Toddlers are like sponges. Not only are we concerned with their mental capacity to count to 10, recite their alphabets and learn how to "draw within the lines," but it would also be nice for them to learn (and acquire) some hands-on skill for around the house. Parents and/or guardians do a lot to keep a home running, so when our little ones learn the practical skills involved in day-to-day chores, it's a total win-win!
Children love to learn. And, toddlers are incredibly capable of more than we know. When they see their parents and/or caretakers enjoying their tasks, children will likely pick the activity up faster and with more enthusiasm. To start early, we have listed 10 household chores that a toddler is sure to be able to assist you with; whether it's folding or doing the dishes. Simple enough for little hands to help and big enough to actually make a dent in the day's tasks, read ahead for some inspiration.
10 FOLDING LAUNDRY
Folding laundry is likely more than just a weekly event in your home if you have or take care of children. Along with this list of never-ending chores, laundry is one that is a constant in many households. A child's capacity to remember something visual and hands on is very impressive. Teach the child how to fold something simple like a pair of pants: where you're likely only doing a 2-fold. Have them practice with other pants.
If folding itself is too difficult (because every child learns at a different pace), organizing the laundry is a great (and helpful) start. Make a pile for one parent, another for the other, maybe another if they have a sibling or a pile for themselves. They'll be able to identify everyone's clothing articles better than you expect!
9 WASHING AND DRYING DISHES
A very fun (believe it or not) chore for young children is doing the dishes. Filling the sink with warm, soapy water along with dirty and dull dishes for them to scrub will have them grinning ear-to-ear. Ensure there are no sharp objects in the sink that they're about to tackle.
Demonstrate how to scrub then rinse and repeat. Children live off of repetition and structure, so having them clean the dishes in steps will make sure they won't miss a beat. Plus, it'll be enjoyable for them (and helpful to you).
8 PUTTING (SAFE) CUTLERY AWAY
After those clean dishes dry, allow the toddler to assist in putting the cutlery away. Whether you separate the child's cutlery from yours or not, having them participate in this organizational practice will have them feeling very proud and accomplished.
One example of how organizing can help in a child's development is strictly from taking away distraction. An article within The Military Wife and Mom explains how toddlers love and thrive in organized environments. By keeping items organized, even if it's as simple as assisting in putting back the cutlery, it helps in decision making in the long-term.
7 WATERING PLANTS
Another very rewarding chore to help with is watering the plants daily. As stated above, children love structure. Having a schedule is incredibly important for children, as well. They absolutely thrive when on schedules.
If it's as simple as having them help water each house plant every morning after (or before) breakfast, then let them have at it. Knowing that they're part of keeping a plant alive and helping it grow will mean more to them than you know. Plus, it helps you out a bit, too! We bet there will be mornings where they'll be reminding you that the living room fern needs a good watering.
6 CHANGING THE TOILET PAPER ROLL
Having your toddler help you with something as simple as changing the toilet paper roll helps them develop responsibility in a small, but crucial way.
Whether the child is potty-trained or not, they will likely notice if the toilet paper roll holder is empty. Children notice small details. By instilling in them the visual that if the TP roll is empty, it must be filled, will ingrain in their little, growing brains. Next time it's empty, don't be surprised if someone fills it before you do!
5 PREPARING MEALS & SNACKS
Whether it's assisting in an actual baking session or putting together snacks on a tray, having the child help prepare their meal is incredibly rewarding for both you and child.
From intention to creation, the child will see each step it takes to prepare a meal and/or snack. During the actual activity, the child may agree or disagree with what is being placed on the plate. The child may ask for something different, or, the child may even eat it all up because they did it themselves. Talk about an accomplishment!
4 SORTING GROCERIES
Toddlers love opening boxes and bags of newly purchased items. When you arrive home from groceries shopping, instead of putting the bags on the counter as you may usually do, place them on the floor. This way they're at toddler-level and easy for them to un-bag.
When they reveal each item, ask the child if it should be chilled in the fridge or stored in the cabinet. Have them organize each item into two different sections: one for fridge and one for cabinets. Once they're finished you may finish the task.
3 WINDOW CLEANING
If you have yet to discover the magic of vinegar and water, we will blow your mind with the simplest recipe for an all-purpose cleaner: half water and half vinegar solution. The perfect (and incredibly inexpensive) concoction to clean your windows with is this very mixture. Cheaper than the average window cleaner and safe enough to eat, water and vinegar will clean your windows so well the toddler will even be impressed!
Pour your mixture into a spray bottle and allow the child to go-to-town. Give them either paper towel, a reusable cloth or scrunched up newspaper to wipe the wet windows down. God forbid they drink any, the only ill-effect will be their sour face.
2 CLEANING TOYS
Whether you clean toys daily, weekly or monthly (or simply when we find the time), allowing the toddler to become involved in the process is always a good idea. This not only shows the toddler how to clean them, but why we do it so frequently.
Simply make a game out of it: tell the toddler that their toys must take their weekly bath to make sure they're clean for tomorrow's fun! If they were played by another sibling or friend, tell the toddler that other people carry different germs and it's important to wipe them off in order for them not to pass to themselves. Remember that vinegar and water mixture we taught you in the previous post? Well, use that exact same solution for the toy's bath!
1 SETTING THE TABLE
If the child can not yet reach the dining room table, this is an easy chore for them to do on their own, snack table.
If you cut out paper in the form of forks, knives, cups and plates for them to place the matching (real-life) items on top, this will be a great visual aid for the toddler. When they perfect the placement, they'll graduate into doing it for the entire family.