20 Chores for 5-Year Olds

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Chores provide so much benefit to the family household; not only are you getting some much-needed help around the house, but your children are also learning the importance of pitching in and helping out. Everyone wants to feel needed in life, and that they are making a contribution, even children. 

By having your child do regular chores around the house, you are helping them to develop their independence and resilience, and you are letting them know that they matter and that their help is important. Here are some great chores that you can have your 5-year old do around the house.

#1 Empty Wastebaskets

When our kids were little, I noticed a trend in their rooms – little bits of paper, broken crayons, and other pieces of junk or garbage just ended up on the floor. So, in order to try to stay on top of that, I got each kid their own wastebasket to keep in their bedrooms. What a difference that made! 

A great chore for your 5-year old to do is to empty those little wastebaskets. They could also empty the garbage in the bathrooms as well, depending on how careful they are and how comfortable you are with that. Teach them how to empty them carefully, being mindful not to drop the garbage on the floor. This will take some modeling and practice, but it’s definitely a chore that they could manage.

#2 Bring in the mail

When we moved to our new home, we went from having our mail delivered to one of those group mailbox places, where we had to stop and get our mail on the drive home, to having our own mailbox at the end of a rather long driveway. As such, getting the mail now takes a bit more time walking down the driveway, but the kids love it! They quite enjoy going for their little stroll down the lane to get the mail, so this has become a regular chore for them.

Depending on what your mail situation is, this is a chore that your 5-year old might be able to manage. If it doesn’t work for them to collect the mail, perhaps have them be in charge of bringing in the daily newspaper if you get that delivered.

#3 Water flowers

You may not be overly inclined to have your 5-year old help with watering your flowers, because they can sometimes be a bit rough with watering – or perhaps that’s only my kid! When we started having our kids help with watering the garden, I needed to take time to show them what setting to have the hose nozzle on, where to water, and for how long on each plant.

This took a bit of teaching, but they really enjoy having this responsibility because they love seeing the plants growing and blossoming, and feeling that they are helping with that. While I’m busy working in the garden, they take on the task of watering everything, which also helps me out tremendously as well.

kid watering plants

#4 Fix their own bowl of cereal

My kids are now 5- and 8-years old, so they are at the age where they get up and play quietly on their own, and I don’t need to jump out of bed quite as quickly anymore.

They are also capable of fixing their own bowl of cereal, and they love being able to do this themselves. The way that we made sure that they could do this task independently was to set up the kitchen in a way where they could reach what they needed. They have a cupboard below the counter that is for all of their bowls, cups, and plates. Cereal is also kept in a cupboard that’s within reach for them. They love being able to grab their own bowl of cereal in the mornings!

#5 Use hand-held vacuum to pick up crumbs

Do you have a child in the house that tends to drop more food than they eat? Then you understand what I mean when I say that my daughter is an incredibly messy eater. Luckily, she’s now at the age where she is able to be responsible for tidying up after herself.

We purchased a little hand-held vacuum for just that chore, and she loves grabbing it to clean up around the table and her chair after meals if she notices a mess there. It’s easy for her to use, and a lot less cumbersome than a larger vacuum. Let your child be responsible for vacuuming around the table after meals, they’ll love it!

#6 Sort laundry

Sorting laundry is a great activity to get your children to do, because it helps to develop early math skills like visual discrimination and matching. I like this chore because it also gets the kids involved with laundry, which is something I want them to learn how to do on their own eventually.

Teach your child how to sort the piles into whites, lights, and darks (or however you choose to sort your laundry), and do it with them for the first few times as they get the hang of it. Then, each week when it’s laundry time, this is something that your child could help do.

#7 Keep their bedroom tidy

This is a chore that we began when our children were 3-years old and 6-years old, and it has expanded as they have gotten older. At first, it was simply to pick up their dirty clothes and place them in the laundry hamper.

