20 Chores for Three Year Olds

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Do you feel that you are forever nagging and repeating yourself when it comes to getting jobs done around the house? This was how I was feeling a while back, so I used the “teacher side” of my brain to come up with a solution. My solution? Implementing a chore system at home, which helped to remove me (and my nagging) from the situation. This is a great way to teach your children about responsibility and helping out around the house. Here is a list of age-appropriate chores that you could implement for your three-year old.

#1 Eat their meals

This probably sounds like more of a requirement than a “chore” per se, however when you put the responsibility on to your child in the form of a chore, then they take ownership of that. Having them eat their meals as part of their daily expectations is a great way to take out the constant battle of trying to get them to finish their meals.

Now, I’m not saying that your child has to stuff themselves full in order to have officially “completed” their chore, as we certainly don’t want them ignoring their body’s hunger/satiated cues. But, we do want them to eat their meals until they’re full, as part of their daily chores. This video does a great job of explaining how to incorporate daily tasks like this into your child’s chore chart.

#2 Clear their dishes

I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest pet peeves is finding dirty dishes on the kitchen table that have been left there to dry and get all sticky. Even worse when the naughty cat decides to jump up onto the table to get the last bit of milk in the cereal bowl!

I noticed a big difference when I added this chore as part of my kids’ responsibilities. It was just a little thing, but having them clear their dishes from the table and rinse them in the sink made a big difference in our household. My older child is now able to load his dishes into the dishwasher after rinsing them, and my littlest one is learning how to do the same. No more dirty, sticky dishes left on the table (sorry, cat)!

#3 Get dressed and put pyjamas away

This is another great task to add to the list of chores for your 3-year old, as it’s something that needs to be done each day anyway (ok, perhaps with the exception of lazy Saturday mornings!). Making this a daily expectation as part of their chore routine will make those early school/work mornings a lot easier, as your child will know what is expected of them, and will hopefully do it with less fuss because it’s now part of their “big kid” list of chores.

I found that the best way to add in these daily routines as part of their chores, was to have a wipeable/reusable chore chart posted somewhere upstairs that they could refer to as they’re getting ready in the mornings. They could simply tick off when they were finished, and continue on with their day.

#4 Brush their teeth

This is another daily task that can sometimes be a battle for parents, as children are often reluctant to brush their teeth. It always amazes me how shocked my kids seem when I remind them that they need to brush their teeth. “We have to do that again? We just did it last night!” Despite my eloquent explanations of the importance of brushing our teeth, their surprise and dismay seems to be a daily occurrence.

Putting tooth brushing as a chore that they are responsible for removes parents from the equation again, and puts the onus on to your child. This is a great chore for your 3-year old to do because it reinforces the importance of good oral hygiene, and this is something that 3-year olds are getting pretty good at doing independently.

#5 Make their bed

Now, I’m not a great example for this chore, because I often forget to make my own bed. I used to make my bed all the time as a child, but it’s one thing that’s been lost along the way for me. However, my kids love crawling into a nice, freshly-made bed at the end of the day, so they really enjoy making their beds in the mornings.

This wasn’t really something I needed to add to their list of chores, because for the most part they tended to do it anyway. However, if you would like your 3-year old to learn how to make their bed as part of their chores, then just take some time to show them how it’s done, and then add it into their list of responsibilities. The blankets may not be perfectly tucked in and wrinkle-free, but they will learn the basics, and they will improve with practice.

laundry basket

#6 Putting dirty clothes in the laundry hamper

My 5-year old is still working on this chore, and it is truly becoming a sore spot for me. This girl, bless her heart, changes her outfits multiple times a day (I have no idea why), and every piece of clothing she changes out of ends up on her bedroom floor. She also wears a different pair of pyjamas every single night (again, no idea why) and all of those different pairs also end up on her floor. Can you picture her bedroom floor? Mass clothing destruction everywhere!

