I’ll admit: I need to remind myself to include toddler chores into our routine.
I’m a fan of kids cleaning up after themselves. But sometimes I forget that my toddler would benefits from helping me wash the dishes. Or worse, I just do it myself for time’s sake. Wiping the dining table takes me 15 seconds, but including a toddler can take 15 minutes.
And what mom has 15 minutes to spare?
Still, I do my best to make sure that my two-year-old continues to do his chores. After all, a parent’s number one job is to raise future adults. And most adults will need to learn how to do chores and look after themselves. Helping a child water the plants can take time and feel awkward. But doing so ingrains in their head early habits of self-sufficiency and pride.
Chores are also another way for kids to feel proud of their accomplishments. They offer kids a chance to complete a task on their own. And they can even be just as fun as any other play activity.
Chores prepare kids for adulthood and give them reason to feel proud. They also give kids the feeling of being part of a community and contributing to its well-being. If mom and dad are the only ones doing chores, kids may lose out on a chance to feel like they can take part in family duties.
I’ve listed below a few of chores my son and other young children can do.
Below are 10 easy toddler chores
1. Water the plants
Get a child-size watering can (like this one). Your toddler can water indoor plants around the house.
2. Cook in the kitchen
Ask your child to scoop any meal prep (like chopped vegetables) into a bowl. He can stir cookie batter or tip measuring spoons and cups.
Cooking with a toddler can get messy, so wear an apron and expect messes. And repeat to yourself: “This is a learning experience… This is a learning experience…”
3. Set the table
Have your toddler put his bib, napkin and utensils on the table. He may not be able to handle your breakable dishes, but he can help set up his plastic plate, bowl or cup.
I read a great tip from How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin (affiliate link). Using colored painter’s tape, make a square on the floor and have your child sweep the dirt into that square. He’s not just sweeping to sweep but is trying to move the dirt to one area. The tape helps him identify where on the floor their spot is.
5. Get the mail
Your child go through the mail box as you hand him the ones that you plan to toss or recycle. Then hand him the envelopes you plan to keep to carry into the house.
6. Put toys away
What better way to transition to bedtime than to encourage putting toys away? At this age, putting toys back into their tubs and boxes can be a game in itself, so take advantage!
7. Dust with a rag
Recently my husband had our son clean every table in the house as part of their “game.” My husband would spray the table and my toddler would quickly wipe with a rag.
8. Place clothes in the hamper and help with laundry
After your child changes out of his clothes, have him put them into the hamper. He’ll learn where dirty clothes go. Then, when you do laundry, hand him wet clothes to put into the dryer.
9. Change bed sheets
Your toddler will enjoy removing blankets, pillows and toys from his bed. He can even help remove sheets and pillowcases. Then, have him put the dirty sheets into the hamper.
10. Wash the dishes
My toddler’s height now enables him to stand on a little step and help wash and dry his dishes. He also places utensils in the dishwasher.
I made these printable chore lists that are yours free:
Make it fun!
I don’t know the last time spraying and dusting was so much fun. Make a game out of your chores so your child actually enjoys cleaning. When you clean up toys, count the pieces we put in a box. Or try to shoot them into the bucket. Or collect the green ones first, then the red next, and so forth.
Let your child do the chores his own way.
Sure, you could probably do a better job of dusting, and your toddler may have even missed a spot here and there. But the point is to participate and have a positive attitude towards cleaning. Follow up with an extra wipe, but allow your child to clean his way (this applies to husbands too).
Praise as he goes along.
Give more descriptive praise than evaluative. What’s the difference? Descriptive is sayinh what he’s doing with no judgment. “Wow, you’re putting the toys away all by yourself!” Evaluative is placing an opinion—even positive ones—on the task. “Wow, you’re doing a good job putting the toys away all by yourself!”
With less emphasis on evaluative praise, your child will feel pride in doing a job well done. Regardless of whether anyone was there to praise them or not.
Doing their chores for them is much faster and better done. But chores lead to a positive experience with cleanliness, responsibility, and pride at a job well done.
Get more tips:
- What to Do when Your Kids Refuse to Do Chores
- How to Get Your Kids to Clean Up After Themselves
- Teach Your Child the Value of a Job Well Done
- What to Do When Your Child Says No to Everything
- Time Management Tips for Your Evenings with the Kids
What chores do your kids participate in around the house? Do they consider chores an enjoyable activity?