5 Kitchen Tasks Your Children Should be Helping With

If you asked me what the ONE room in the home is that seems to always be a mess, I'll easily answer: the kitchen.  It is where we cook, and where so much of our monthly budget ends up.  We have to keep lots of food and dishes on hand to keep our at-home family of 8 fed and cared for.  It's the busiest room in the house!

So, you can imagine that it's near impossible for me to handle it all on my own.  I really try to rely more on the help I can get from the kids.  Here are the five essential tasks that I believe all kids should be helping with around the home, based on age:

1). Dishes.  This is never fully completed at my house.  Whether it's the big roasting pans, slow cooker dishes, or all the forks we use in a day, there is always a dish to wash.  I find that it's easiest to team up my older kids to do several loads at the end of the day together, rather than do a small load after each meal.  They can tackle the project head on and really work as a team.  I recommend kids 8 and up participate in dish washing, even if they are just drying and putting away silver and non-breakable glasses.

2). Wiping counters and sweeping floors.  Give kids a good, non-toxic countertop spray to use, along with a hot, wet dishrag.  They can wipe along the easy places, and ask for help with moving stuff to get under appliances and counter clutter.  It's OK to wipe onto the floor ONLY if a sweep is coming next.  Otherwise, teach them to wipe into their hands or onto a paper plate to be tossed away.  I think kids that are old enough to reach the counter easily are good candidates for this task.

3). Organizing.  My 8-year-old LOVES organizing the cupboards.  Just look at what he did when left with a step stool and about 20 minutes of time.  For him, this is the ultimate brain puzzle.  Not only does my kitchen look put together when he's done, but he's using spacial skills in the most helpful of ways! This is the best task for kids who aren't yet able to handle hot water, sharp utensils or get up high places.  Have them organize a bottom cupboard or drawer if they are smaller.

4). Cooking.  Yes, all kids should learn to cook.  Boys AND girls need skills to be adults some day, and preparing a healthy, delicious meal will make them quite the catch for their future families.  We start by walking them step-by-step through an easy meal (spaghetti, tacos, or macaroni and cheese), then move on to reading recipe books for dishes that are even new to us.  After one or two times making a meal together, they should be able to make the meal on their own with limited supervision.  Kids 10 and up should be able to prepare at least one or two meals, using a stove, on their own with an adult in the house.  You can choose to use recipes that require no cutting for children who have questionable knife skills.

5). Meal planning.  Kids should be giving input into what meals a family should have.  I don't mean that they need to be begging for only their favorite meals.  Something along the lines of "this is what the store has on sale this week. Can you think of some meals we can make using hamburger and avocados?" will work fine.  Let them help you flip through magazines for appropriate recipes and put together meals plans that incorporate a variety of healthy foods that are within the budget.  Try to include 2-3 meals that whey will be cooking, as well.  Write all the meals you'll have this week on a calendar or meal planning document and put it on the fridge!

What ways do you wish your kids helped out more?  Share how your kids are useful in the kitchen!


  1. I wish my daughter would organize as well as your son! My daughter's brain doesn't organize the same way mine does :)
    My kids help carry in and put away groceries, which can be a big help sometimes.

  2. Groceries are a big help! Yes, that's what we have our kids do, too. And, for the record, MY brain doesn't even work like my son's does. We all have our gifts, but organizing isn't one of mine :)

  3. Thanks for the reminder that I need to have my daughter start helping around the house. She's getting older and I think I could get her a little broom and have her help out a little! :) Even if she makes a little bit more of a mess!

    1. My toddler LOVES the clean up game. We have to be careful, however, because he is always putting things in the trash. My husband's toothbrush went missing this morning!


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