Now, as they’re older, they’re also expected to tidy up their toys, make their beds, put their dirty clothes away, and keep things generally clean and tidy. There are some great tips and tutorials out there that can help you to get started with chores in your home. This video provides excellent ideas and a template that you can use to set your kids up for daily chores.

#8 Help make and pack their lunch

I only started this chore during the past school year, when my kids were 5- and 8-years old. In hindsight, I wish I had started it sooner, because they love doing it, and I love not having to do it! My 5-year old was more than capable of making her lunch, making me wish I’d started it when my eldest was 5.

Nonetheless, they love it and I love it. Take the time to go through the steps of making lunch, and what things you require the lunch to have in it – one piece of fruit or veggies, some protein, etc. Right now, I still organize the main part of their lunch, and they help with washing/preparing the fruit or veg, and packing their snacks. Eventually they’ll do all their lunch themselves.

#9 Set the table

I love this chore for so many reasons. When I was little, this was always one of my jobs, and I love my memories of chatting with my mom while she prepared dinner and I set the dinner table. I also learned my left and right from setting the table, which was a bonus!

Now that I’m a parent, I enjoy having this time with my own kids when we’re preparing dinner. Sometimes they both help, sometimes it’s just one or the other, but I like having their help with it. It took some time for them to get used to where everything goes on the table, but now they set it like pros, folded napkins and everything (sometimes anyway!). 

#10 Wash plastic dishes in the sink

We live in a very rural area, and in the summertime when we need to limit water usage because the well often runs low. We hand wash our dishes to conserve water, and I usually get the kids to help with this. They love this job, and rarely complain when having to do it. Something about water keeps it fun!

Let your child be in charge of washing their own dishes like plastic cups, sippy cups, plates, etc. Give them a fun sponge or handled brush, and let them wash away. Show them how to rinse the dishes and place them the correct way to dry. 

#11 Make easy snacks

This is another chore where setting up the kitchen ahead of time really paid off. We made the main snack cupboard somewhere the kids could reach easily, so they could find what they needed when they wanted a snack. I also try to prepare most of the fruit we buy, washing and slicing it up, leaving it in containers in the fridge. This way, my kids are more inclined to grab that piece of fruit rather than something junky.

Set up your kitchen in a way that allows your child to independently make an easy snack for themselves. Some crackers with peanut butter and a slice of watermelon, a snack bar and some grapes, etc. Have the things they’d likely eat for snacks within reach and at their level for easy access.

#12 Peel and chop carrots and potatoes

Most kids love to help cook in the kitchen! Depending on your comfort level and your child’s age and readiness, you could have them help to peel and chop simple vegetables like carrots and potatoes.

Show them how to carefully hold the peeler and the vegetable, and teach them how to hold the vegetable safely while holding and using the knife with the other hand. This will need to be carefully taught, but it is certainly something your child could learn how to do.

#13 Wipe the bathroom sink

After wiping the dried toothpaste gobs out of our bathroom sink yet again, I decided my kids really needed to learn how to wipe their own gobs of toothpaste down the drain. So, I put them in charge of wiping the bathroom sink as part of their weekly chores.

I didn’t want them breathing in any toxic chemicals by using store-bought cleaners, so I just made up a simple solution of water, vinegar, and a few drops of tea tree oil. There are some great homemade cleaner recipe tutorials that you can find in this video.

#14 Pull weeds 

Now, this particular chore memory does not bring back the same feeling of nostalgia as setting the table did. I did not enjoy weeding the garden when I was a kid. But, I had to do it as part of helping out around the house. So, I completely understand the grumbles I hear from my kids when I say it’s garden weeding time, but I also don’t listen to them either. 

This is definitely a chore that your 5-year old is capable of helping out with, and it’s great for them to learn about the garden, how plants grow, and how we can care for all types of nature. We have a large vegetable garden outside as well as a greenhouse, so there’s always lots of weeding to be done!

