One thing I have noticed is how much my toddler loves to “help me” with household chores. At first, that help was shall we say, frustrating at times, when say the dustpan she was holding tipped over on the way to the trash can or the neatly folded towels were found mercilessly stuffed and unfolded in the towel closet. I never lost it during those frustrating times because she was only trying to help but I did decide that a toddler with that level of willingness would benefit from having set chores of her own.
So here are five toddler-friendly chores that have worked for my own daughter:
1. Water the Plants. This one is a no brainer for toddler. Water plus toddler equals sheer joy. My husband walks my daughter around the house and has her water the plants.
2. Juice Boxes. Now that she is tall and strong enough to open the fridge, she is to put her juice boxes away. Of course, I still have to open the package for her, but she happily puts her juice boxes in their special tray and afterwards, my earth-conscious toddler attempts to crush the box before recycling it.
3. The Snack Bag. We all know the value of a snack bag when traveling with toddlers. If their mouths are full, the possibilities for quieter drive times are endless. Her snacks are stored at eye level in the pantry and the fridge and she is responsible for filling her snack bag.
4. Laundry. The only towels she puts away are her own. She is also responsible for putting her washcloths, socks, underwear, and play clothes in her bathroom and clothes drawers. For items that need to be hung, she puts them on the hanger (with some help) and I wait at the closet to hang them for her.
5. Set the table for dinner. This one she decided on her own after watching me. One night she asked for the plates and forks to set the table and while I was surprised and afraid of broken dishes, I handed the three plates and forks to her one at a time. To our additional surprise, she then asked for cups, pushed her chair to the fridge, and proceeded to fill them with ice and water.
You will notice these chores are more than the usual “put your toys away” kind of duties because I believe children should learn as early as possible that their duties revolve around more than their toys. I also think the chores above teach them to make choices, contribute to the household, and learn self esteem through accomplishment in the process. The sooner children are taught to contribute the better and assigning them chores early on is one of the best ways to accomplish this and help them begin their long journey towards becoming a responsible member of society.