It is almost ALWAYS easier to do chores for your toddler, but by training kids early, you are giving them ownership and setting yourself up for success later. (I mean, who doesn’t love child labor? Kidding!)
As you know, I spend a lot of time practicing the Montessori philosophy, and teaching kids independence and self-reliance is essential to the Montessori method. By the time kids are four years old, they can do most chores independently (within their physical and mental capabilities).
So, if you want your preschooler to start earning his/her keep, start training them young! Making chores fun is crucial to getting toddlers to want to help!
Room by Room Chores for Toddlers
Chores in the Laundry:
- Make a game of matching socks and talk about colors and materials as you do it.
- Folding small washcloths and towels can also be fun for a toddler. Teach organizational skills and give your toddler a bin in which to put the clean, folded pieces.
- My daughter also loves to pick her clothes out of the pile. I’m sure you’ve all heard your toddler scream “MINE” on occasion – they love the idea of discovering ownership of items.
- Finally, aren’t all toddlers incessant button-pushers? Teach them to turn on and push start on the washer and dryer.
Chores in the Kitchen:
- A cup of water and a sponge can entertain a water-loving toddler for a long time.
- A spray bottle filled with natural materials is great for cleaning counters (and not worrying about your toddler ingesting it).
- Believe it or not, sweeping can be fun for toddlers with suitable materials. My little ones enjoy using their child-sized broom set.
- If you are daring, give them a shot at pulling items out of the dishwasher for you. They can save your back a little strain by handing you items from the lower drawer.
- While your toddler is not ready for cooking, they may be prepared to learn to cut (with a butter knife, of course). My daughter loves to cut (with scissors and butter knives) soft items like noodles, green beans, asparagus, cooked sweet potato rings, hot dogs, apples, pears, etc.
- Teach kids to set the table properly with a placemat for guidance.
Chores in the playroom and bedroom:
- Make sure every toy has a home, and teach your toddler where to put the toys. Labeling with pictures can help kids quickly identify where toys and books go. Once that is done, try making games of picking up. Race your toddler to see how many toys they can pick up in a minute or who can pick up more quickly.
- If you are okay with messy drawers, teach your toddler how they are organized and help him/her put their laundry away.
- For larger toddlers, operating the vacuum can be quite fun. We have a wireless vacuum that my toddler can barely operate but loves almost as much as I do.
Other Chores for Toddlers:
- Grocery shopping: carrying small grocery items.
- Gardening: Pulling weeds, digging holes to plant seeds, and watering.
- Pet care: filling the food and water bowl (and probably dumping it)
Make sure you introduce and teach your toddler chores in a calm and unhurried environment. Enjoy the time you are spending together and pat yourself on the back for teaching him/her the skills to be more independent and responsible.