So, this is a chore that I definitely wish I had introduced sooner, and it is one that we are continuing to work on. I brought a laundry hamper into her room, so there were no excuses about leaving them on the floor. We’ve also discussed the concept of wearing an outfit more than once, especially if it’s still clean, but that’s a whole other story. Getting your 3-year old to put their dirty clothes into the laundry hamper rather than leaving them on their floor is a great chore to introduce early on – take my advice on that!

#7 Cleaning up their toys

Every child needs to learn how to do this! If nothing else, it saves us poor parents from stepping on anymore agonizing pieces of Lego with our bare feet! This chore takes a bit of setting up, mainly because your child will need some designated spaces to place their toys when they’re cleaning up.

Set up a toy bin in their bedroom and another one in the living room or common areas where they tend to play. That way, when they’re cleaning up, it’s fairly simple for them to pick up their toys and pop them into the toy bins. As they get older, you could have them place their toys in more specific locations, but for 3-year olds, a toy bin works really well.

#8 Feeding the pets

When we moved across the country, we bought our kids 2 kittens to help with the adjustment and being so far from family and friends. These cats are amazing, and we all love them dearly (except when they climb on the table to get to the dirty dishes!). Since the cats were given to the kids, we also put them in charge of feeding them and freshening their water each day.

Most days, our kids do this chore without being asked, although once in a while they need a reminder. But, this is a great chore to introduce to your 3-year old, as it not only teaches them responsibility, but it also teaches them about caring for others, which is a great lesson in itself. They may need some help with doing this at first, and expect a little kibble to be spilled on the floor, but it is something they will get better at over time.

#9 Helping to set the table

I remember being a kid and learning to tell which was left and right from setting the dinner table each evening. I learned that the knife and spoon go on the right, while the fork goes on the left. I was just little, but my mom always had me helping out with jobs around the house, and I learned a lot from that.

Many of these chores that you start with your 3-year old will start out as learning opportunities; your child will need to be shown and taught how you would like the table set. But, once you’ve shown them and worked with them, they’ll be able to do this chore easily. Bonus is that they’re with you in the kitchen as you’re preparing dinner, and it’s a great chatting and bonding time. I still remember those evenings in the kitchen with my mom, and your little one will as well.

#10 Helping with laundry

My 5-year old clothing fashionista has been helping to sort and fold laundry since she was 2, because she’s always shown an interest in it. Look for the jobs that your children enjoy, and encourage them to learn more about them so that they can help out too.

Matching and folding socks is a great chore for your 3-year old, as they’re not only helping, but it also teaches them visual discrimination and develops their matching skills. Folding the socks in pairs is also a perfect activity for developing your child’s fine motor skills. So, you get some help around the house, and your child gets to develop some skills. It’s a win-win!

#11 Carry groceries from the car

Kids love to be helpful, especially little kids; they love to do grown up stuff and feel that they are contributing. When we get groceries, I always ask my kids to help carry the groceries in from the car. I give them the lighter bags, especially my youngest, but they always enjoy helping with carrying them all inside.

Sometimes they also help to unpack the groceries, and you can decide if this is something you want your child to help with. My kids enjoy putting things away in the cupboards they can reach, and often ask about the different things we bought.

kid dishwashing

#12 Put away clean utensils

Another chore that is suitable for a 3-year old is putting away the clean utensils, and it offers yet another excellent sorting activity for your child to practice visual discrimination and matching. It is best if you put away any sharp utensils beforehand, but forks, spoons, and butter knives would be fine for your little one to put away.

Whether you’re emptying the dishwasher or putting away hand washed dishes, your child could easily start learning how to do this at 3-years old. Start with the clean utensils, and then as they learn and grow, they can help with more things like plates and cups.

#13 Hang up coat and put shoes where they belong

This one makes everyone’s life easier! No more tripping over shoes and coats when you walk in the door! Teach your child at an early age to hang their coat and put their shoes where they belong whenever they come home.

That being said, make sure that there is an accessible location for your child to do this. Set up a shoe rack or mat by the door where they can put their shoes, and hang some hooks at their level for them to hang their coat when they come in. 

