III many times. “But that is not how I do it” and other such comments have been said to me SO many times. Change is so hard. Plus, I have/have had a few with the oppositional defiance disorder. So, my chore list is very short for each child and I don’t change things up very often, because changes are so difficult around here. Over the years, the higher functioning ones have been assigned more chores, and the ones who struggle more, less. I’ve rarely had the blessing of the older ones helping the younger ones with chores, but I’ve appreciated it very much when I have had any kind of help.

    I do need to create some kind of chore chart/list/plan now that we are getting more settled in our house. The summer has been very free from chores, and we’ve slipped into a pattern of Rob and I doing most of it. So, for now, the big girls do the dishes after dinner, Patsy dumps the compost, takes out recycling, and J is in charge of the trash once a week. Lovana has been doing odd jobs and the big girls have collected Patsy from school a few times (we are too close for a bus, but still over 1/2 mile one way–a nice walk for them on sunny days). These are the main chores they did before, just adjusted for this house. I’ve had them do chores on Saturdays, a very old habit I used to do, that I’m trying to revive. Because they have not done the Saturday chores for so long, I will need to ease into it. I used to write the jobs on cards that I kept in a box from week to week, and just put out a pile for each person. I’ve also written lists on a white board in current years. Right now, I have no system, no charts, no white board, and no cards. It will all come in time.

  15. How do you handle children that throw tantrums/play or just refuses to participate in doing their chores? I’m referring to 4 yr olds. I’m having a hard time having my children follow the chores, even though they get weekly allowances for following and doing all their chores. Theres been times when we didnt give them any money because they didnt earn it. Any suggestion would help! Thank you

  16. Sandra, I can answer from our viewpoint. My husband and his 7 siblings were raised Amish. They left when he, the oldest boy, was 16 (well his brother Paul Levi is actually the oldest but as he is developmentally disabled my husband was and is always considered the oldest boy and the head of the family…their parents are deceased. Pauli is known as the little brother:)) He says there is a great expectation that everyone no matter how young contributes to the everyday life of the family. No one gets an allowance for this. As children are born and grow up a bit they see the parents working, they are added to work along side as able and then they become role models to the younger children as they come along. It is not unusual to see toddlers following along in the garden patch as mother or older sibling weeds, for example. They may be collecting the weeds or “in charge” of the bean bucket etc. If they can’t do it perfect, they are not criticized but encouraged.

    There is a book you may enjoy called MORE THAN HAPPY: THE JOY OF AMISH PARENTING by Serena Miller and Paul Stutzman. It is a very quick read and may give you some ideas. It is available in public libraries as it is written for the non-Amish population.

  17. When one of my brothers had 4 children between age of 2 and 4, a 2 yr old, 3 yr old and 4 yr old twins, he had a Saturday job that started at 10a (was a teacher Mon-Fri) . It was the only day of the week he and his wife could sleep later than 6a or so. They had a bottom drawer in the kitchen that held a cereal box, bowls, spoons and drink cups.
    When the children woke up early as they usually did they were to make themselves breakfast…the milk carton was on the lowest shelf in the door of the fridge…and then take it into the family room where they were allowed to (quietly) watch videos from a box my sister in law had just for this occasion. They did this for several years.

  18. My two year old also sets the table. She gets so excited! Placemats, cloth napkins, and spoons. It would be easier, faster, (and neater) to do it my self, but I want her to feel that she is an important part of keeping the house running! She also gets the mail and put it on the entry table.

  19. I love that. Kid clean is good enough. I think that’s the right idea, not to give them the message that their work (when completed to the best of their ability) is insufficient. I feel this way when my husband vacuums, too! Don’t want to discourage any helpful behaviors!!

  20. Super helpful post, Brandy! Thanks! I’m dying to know how mopping goes after every meal for your family. I have about 300 sq ft. of tile in the kitchen, which isn’t really that big to me, but it is the chore I dread the most. I mop with a sponge-type mop and bucket of soapy water. Then I rinse twice because I’m kind of paranoid about leaving a residue. It takes me about an hour which is way too long and takes too much effort for me to do it often enough-let alone three times a day! However, with 5 messy kids I really, really desire to keep the floors cleaner than they normally are. I’ve tried with no success to convince my husband to let me purchase a steam mop so I can mop quicker and more often, but he thinks that type of “mop” just pushes around dirt rather than cleans. Anyways, what’s your method for mopping? Thanks!

  21. We have all linoleum floors and years ago started using a Hoover floormate that washes and dries in one. We recently bought the rechargeable cordless which I like a lot.

  22. I love all your ideas. I have guardianship of 5 of my grandchildren. They are all siblings. I’m starting my 3rd year as their guardian along with my husband and we are in our 50’s and 60’s. They love to help when it is something they want to do. I have got to get a chore list for them. They were allowed to do whatever, whenever without thought. Now trying to teach them right from wrong, not to touch other peoples stuff, and to put stuff back from where they got it. I am starting to add structure to the things they are to do. I do not believe in allowance for chores but when the kids do something extra sometimes I will give them a little money, not every time cause I do not want them to always expect something. It is hard to know where to turn when you have raised your kids then several yrs later you get hit to raising children again. We are doing the best we can with what we have and your posts are inspiring and also a reminder of things I did when my children were young. Thank you for all the wonderful tips.

  23. Christine, your grandchildren are fortunate to have you and your husband who love them and care for them enough to set guidelines and rules. They will do better, and be happier, in life.

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