Let’s reframe how we view chores for toddlers.
One thing we all know is that toddlers are natural helpers. And lucky us! Chores for toddlers can be as simple as saying yes when they offer to help. (we don’t even need a chore chart!)
Now I know.
Watching your four-year-old crack eggs or seeing milk spill from a cup to the counter is a difficult task to have the patience for.
As a busy mom of three, I assure you that I see firsthand how my efficiency moves everyone along with a little faster. There is less clean-up after the clean-up. (well, most of the time because I make mistakes too)
But I have also seen how saying “I’ve got it” more often than “sure!” has prevented the older boys from becoming better helpers.
Let’s slow down to develop strong helping habits in the early years.
Two, three, and four-year-olds can become a teammate around the home, and I wrote this post with Devon from Transforming Toddlerhood to help us all better understand how to raise a helper.
What is the right chore for your toddler?
First, let’s think about what your two and three-year-olds enjoy.
- Add clothes to the dryer
- Put napkins on the table
- Give food or water to a pet
- Wipe surfaces with a cloth or sponge
- Crack eggs
- Put toys away
- Mix ingredients
- Wash vegetables
- Help unload groceries
- Put away folded clothes
- Put shoes on a rack
- Use a hand broom and dustpan
- Water plants
- Arrange flowers
- Pour ingredients into a bowl
- Bring dishes to the sink
- Wash away toothpaste after brushing
Toddlers need to see us, ADULTS, doing chores
If we do everything when our children are napping or at school, how will they know what gets done around the house?
I encourage you to clean up DURING the times your children are home and playing around you.
I like to say, “I am not available right now, but you are welcome to play or help me unload the dishes.”
This gives children a choice to participate in two critical daily tasks. – Becoming a helper and playing at home.
RELATED: Headed out of town? Have your child pack their suitcase.
How to make a chore chart for kids?
I don’t. Sure, I DO believe in a quick visual checklist to help with more extensive clean-ups, such as “First, clean up the LEGOS and markers, then you can watch a show.”
But for daily tasks raising a helper, the biggest tip is saying YES to offer help.
Base tasks on daily routines and give one more step.
RELATED: Washing outdoor toys DOUBLES as a fun toddler chore!
Keep help predictable with daily routines.
Asking a child to complete a task never on their radar may cause more frustration than worth. You may consider adding it to the routine the week before to gain familiarity.
Make a simple checklist to support independence.
Offer two options to help, such as would you like to put the clothes in the dryer or put your socks in the drawer?
Making it fun helps everyone enjoy our days together more. We can engage in power struggles or hold our most important no’s to a minimum. Offering choices or putting on fun music as we complete daily tasks helps everyone.
Related: Chores help when parent overwhelms begins to creep in. Here are my nine tips when I begin to feel overloaded.
When should my toddler be doing chores?
Remember, the short answer is as soon as your toddler or preschooler shows interest.
The benefits of inviting toddlers to help around the home are:
- Daily help and chores help meet a child’s need to feel capable
- Gives a role in the family
- Practices gross motor skills
- Engages large motor muscles
- Creates connection
- Encourages quality family time
- Supports the development of concentration
- Increases attention span
- Teaches responsibility and self-reliance
- Helps your toddler develop a sense of empowerment
Think about what your child enjoys, and say yes when they ask to help!
Add clothes to the dryer
Put napkins on the table
Give food or water to a pet
Wipe surfaces with a cloth or sponge
Put toys away
Help unload groceries
Put away folded clothes
Put shoes on a rack
Use a hand broom and dustpan
Pour ingredients into a bowl
Bring dishes to the sink
Wash away toothpaste after brushing