four year old sorting clothes in giant clothing pile looking for kids laundry
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How To Set Expectations For Kids So You Can Have An Orderly Home

Professional organizer & former teacher share tips for how to set expectations for all areas of your home so you can maintain an orderly and organized home.

Whenever we work with clients to help organize a space for their kids, we always talk about how to set expectations for kids in any space that we work on. A lot of parents share that they already have chores for the kids. But I recommend keeping expectations and chores separate.

Expectations are what is expected of the kids in that particular space. For example, an expectation of kids in their bedroom should be to make their bed every day. The expectation is what you want the room to look like daily or weekly.

A chore is light work that the children get paid for. For example, a chore can be washing the windows or raking up leaves.

how to set expectations for kids so you can have an orderly home

The reason I recommend separating the two is because, over time, a chore should feel more like a job, while an expectation is just a way of life.

For us, we write out expectations for each room of the house. The kids know what is expected of them. We also have chores that the kids may choose to do to earn money. These are also written out so they can see them. If we hear the infamous “I’m bored”, we can just direct them to the chore chart that has a bunch of household tasks that can be completed.

four year old sorting clothes in giant clothing pile looking for kids laundry

How To Set Expectations For Kids

In our house, we have specific expectations for each room in the house. I do this so the kids know what I mean when I say “clean up” or put your dishes away. To create your own expectations, start by making a list of what you want the kids to do independently (or semi-independently) in each room of the house. Then check your expectations with what your kids are capable of and then create a list based on that.


In the kids’ bedrooms, they have specific responsibilities to do every day and every week. They are expected to make their beds, get dressed, keep shelves tidy, put away clothing, put dirty clothing in laundry basket, and pick up their floor.

Some of these expectations are daily and others we do on the weekends. We have a chart in the kids’ rooms that helps them remember what they are expected to do every day. You can get yours below, along with tons of other kids organizing printables!


In the bathroom, the kids are expected to brush their teeth, put away their toothbrush and toothpaste, brush hair, shower or take a bath and pick up the shower or tub toys when they are done. They also need to wipe off the toilet seat if they pee on it. Because, let’s face it, that happens and they should learn to clean it up!

By setting these expectations for the kids, they know what they are suppose to do so they can be more independent with these type of tasks.


Now I am sure you are wondering what we expect the kids to do in the kitchen. Well, after each meal they are responsible for putting their dishes near the sink. They can make their own breakfast such as cereal or using the microwave to heat up food. They are suppose to get a snack and then put that snack box away.

A chore the kids have is to put away the dishes from the dishwasher. My daughter loves doing this and she earns money for putting away all the dishes. I have to help with some items, which is why it is a chore for our home.

As the kids get older, I will change the expectation for them. Once they can reach the sink, I will have them rinse their plates and put them in the dishwasher. But, for now, they must put it near the kitchen sink.

art supplies and bins in playroom to demonstrate minimal toys and how to set expectations for kids

Play Room

In the play room, the kids are expected to clean up after themselves. They are to put their toys away at the end of every night. Since we have minimal toys, it is easy for the kids to clean up after themselves.

For more on how to minimize the toys, check out these posts:

How To Minimize Kids’ Toys

Organizing And Decluttering Kids Toys Like A Pro

The Most Effective Ways To Organize Toys


In the basement, the kids are responsible for putting away their toys, just like in the play room. Since we keep specific type of toys in the basement, it helps for clean up time. The kids have sports toys, dress up costumes, and the dollhouse with dolls.

When we clean up, most of the time the kids have to up the cushions back on the couch or roll up blankets. These are expectations that I help with since some of the cushions are tricky to put back in the correct spot.


Our mudroom is directly off of the garage, so this is where the kids are to hang their backpacks, jackets, and put away shoes. They are also responsible for emptying their backpacks and putting any art work into their folders.


When we play outside, the kids love riding bikes and drawing with chalk on the driveway. So when we are done playing, the kids are expected to put their bikes away, hang up their helmets, and clean up any toy or sporting equipment they used. Since everything has a spot in the garage, they know where it all goes, making clean up easy.

My Favorite Products To Label

child putting away kids laundry in bin

How To Set Chores For Kids

Once the kids understand what is expected for each room in the house, we can talk about chores. The list of chores is every changing, so it can grow as the kids grow.

To create a list of chores, start with the expectations you have for the kids. Then give them a task that takes a little more effort and is more “work”. For example, one chore my kids have is to water the plants. This is a task that does take a little supervision but they are capable of completing it. They don’t have plants in their room, they are in the living room in our house, which is shared by everyone. So that chore is helping the family but still a type of work that is done around the house.

Another chore is taking out the garbage. The kids can do this chore with little adult supervision but it helps the entire family.

Some of our other chores are washing windows, feeding the dog, emptying the dishwasher, loading and unloading washer and dryer, bringing in groceries, putting away groceries, sweeping and vacuuming the floor.

Want more tips and tricks on how to set expectations for kids so you can have an orderly and organized home? Watch this video below where I break down all my expectations and chores for my kids.

how to set expectations for kids so you can have an orderly home

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The Organized Mama is your ultimate resource for all things organizing with families in mind. Our mission is to share practical tips, tricks, and tutorials everyone in the family can follow!