The earlier your child learns how to do housework, the better – and not just because it takes items off your to-do list! Teach your kids to do chores now and it won’t be a battle to get them to clean later on in life. Not only that, but chores can also be great teaching tools – use them to reinforce the idea of choices and consequences, rewarding hard work, and taking stewardship over belongings. Toddler chores can teach a sense of accomplishment and pride and instill a strong work ethic that will take them far later in life. How young should you start? Well, here’s a list of 10 fun chores for TODDLERS!
Things to remember: Toddlers will need guidance and direction, but be sure to let them accomplish as much as they can on their own. This will help with establishing independence and self-confidence. Avoid allowing them to use harsh and potentially harmful cleaners and detergents. If you expect them to complete a chore on their own, make sure to keep anything they may need to accomplish the task within easy reach. Make cleaning fun by turning on music, using a chore chart, and cleaning together.
1. Pick up toys and books
The easiest way to enforce this is to have him/her pick up what they are playing with before getting something else out. You can also make this a game by playing a variation of “I Spy” – “Can you find the red car? Where does it go?” or “Can you pick up five red blocks?” Picking up toys and books is easier for kids when there are clear, established spots for them. You can find tons of great toy organization ideas in this post from Remodelaholic.
*DIY idea: Check out these chalkboard toy boxes! They're trendy and classy and match nearly all decor. Plus, you can change the “labels” easily, since you only need chalk!
2. Help with dirty laundry
Dirty clothes are lightweight and easy for small hands to manage. Make sure there is a distinct spot for dirty clothes – a hamper like this one is a great option for kids if you don’t have a laundry chute. Once the dirty clothes are in the right place, your toddler can also help sort clothes by color and put them in the washing machine, under close supervision.
3. Sort/fold clean laundry
Once the laundry is clean, toddlers can have fun matching socks by color and size. They can learn to fold small items that aren’t unwieldy, though it will take practice to master this skill!
4. Wipe up messes
Spills happen. It’s inevitable. Teach your kids to clean them right when they happen, so there will be less for everyone to take care of later. Make sure there are rags or paper towels within easy reach and if needed have them use water to dampen them – no chemical-laden cleaners.
While there may be some areas you’ll want your toddler to avoid (great grandma’s china on the buffet or your grandfather’s tchotchkes from “the Old World” perhaps) there are spots small hands can dust – window ledges, blinds, low shelves, their own dresser, baseboards… anything low and easy to reach, nothing too high or heavy. For added fun, let them use old socks over their hands, like puppets!
6. Put away groceries
This can be just as fun as sorting socks! They can help put like items together, carry lightweight items away where they belong, and take food storage items to their spots in the pantry or basement. Supervise to make sure they don’t carry more than they can easily handle and keep in mind they may need direction.
7. Set and clear the table
Keep unbreakable plates, bowls and cups at easy reach in a low cupboard so toddlers can find them and carry them to the table without help and without worry of shattering them. Use fun placemats, like these, that teach kids the proper way to lay the utensils. When mealtime is over, kids can carry dishes to the sink and help put things away in the fridge.
8. Wipe the table off
Toddlers can help clean a dirty table with a washcloth, rag or paper towel and water.
9. Make the bed
This is a skill that takes a lot of practice to properly master, but a toddler can surely begin to work on it! They can place their pillows and stuffed animals in their allotted places and pull sheets and blankets up. Explain and show them how to pull the linens up to “meet the pillows” – and most importantly don’t worry if there are lumps and bumps or if the sheets are askew. Practice makes perfect!
10. Help with pets
With guidance, a toddler can pour pet food into the dish or change the water. They will likely enjoy helping dogs take walks or “exercising” the cat or rabbit!
Kimberly Mueller is the “me” over at bugaboo, mini, mr & me, a blog that highlights her creative endeavors. She especially likes to share kid crafts, sewing attempts, recipes, upcycled projects, photography and free printable gift tags/cards. When she’s not enjoying being married to her best friend, chasing after the natives (AKA her three kids) and attempting to keep the house in one piece, you can find her with a glue gun in one hand and spray paint in the other. Aside from DIY pursuits, she also enjoys writing, reading, music, singing (mostly in the shower) and the color yellow. Kimberly recently published a craft book entitled Modern Mod Podge. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest,Bloglovin’ and Instagram. Email her at: bugabooblog(at)yahoo.com