Chores are a great way to start teaching responsibility. When toddlers see Mommie and Daddie working around the house, they are often eager to help. They love to try to do the same things their parents are doing. Although it may take longer to get the chores done when trying to teach a toddler how to do them, it can help them learn to enjoy housework and develop good habits that will be an asset later on.
The most important thing to remember when selecting chores for toddlers is to keep it simple. Very young children do not have the cognitive or motor skills to take on complicated tasks. But there are some things they can do that, after some practice, will be helpful to you.
Chores for Toddlers
- Picking up toys – Getting your toddler to pick up after himself can be a great help, it can also be a chore in itself!. But it's usually too much to expect him to put everything in its exact place. A better approach would be to provide a laundry basket or large box for him to simply throw all of his stuff into. Then you can take it to his room and put it where it belongs. Always start out buy showing the toddler what to do, and then having him help out. Making it fun, or making a game out of it can help. When my oldest was a toddler our game was who could pick up the fast. He always won, and he always got a kick out of beating his Daddie.
- Helping our with the laundry – This is one of my favorites and my kids love it. All moms could use some extra help with the laundry, and young children are often happy to oblige. Toddlers can help sort dirty clothes, and you can even turn it into a learning experience. You could also enlist your toddler's help in loading and unloading the washer and dryer. As the toddler gets a little older, you can fold the clothes up for him or her and they can help put them away.
- Watering plants – Small children usually can't resist the opportunity to water plants. This is another task that could get messy, so make sure your plants aren't sitting on or near anything that could be easily damaged by water. It's also smart to make sure they don't fill the watering can over half full. This will help prevent spilling the water in transit.
- Feeding the pets – Kids are often honored to help take care of their pets. Toddlers are capable of helping to feed pets, but occasional messes should be expected. To minimize accidents, you could buy pet food in individual packets or cans for small cats and dogs. For watering purposes, toddlers can put the water into a small watering can and then pour it into the bowl.
- Cleaning the floors – It may seem like an adults-only task, but floor cleaning is something that kids often enjoy. The trick is to let them use tools that they can easily manage. Cordless floor sweepers are ideal for this purpose. There are also small, working vacuum cleaners and brooms available in the toy departments of most stores. While it might be too ambitious to expect a child to sweep all of the dirt into a neat pile, he can help get the dirt out of the corners while you go behind him and sweep it all together.
When your child is old enough to walk and is somewhat verbal, he can start helping with the housework. Getting your child to help with chores will help him develop a sense of responsibility. And that is something that you will be thankful for when he is older and can do more substantial housework.
Chores as kids grow older:
When our kids reach school age, we often expect them to help out around the house. Ideally they will have already been doing some small chores for a while. Starting chores young makes it much easier to get them to do more substantial housework as they become capable.
You might be surprised at the chores a school aged child can handle. If you can find tasks that they both enjoy and can do easily, it will make chore time much easier. Here are some good chores for young school aged kids:
- Dusting – This is a very simple task that kids usually enjoy. Give your child a duster or a sock to wear on her hand and let her have a blast. If you're worried about breakable items, move them all to a safe place before she begins.
- Setting and clearing the table – Kids are often eager to help at mealtime. Setting the table is a simple but important task that they can perform. You can make it easier by using placemats that have outlines of where the plate and utensils go. You might also want to consider getting plastic plates and cups to help avoid breakage. After the family eats, your child can help clear the table.
- Folding and putting away the laundry – The laundry can be quite a chore. Enlisting the help of the kids to get it folded and put away can be a huge help to a busy mom. It's usually unrealistic to expect a young school aged child to fold an entire load of laundry on her own, but she could fold her own clothes and put them up. She may not fold them as well as you or put them exactly where they belong, but there's no need to make a big issue out of it. The important thing is that she is trying.
- Pet care – Kids usually prefer playing with their furry friends to assisting in their care, but having your child help with pet care is a great way to build her sense of responsibility. You could start small, having your child give the pet food and water. Once that is mastered, she could clean cages or litter boxes, and perhaps help with grooming if the pet gentle and even-tempered enough.
- Help with the dishes – The dishes may go more slowly when you have a child helping, but things will get better once she has helped a few times and gotten the hang of it. If you have a dishwasher, your school aged child can help with the loading and unloading. If you wash by hand, she could rinse and dry the dishes. Storing them in low cabinets will allow your child to put them up herself as well.
School aged children can help around the house in many ways. Your child may be able to take on more complex tasks, or she may need some coaching on the simpler ones. Either way, making housework a part of your child's routine will make your life easier in the long run.