As parents, one of our jobs is to teach our children how to be responsible. We should also teach them basic life skills and how to grow up to be a good citizen of society.
All of these things somewhat run together and getting your toddlers helping around the house is a great way to start instilling these principles.
I know that you might think that getting toddlers to do chores is more trouble than it’s worth and I know that feeling but trust me, it’s not!
By having your toddler help out around the house now you are setting them up for success in the future. You want to start them off young so that they get used to helping and being an active part of the household.
If you wait till you child is older then you might have more pushback with your child not wanting to help.
From my experience, toddlers love to help and don’t care what it is they are helping with. They want to imitate what we are doing so we should use that to our advantage.
Every time I do laundry, my daughter wants to help put the clothes in the wash or try to fold.
Sometimes her “helping” me is super frustrating but I always try to remind myself that one day she’s going to learn how to really help with this chore and it’ll be a big help and time saver for me.
Age-appropriate chores for toddlers
When choosing chores for your toddler you want to make sure that you are choosing things that are age-appropriate.
You don’t want your child to get frustrated and not want to help. You want them to enjoy their task and to have fun while doing it.
1. Feeding animals
This is my daughter’s favorite chore. She is responsible for helping feed our cat and our fish.
My husband helps her but she knows that every time it’s time to feed the animals that she has to help.
There have been a few times where she’s playing and doesn’t want to stop but we just tell her “it’s your cat and you need to take care of him” or “he wants his dinner just like you want your dinner, let’s go give him his dinner so he can be happy.”
You want to talk to them in language that they understand but also don’t talk to them like a baby. Talk to your child about their chores.
You can say things like “we all live in the house and we all need to help keep it clean, thank you for doing your part.” This makes your child feel appreciated and wanted.
2. Wipe the table
This is a great one for teaching your child to be responsible.
We all know that toddlers are messy eaters and that can make for a lot of cleanup. Teaching your child to clean up after themselves can help them try not to make as big of a mess when they eat.
This might not work for every child and that’s fine because that’s not the point of having the child wipe the table.
The point is to teach that when we make a mess we clean it up and we don’t leave it for someone else to clean up.
Tip for moms: a toddler isn’t going to do a very good job at cleaning the table and you are probably going to have to go behind them and clean up…that’s fine.
I know it’s hard for us moms to let go of control sometimes but this is one of those instances where it does our child good to give them some control, even if we have to go behind them and “fix” it.
3. Throw trash away
After any meal or snack, we have our daughter throw her trash away and put her plates and such in the sink.
This seems like such a small thing but it saves me a little time and teaches her to clean up after herself.
She loves doing it and I don’t know why but kids love putting things in the trash can. Use that to your advantage.
4. Pick up toys
Clean up, Clean up, everybody do your share! Nothing like the Barney clean up song to get a kid motivated to clean up their toys.
This is one of the hardest things to get my daughter to do for some reason. She likes to pull out all the toys but doesn’t like to put any of them away so this is something we are constantly working on.
Having a clear home for all the toys makes it easier for kids to know how to put things away.
Also, I’ve learned that even though I had all her drawers and bins organized by toy type, it’s just not going to stay that way.
I’ve had to learn to be happy with her putting the toys away at all and realize that she isn’t’ going to organize everything like I had it.
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5. Water flowers
If you have flowers or a vegetable garden this is a great chore for your little one to help out with.
They will also be more excited when they start to see the flowers grow or start to see vegetables pop up on the plants.
It teaches that taking care of something can produce great rewards. I know, I know that’s a little deep for a toddler but it’s still teaching them that it’s important to take care of things.
Toddlers obviously can’t fold laundry but they can help gather up the dirty laundry, put it in the washer, push the buttons, transfer it to the dryer and push more buttons.
My daughter also likes taking it out of the dryer and handing me things to fold.
We’ve also started having her pick out all her clothes from the pile that needs to be folded and she’ll put hers in a pile so they are separated. She loves searching the clothes and saying “this is mine” or “this is daddy’s.”
Get your toddler a small handheld dustpan and broom and let them help clean up messes.
We keep one of these by my daughter’s sensory bins. When she is done playing she helps sweep up the mess she made and of course she loves dumping it in the trash can.
Once more this teaches responsibility and that we clean up after ourselves.
Raising responsible children is important. We should strive to help our children be equipped for adulthood and it may seem crazy but that starts from the time they are little.
What chores does your toddler love to do?