Raising Boys That Help At Home- What Works For Us


In the olden days, people used to have big families because they needed help to run the farm or the family business. And while we may have five kids, five boys in fact, those reasons don't really apply to us. We have a big family, but only because we love kids and all of the fun and memories and love that comes with lots of siblings and kiddos and eventually grand kids.

 One thing I don't love though is the messes and the clutter that a big families creates. There are so many more dishes and laundry piles and smears and piles. Especially right now when all of our kids are under 10. So while our boys may not be out working the fields, I do still need them to help me keep our house and yard and surroundings clean and cared for. I've had some questions about what chores and jobs I have our boys do so today I'm sharing what works for us. We aren't super rigid or consistent or strict, but all of the boys are willing helpers and they do a good job.

Our boys are 8, 7, 5, 2 and 2 months. This is quite an age range and obviously they all have different ability levels. Some are great at cleaning up after themselves, others are great at making everyone else clean up after them!

When the two oldest boys were a little younger I created a chart for them like you see below. They each had a list of things to do in the morning and the evening and for Kesler who couldn't read yet (he was five) I drew some simple illustrations. We hung these in their room and in clear sleeves and they used a dry erase marker to check things off daily.

I don't have something drawn up like this now, but they do still have similar requirements. And Knox has started to be included doing jobs too. I think I've found that between 4 and 5 is a good time to start requiring help although you can certainly ask for it earlier.

Right now during the week everyday before school the boys (mostly the two oldest right now) are required to make their beds, take care of their PJ's and clean up the floor in their room. They also usually empty half of the dishwasher. When they get home they know that aside from putting away their backpacks and shoes and such, they also have 3-4 jobs. They often want time on the computer or the iPad and so before they get any time they have to do the things I need help with. Every day it's different so I will assign things based on what is left to do that day. Below are lists of ideas that I might pull a job from.

Easton & Kesler (7-9 year range) 
Empty dishwasher
Vaccum upstairs
Vaccum stairs
Pick up the living room or basement or upstairs landing
Pick up the backyard
Put away clean clothes
Mop bathrooms with the Swiffer
Mop the main floor after it’s been vacuumed
Dishwasher or dishes in the dish drainer
Clear the table and counters
Empty the van of “stuff”- garbage, toys clothes
Bring in groceries from the car
Bring the trash and recycle bins up from the curb
Take trash out

Knox (4-6 year range)
Pick up Baker’s room
Pick up his own room
Put away his clean clothes pile
Put away Baker's clothes pile
Pick up living room
Empty silverware
Clean the floor of the shower while he is in there
Vacuum the hard wood floor
Wipe doorknobs with disinfectant wipes
Spray air freshener

On Saturdays the boys get a longer list. I will usually write out something like you see below and they work to check it off. When they finish sometimes we'll go get doughnuts or do something else to celebrate. I try to make sure there are super  easy and obvious items on there like eat breakfast and get dressed as well as harder things. Once their list is done they have free time or can talk to me about electronics.

Other things to note:

-I usually require them to get some kind of exercise before they get electronic time too. If they can go outside and do the trampoline or bikes or run a lap around the block I have them do that. If they have practice that evening that counts for their exercise.
-We don’t own any video game systems. The only electronic options they have are my computer (with my help) and my iPad. Games allowed on my computer are all on Lego.com, Nickjunior.com, Disneyjunior.com or typing lessons. On my iPad I have the Nick Jr and Disney Jr and a Lego app.
-Our school district also checks out iPads to kids Kindergarten-2nd grade. And 3rd and above get a chrome book. The boys have apps on their iPads from school that allow them to play games while doing math or some other learning.
-Aside from the boys helping out, I also have house cleaners that come every two weeks. The cleaners clean the main level and the two bathrooms upstairs that the boys use. I pay for the cleaners to clean my room and bathroom and main areas, but the boys' rooms are their own responsibilities. The boys also clean their bathrooms, but our house cleaners are my checks that the bathrooms get really clean consistently. You know boys and bathrooms! :)

I'm hopeful that if our boys learn to do chores at home now that it will help them in the future. These are life skills that will help them learn to work, learn responsibility, and enable them to be equal partners in their future homes someday.


  1. Such helpful tips!! Do you give them any sort of allowance? I want my kids doing chores because they are part of the family and we work together but I also want them learning how to be responsible with money. Thoughts?

    1. I don't usually pay them for their jobs. Sometimes in the past I've had additional jobs they can choose to do to earn money like vacuum the van or something big and extra. They make bracelets and sell them in our store so they have other ways of making money than just jobs.

  2. Super helpful! My 4.5-year old son almost never wants to help out and always says cleaning up (the playroom, his toys, etc.) is too hard, so I’ve learned to make a game of it (pick up everything that is yellow!). The smaller chunks seem to help. I want him to do more, though. I like the dry erase with pics idea. My 19-month old daughter loves to help and picks up after both herself and her brother!

  3. Hi Kilee, you are doing awesome job! I have three boys and we also have chores for them, I agree that these life skills are Very Important. One question, so do the boys have a set time to watch tv? Love, Farah

    1. Hi! They don't have a set time right now. With a new baby TV time has gotten to be a lot more than I would like, but I know its part of the ebb and flow of life. The TV also helps with Knox and Baker sometimes so the only electronics that I use as rewards are the ipad or computer.

  4. My little man is 2 right now, but this is so helpful to think about for the future!! Thanks for posting!! Your little guys are so cute!!


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