Chores Your Toddler Can Do
One of the many tasks we take on as a parent is to teach our children the essential life skills they will need as they grow. Giving your toddler the opportunity to help with household chores is a great way to foster independence and teach them responsibility.
Not only that, but giving them tasks to help with gives them have a sense that they are a vital part of the family, that they’ve contributed something to our “home team.” And that sense of belonging is key to helping them grow up to feel secure.
Keep in mind that the main objective here is for your toddler to “help” with these chores, not complete the task with utter perfection. So if a few pants end up in the shirt drawer while sorting laundry, the effort is what matters. Praise them and thank them for their help!
With that, here are the 5 chores my daughter is enjoying most right now. Keep in mind, the list of things they can help with goes far beyond this, but if you are just starting out, this may be a good place to start.
1. Unloading the dishwasher and sorting silverware
This is my daughter’s absolute favorite task. To the point where she gets REALLY upset if I open up the dishwasher to put in a dirty dish and she thinks it’s time to unload. We get this one accomplished by either just opening up the silverware drawer (that she’s juuuuust tall enough to reach) and let her toss all the silverware in there and I’ll sort it out later.
If you have an easily removable tray for sorting your silverware, you can take the tray out, put it on the floor, and have them sort out forks, knives, and spoons. My little one at 19 months is just starting to understand the “sorting” different and alike things, but she loves trying!
2. Wiping the table, floors, their high chair, baseboards, etc.
My little one is definitely used to seeing my on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor with a rag. (Oh, how I loathe the cheap linoleum in our apartment!) So it wasn’t surprising when she grabbed my rag I had left and started cleaning up after spilling her own sippy cup on the floor.
I typically try to grab a rag and start doing our countertops and upper cupboards and she goes to town on anything she can reach. I mostly just let her use hot water, and sometimes spray some Mrs. Meyer’s disinfectant on very sticky spots.
3. Watering houseplants or filling up pet bowls with food & water
We don’t have any pets yet, but the task is still essentially the same.
This gives your toddler an awesome sense of responsibility as they see the plants grow over time, while you explain that plants can only grow if they’re provided with water.
This is also a toddler favorite because pouring anything is just one of their favorite developmental skills they’re into right now.
4. Putting away books/toys
It’s so easy to do this one for them, as we can do it about 50 times faster than they can, but it’s important to start this routine now, rather than having to institute it later.
Play with one toy, put it away.
Read one book, put it back on the shelf.
Dump all the Legos out? Put them all back in the container when you’re done.
While my toddler is far from doing this all on her own, I do try to have her put at least half of what she takes out throughout the day.
I also keep this easier on her and myself by limiting the amount of things she has access to. Instead of letting her have access to the container of 100 Duplo blocks, I took half, bagged them up, and stuck them in her closet.
Now when it’s time to “clean up,” it’s not completely unreasonable to have her do half, and they don’t take up my ENTIRE living room .
5. Bringing clothes’ baskets to laundry room or back to their room
After the clothes are done in the dryer, she has such fun dragging the laundry baskets back to either her room or our room. Something about dragging a basket that’s almost as big as her is SUPER entertaining. Toddlers are the funniest!
From there, I let her help sort tops and bottoms into her dresser drawers and let her bring folded towels our bathroom cupboard.
She also looooves to put her cloth diapers away in their respective bins. Check out my reflections one year into cloth diapering and how I chose what we use.
A bonus toddler chore:
Fetching something for Mama & Dada
Call me lazy if you want. I’ll call me pregnant and just.so.done. leaving the couch.
If I need a pillow for sitting on the floor with her, I ask her to go grab one off our bed.
If I forget to grab my water bottle off the table, I ask her to climb up on a dining chair and bring it to me.
The first couple of times I asked her for these things, I definitely got a quizzical look from her. Almost like, you’re asking me?Now, she loves grabbing things for me, especially when they happen to be inside of a drawer or she has to hunt around the house to find them, as “hide and seek” is one her new favorite games.
After doing this for a few weeks, I noticed that not only was I much more refreshed and ready for her to wake up from her naps, but that she LOVED to help.
I’m sure a lot of it for her is imitation. For the most part, we are still doing the tasks together, and at this point, she’s loves to watch me do just about anything and try to replicate it.
Be sure to comment below and let us know what chores your little one loves helping with!
My name is Alison, and before becoming “Mama,” to my two under two, I taught high school English. I love coffee, reading, and pretty much anything that brings me outdoors. I write about living a life unbalanced because I know not one person who is balancing it all, like we’re told we ought to be. Articles range from everything you need to do once that pregnancy stick shows a positive sign to ideas to help your toddler engage in independent play, so that you can take a minute in the morning and drink your coffee, while it’s still hot!