Toddler-Appropriate Chores

Toddler Chores

My toddler twins just love to “help” with household chores. Since they are not even 2 yet, allowing them to assist me usually makes the tasks take longer than if I did them myself. But the pride I see in their eyes after they’ve been “big helpers” is priceless, and I’d like to think I’m encouraging good habits by allowing and encouraging them to help around the house.

If you’ve also got a little one who’s eager to help, here are five chores that are appropriate for toddlers:

  1. Emptying the dishwasher — After I’ve removed the knives and other dangerous objects, I allow my sons to help me empty the clean utensils and nonbreakable items from the dishwasher. They’ll present them to me one by one so that I can put them away. I’ve even designated a lower drawer in the kitchen as the spot for smaller plastic food containers, so the boys can put those away themselves.
  2. Loading and unloading the washer and dryer — My little guys will stand next to me as I empty the washing machine, eager to help. So, I’ll hand them the wet items one by one, and they’ll take turns placing them into the dryer. Once the clothes are dry, the boys also love to remove them from the dryer and toss them into the laundry basket to be folded.
  3. Picking up toys — We’ve got separate bins for the various types of toys my boys have. Their Little People figures go in one bin, Mega Bloks go in a second, Mr. Potato Head parts go in a third, etc. At the end of every play session and before bed, the twins love to help sort their toys into the appropriate bins. It’s almost like a game for them, and the house gets clean in the process!
  4. Sorting laundry — If you’ve got an older toddler, you can show him or her how you separate white, light, and dark clothing into separate piles before you wash it. Then, put your little one in charge of that task. You may need to explain in the beginning that brown shirts go with the darker clothing or that baby blue is considered a lighter color, but your toddler will eventually get the hang of it. Since my boys are still young, I let them help with simpler clothes-sorting tasks. When I sit down to fold clothing, I’ll ask them to put all the socks into one pile, or to separate their shirts from Mommy’s shirts. They love to do it!
  5. Helping with cooking or baking — Right now my sons are too little to be of any real help in the kitchen. Still, it makes them feel important when they stand on their Kids Kitchen Helper Safety Tower and assist with tiny tasks. So if I am cooking or baking something and I need to mix a bunch of things together, I’ll measure out the ingredients first and let them take turns dumping them into the mixing bowl. Then I’ll give them each a turn to mix the ingredients with a big spoon before I finish the job. Once the food is ready, they feel so proud that they helped make it, and they’re more likely to eat it!

As you can see, it’s never too early to start letting kids help with chores. Doing so teaches them responsibility, builds their confidence, and helps them develop cognitive skills. Completing tasks together is also a great way for you to bond with your children, and it makes the chores more fun for you!

As your toddler gets older, you can also start using a chore chart and give him or her a sticker or mark each time he or she completes a chore. You can then give your child a a small prize or reward each time he or she fills the chart or gets a certain number of stickers or marks. For kids who can’t read, the chores should be illustrated so they can easily see which ones they’ve completed. You can make a simple chore chart yourself or you can buy one, such as the highly-rated Melissa & Doug Magnetic Responsibility Chart.

Does your toddler do any chores that we didn’t mention? Tell us about them!

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Jennifer Marino Walters is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in All You, Fit Pregnancy, Parenting, and several other magazines and websites. She’s the mom of adorable twin boys and the wife of a U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel. Though she and her family recently moved from the mountains of Colorado to the beaches of Southern California, Jennifer—a New York City native—is a city girl at heart. She writes about her adventures raising twins while navigating the military lifestyle on her blog, www.doubledutytwins.com

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