Chores for the Busy Toddler

“I help you.” Pepper Michelle just turned two and makesshe is BUSY. She wants to be involved and included in everything. She sees me at the sink and she goes running for a chair while saying “I help you! I help you!”

And while the temptation is to deny the request and do it on my own (which is always faster and done better) I try to let my kids help me as much as I can. Especially while they are young and wanting to help. Because, believe me, it isn’t long until they don’t want to help anymore.

So what chores can a toddler do? A lot! As long as you are supervising, a toddler can help with just about any chore you do around the house. Here are some things that my kids have been helping with since they were toddlers:

  1. Cleaning toilets. Just pour in a little cleaner and let them have at it. Usually Pep will do that while I clean the rest of the bathroom.
  2. Putting away silverware. You have to be careful, obviously. Depending on the age of your kid you might not want to hand them all the knives or maybe even forks. But Pepper will pull a chair up to stand on and sort all the silverware for me. This not only teaches responsibility and being a part of the family but also teaches some basic math skills. Win-win!
  3. Laundry. Don’t expect your laundry to look pinterest perfect or anything, but a one year old can totally fold laundry. Well…they can roll it up. They can take it from the washer to the dryer (if you have a front loader). They can empty it from the dryer to the basket. They can hand it to you while you fold (or let them attempt to fold it themselves). They can even put it away…be prepared to find some laundry in weird places, but still. All my kids help with laundry from the time they can walk and up.
  4. Wiping the table. Just spray for them (or use water if you are uncomfortable letting them touch any cleaners) and give them a paper towel. Even if it is just water it will still teach them how to do it.
  5. Making their own beds. Again…don’t expect anything pinterest worthy but let them do it themselves. For a while I will help them a little but eventually I let them do it completely on their own. Even if it doesn’t look that made by the time they are done let them be proud of the work they’ve done.
  6. Feed and water the dog. Or cat, or fish, or goat or whatever pet you may have. Teach them how to take care of someone else. Teach them to notice needs and fulfill them.
  7. Cooking and baking. This isn’t exactly a chore but it’s something that you should get your toddler involved in. Pouring, dumping, stirring, etc. Teach them the process, how to do each step and of course, to clean up afterwards.
  8. Taking out the trash. They will need a lot more help with this one but my kids have been doing this since they were one year old. Sometimes it means just letting them have their hands on it while you do all the actual work, but still, it teaches them how to help.
  9. Dishes. Like I said in the beginning, Pepper always comes running when she sees me at the sink. Jenn does, too. I will wash all the dishes and they will rinse them and put them in the drainer. Use caution, of course, and don’t let them handle the nice glasses and plates or the knives. But if your home is anything like mine you might have a ton of plastic kids plates and utensils. Those are perfect for the kids to rinse off.
  10. Clean up their own toys. Start them young. Trust me, it only gets harder to get them to pick up their own toys. If you make it a habit now it will be easier later! In the beginning it will mean you literally point to each individual toy, walk to the toy box, point to that, and cheer all along the way. But it won’t be long until they get the hang of it and can do it on their own. (Doesn’t hurt to keep cheering, though!)
  11. Clear their place at the table. When they are done eating teach them to take their plate and fork, scrape the plate if needed and then put it in the sink. If your toddler is too young to do it on their own let them have their hands on the plate and fork while you do it. I probably sound like a broken record but my kids do this even before they are two years old.
  12. Fill in the blank! You tell me what is a great chore for a toddler. I know many of you must have some “been there done that” advice for us young moms. Please share with us! Or maybe you don’t have any kids but you remember doing a chore when you were a kid that I don’t have on this list. Share with us!

 

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