Appropriate Chores for a Preschooler

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As I was standing outside in the cold, trying to convince my dog to stop sniffing and just do her business already, I had this thought: I cannot wait until my daughter can do this instead of me. Right now, she’s just too little to be trusted with a leash and a dog that outweighs her. And dog poop. She cannot be trusted with dog poop.  That got me thinking though, what ARE appropriate chores for a preschooler?

I recently had this conversation with a dear friend of mine. I feel I must preface this by saying this friend of mine is extraordinary and a rockstar mother. She also has the best outlook on things. She doesn’t hover over her children and I do, so I feel like I always learn so much from her. Ying and yang, you know?

As she rattled off a plethora of tasks her daughters can carry out, I realized that I could really be doing so much more on the topic of appropriate chores for a preschooler.

I still do a lot of things for my child that she could be doing for herself. I put socks on for her and I take her empty plate to the sink even though I KNOW she is capable of doing those things herself and does them at daycare. I also know I just do these things because it is easier and I can control the mess and the amount of time dedicated to each task. I need to let go of the reigns though, both for myself and for her growth and development.

Get this: I asked my daughter to go to the bathroom herself one day when I had my hands full and suddenly there was a bathroom emergency. Her response? I can’t! (See? I hover.)

I talked her through it and peeked in not two-minutes later to a kid on the toilet with a big smile on her face. She did it and she even washed her hands! And I am not ashamed to say we were both pretty proud in that moment. She goes potty all the time at daycare by herself, why did I feel I needed to still help her?

Moms, I have turned the corner! I have seen the light!

Of course, then my wheels were turning and I came up with a short list of chores for a preschooler that she can do, either by herself or with some assistance:

  • Take cup and plate to the sink after a meal
  • Wipe down the table
  • Help put away groceries
  • Help move clean clothes from washer to the dryer
  • Make own bed
  • Put on own coat, socks, and shoes in the morning
  • Take off shoes and coat and put in the appropriate places
  • Pick up toys before bed
  • Feed the dog
  • Pair up clean socks and help fold towels
  • Water plants (using a pre-measured amount of water, of course)
  • Put dirty clothes in the laundry basket
  • Help change the bed sheets
  • Help shovel

Sure, it will take her a lot longer to do these things herself than if I just did them. I also know I will probably have mismatched socks and the dog will probably get more food than she really needs. The important thing is, by giving her responsibility, I am teaching her more than “Mom will do it” and in return, making my life a wee bit easier.

Your list of chores for a preschooler may look different than mine, so I am curious, what is on your list?

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While originally from the Milwaukee area, Carly resides with her husband, daughter and family dog in Appleton. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh. Carly fell in love with the Fox Valley area while attending college and somehow convinced her southern-born husband it's pretty cool, too. She currently works full-time in marketing for a non-profit and will soon take on a dream part-time position that not only will advance her career but give her time to pursue other interests and focus on her family. In her free time, Carly likes to travel, read and write and can almost always be found outdoors, weather permitting.

1 COMMENT

  1. “Sure, it will take her a lot longer to do these things herself than if I just did them.” The understatement of the year! ? (Looking/moving away helps with the urge to ‘fix’ what they are doing in the moment…go back and fix after they are in bed if it’s that crazy?) Both my girls (1.5 and 4.5) assist with all the chores around the house. They are obviously modified greatly for the 1 year old (aka sometimes she ‘thinks’ she’s helping but in reality she has a similar, safer task nearby haha) The bathrooming hit home. So well said!

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