#15 Sweep kitchen floor

Most kids love to play with brooms and dustpans, and there are even toys out there that replicate cleaning tools. So, this chore could be one that’s quite enjoyable, and it’s one that is helpful because if your house is anything like mine, the kitchen floor seems to have a layer of crumbs on it all the time.

Teach your child how to hold the broom (especially if they are using an adult-sized one, as it can be a bit awkward for them) and to sweep gently so dust and crumbs don’t go flying everywhere. Show them how to hold the dustpan to collect the dirt, although they may need a bit of help with this at first. If you have more than one child, they could work together completing this part of the tasks. But, this could become part of your dinner routine, and the kitchen floor gets swept after meals.

#16 Dust furniture

Depending on how careful your 5-year old is, you can have them dust just the tabletops, or you can have them dust all furniture, including difficult areas where there are knick-knacks and small pieces. Again, it all depends on your comfort level and your child’s ability to be careful.

I love both my kids tremendously, but there is no way I would entrust my daughter with dusting intricate areas with delicate stuff. She’s just not careful enough, whereas my son is very careful and thorough, so he’s fine to do those sorts of things. Whatever you decide, teach your child how to carefully remove ornaments and breakables, dust them, dust the shelf, and place things back where they go.

#17 Fold and put away laundry

We’re still working on this one around our house, and the kids are slowly learning how to fold more difficult pieces of laundry. They’ve got the towels and socks mastered, and now they’re learning how to fold shirts and pants.

They’ve been putting away their own laundry for years now though, so even if I’m still doing some of the folding, they’re in charge of putting it all away in their rooms. This is another step toward that gradual release of responsibility, and them doing all of their laundry themselves when they’re a bit older. 

#18 Empty dishwasher with help

At 5 and 8, my kids have been emptying the dishwasher for a while now, with various amounts of help from me. At this stage, they need very little assistance, and work together as a team quite well (most of the time). My son helps my daughter by putting away the items that are out of her reach, and she helps by putting away the cutlery, which he hates doing.

Show your children where the different dishes go and how you would like them to be put away. Help them in the beginning, as this is a fairly big job that requires some help and guidance at first. Once they get the hang of it though, it’s certainly a big help in the kitchen!

#19 Organize the coats and shoes

This chore idea came about one day when my son took a look at our doorway, saw the pile of discarded shoes, coats, and bags, and took it upon himself to tidy it all up for me. (Proud Momma moment right there!)

Entryways in homes often get cluttered with all sorts of things like shoes, coats, toys, and whatever else comes through the door. Putting your kids in charge of tidying it up and putting everything away is a big help. Make it easy for them to do this task by setting it up in a way that they can reach everything. Hang hooks within reach for coats to be hung on, place rubber trays by the door where they can put all the shoes, and set up cubbies or shelves to hold other bits and bobs like hats, mitts, etc.

#20 Help feed younger siblings

Now, this job must be done carefully and with supervision, however it can be a fun chore for your 5-year old to help out with, and it will make them feel so grown up being allowed to do so! If you have a young toddler who is eating solid foods, you could put your 5-year old in charge of monitoring them while they eat and helping them to reach the food items they need.

If shown how to do it correctly, your child could even help feed a baby their bottle or baby cereal. Not only will your older child feel immense pride helping out with their younger sibling, but your baby will enjoy some quality time with their amazing older sibling! 

Final Thoughts

I hope this list gives you some ideas of what chores would be suitable for your 5-year old to do around the house. It not only gives you some extra help around the house, but it teaches your child about responsibility, and it gives them a sense of accomplishment and feeling like a contributing member of the family. Let us know what chores you decide to try with your 5-year old, and feel free to share this list with others!

Sarah Poirier is an elementary school teacher, freelance writer, and busy mom who is seeking a simpler lifestyle away from the everyday "rat race". Having recently completed a cross-country move, she now lives on her rural oceanfront paradise with her husband and two beautiful, energetic children. As a writer, she is passionate about finding ways to live a healthier and more holistic lifestyle, and she loves sharing helpful tips and tricks she's learned along the way on this parenting adventure!