#14 Clean up messes

This isn’t necessarily a regular or daily chore that is set in stone, but rather an expectation or responsibility that your child can begin to do by 3-years old. Teach them that if they make a mess, they are to clean it up. 

Spilled their milk? Show them how to grab a cloth and wipe it up. Had a Lego explosion while playing? That’s ok. Show them how to make cleaning fun by singing a song as they pick up the pieces.

Teaching your child about being responsible for their messes is important, and it will make life so much easier as they get older.

#15 Wipe down the table and chairs after meals

Now, the chairs may not need wiping after every meal, however if you have two kids like I do, you’ll know that most times the littlest one wants to do what the older sibling is doing. So, have your older child wipe the table after meals, and the youngest child can wipe the chairs.

When you’re first teaching your child how to do this task, model it for them and show them how you wipe the table, being extra thorough so they see how you want it done. Teach them how to scoop the crumbs and such into their hands to throw out. Most kids find this task kind of fun, so your little one will probably enjoy learning this one!

#16 Rake or pick up leaves

I don’t know a kid around who doesn’t enjoy this task on some level. Perhaps not after raking a whole yard, but little ones usually quite enjoy this chore. Depending on your child’s age and ability, you could have them help with the actual raking of leaves, or just have them help with picking up the leaves to put in the compost.

Many hardware stores sell children’s rakes, and these are great because they’re the perfect size for little hands, so your child will be able to use it much easier than an adult one. My kids each have their own rake, and when fall hits, they enjoy getting them out to rake up the leaves. Of course, the fact that they get to jump in the pile of leaves afterward is likely most of the appeal!

kid watering flowers in garden

#17 Help weed the garden

This is a great skill to teach your child early on, and it opens the door to more gardening chores later on as they get older. We have a large vegetable garden outside and a greenhouse as well, so we need all the help we can get when it comes to maintaining it all.

Our kids help with the weeding in both the garden and the greenhouse, and it’s a huge help. They don’t always enjoy it, and I do get the occasional grumble, but they also understand the importance of it because they see us harvesting the vegetables and benefiting from their efforts when we eat the fruits of our labor.

#18 Dust furniture

There is an easy way to get your 3-year old helping with the dusting – let them wear a pair of old socks on their hands and use that to dust with! Not only do they find it pretty funny to wear socks on their hands, it’s a much easier way for them to dust furniture because they can simply wipe their hands along the tops and collect the dust that way.

Put your little one in charge of wiping down the tables in the living room and dusting the bookshelves – things that are stationary and easy for them to reach.

#19 Clean windows

This is one of my kids’ favorite chores to do! When they first started doing this task, however, they made a whole lot of mess, and it made twice as much work for me. But, that’s ok! Because, over time, they learned how they didn’t have to totally drench the windows in order to clean them. They learned how to wipe up the dribbles so there weren’t smears on the windows.

My kids love this task, and I love it too, because with two kids, two cats, and a dog, there are many prints left on the windows. So, getting my two to pitch in and scrub off those prints is a great help, and it’s a bonus that they enjoy it.

#20 Wash the car

You wouldn’t necessarily leave your 3-year old to wash your car all on their own, however this is a fun chore to do together that your child would likely enjoy immensely! Let them spray the car before you start to wash. Give them a little sponge and let them scrub the tires clean.

When the car is all soapy, show them how to spray off all the soap, they’ll love that part! Don’t be surprised if the car wash turns into a bit of a water fight, but that’s half the fun anyway!

Final Thoughts

Giving your 3-year old some chores around the house is an excellent way to teach them responsibility, and they feel so proud of their accomplishments afterward. It also helps you out around the house, because over time, they really get proficient with their tasks, and it makes less work for you. 

Which chores do you think you will introduce to your 3-year old first? Let us know how you decide to set up your chores at home, and feel free to share this list with other parents who are looking to do the same!

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!