July 11, 2012 3:29 pm
Can I let you in on a little secret? Toddlers LOVE chores. I know it’s hard to fathom. When we hear the word chores, endless piles of dishes and laundry spring to mind. Miraculously, that is not what toddlers think of. They think it’s fun!
It took me a few babies to discover this awesome fact. I wish I’d know earlier, which is why I’m sharing with you today. However, before reading further, there are a couple of disclaimers.
First, doing chores with toddlers takes approximately ten times longer than if you did them yourself. However, there is a lot of learning going on here and in time (read: years) it will pay off. When your kindergartner unloads the dishwasher by herself, you’ll be glad you started early.
Second, toddlers won’t do the chores the way you would. In fact, not only will it take more time, you may have to re-do some or all of the task to get it correct. Again, the focus here is teaching the concept, not worrying about perfect execution. There’s a lot to learn in the process and sharing chore time with your toddler will open up lots of teachable moments. So, if you can deal with these two drawbacks, READ ON!
In my opinion, the perfect time to introduce chores to your little one is after they are a confident walker. They love exploring their world, so why not share a few more details with them. They are learning to be independent. Teaching a chore is a great way for them to use that independence in a positive way. Plus, the look of pride on their face when they do a job well is priceless!
Most of my favorite toddler chores revolve around items already part of their life. They are safe to touch and familiar, therefore a great place to start. Here are some of my favorite toddler chores:
- Picking up toys – Most toddlers can’t resist the game of picking up a block or other toy and dropping it into the bin. This is a great time to talk about colors and shapes as well.
- Cloth diaper laundry – While they probably can’t stuff a pocket diaper, they can participate and “help” by matching like items. Challenge your little one to pull the diapers and inserts out of the basket and stack up similar colors or styles. Toddlers just love matching games!
- Setting the table or high chair – I like to keep toddler dinnerware in low cabinets where it’s safe to play with. Instead of play, ask your little one to walk the plate or bowl to the table. This is another great time to teach the differences in shapes and colors. As they learn, you can ask for a specific color cup, bowl, fork or spoon.
Do you have a toddler that likes to help with chores? How old were they when they started? What are some of their favorite chores?
My 3 year old has been washing dishes for almost a year. He pushes over a chair and after I’m done washing the knives and breakables, he does all the plastic dishes, sippy cups, etc. He actually does a pretty good job. We also bought a small rechargeable vacuum for quick jobs, and he refers to it as his vacuum! This he still needs to perfect, but he loves to run it over the floors and carpets until it runs out of power!
My 2 year old LOVES chores as well. He:
– puts dishes in the sink
– unloads the dishwasher
– puts laundry in the dryer
– puts stuff in the trash
He has a blast!
This is great chores for my son. I want to incorporate chores at an early age so he hopefully learns to be a helpful family member.
My son did all of this and then reached a stubborn phase at the age of 3, and now refuses point blank to do anything, no matter how much fun I make it. At one stage he loved setting the table, but now refuses to do it.
Oops don’t forget to say please and thank you as well!
Mine is 3.5 now, but she can fold washcloths, spread out our picnic blanket, put stuff in the trash, help us recycle, take her plate to the dishwasher/counter, get herself drinks from the bathroom sink (score!), match socks, sometimes fold her own clothes, take stuff to her room (or any room we ask), get the baby a diaper or wipes, put the dirty (wet only) in the pail, open doors, carry things for us, find things we’ve lost.. the list goes on and on.. making it a game really helps. Also, randomly rewarding for things is a great way to encourage overall helpfulness (say for unloading the dryer I’ll give her an m&m, but have her do 3 more things before giving her another one)… high fives also make great rewards…
My 18 month old loves cloth diaper laundry, emptying the bottom rack of the dishwasher (then shuts the door and refuses to let me do the top rack lol), and handing me hangers for regular laundry – and has even attempted without success to put the shirt on the hanger.
My 2 year old clears the table after meals and puts dishes in the sink (because of this we started using plastic plates to avoid broken dishes). He also puts trash in the bin and picks up dirty clothes /towels into the laundry chute. He’s been doing this since about 18 months.
My 18-month -old loves to help empty the dishwasher, sweep the floor, and put her trash into the garbage can 🙂