Oh toddlers…….How I love them. They’re still halfway squishy, smell-good, want-to-eat-them-up babies, and halfway big, independent kids. If there’s one thing I know about toddlers, it’s that they are dying to express their independence. Everything is “Do it MYSELF!” or “ME do it!” or “NO!!!” Most toddlers I know want to do things for themselves and get incredibly frustrated when we pesky adults butt in. The best way I know how to channel their built-in drive is to start assigning chores for toddlers and their little hands but ever-so-big attitudes.
It can be tricky finding activities that are actually helpful for your little one–let’s say 12 to 36 months–to do, that’s where I come in. I’ve compiled a list of over 30 chores that are toddler safe and can truly be helpful to you!
Chores for Toddlers
- “Go get me…” Really, this could be the entire list. “Go-get me” chores are, as the name implies, chores where you send your toddler to go get something for you. This is a great way to expand their vocabulary and practice manners. “Please go get me my burgundy boots. No, those boots are brown, the other ones. Thank you! You’re such a big helper!”
- Pushing wet laundry into dryer
- Unloading dryer into a laundry basket
- Pulling weeds: be really specific about what’s a weed vs. what’s a flower! And stay close by.
- Emptying small trash cans
- Putting away laundry: matched socks and towels work well.
- Setting table: consider arranging your kitchen with toddler-eye-level cabinets stocked with everyday dishes make it possible for toddlers to put away and get out their own dishes. This becomes a 4-5 times a day chore!
- Putting away dishes
- Rinsing dishes
- Putting shoes in baskets
- Sorting laundry
- Feeding pets
- Putting away toys
- Stacking books
- Wet microfiber cloth dusting: I tell my toddlers “You go first and see how much you can do!” Then I follow along to catch the trickier spots.
- Wiping table: see #15
- Sweeping with small brush and dustpan: see #15
- Wiping bathroom surfaces with Clorox wipe: see #15
- Winding vacuum cord
- Sorting silverware: ultimate shape sorting chore for toddlers.
- Watering plants
- Putting pillows on beds
- Replacing throw pillows
- Scrubbing baseboards: am I really going to do this myself? NOPE.
- Re-filling kitchen canisters: yes, this can be really, really messy. But they love it and there’s a reason vacuums were invented.
- Vacuuming spills: see #24
- Bringing in fire wood: wood stoves are the best. Warm, cozy, and full of work training opportunities.
- Carrying grocery bags from the car: bread bag is the toddler’s domain.
- Buckling car-seat chest-clip
- Hanging jackets/sweaters/bags/towels on hooks: eye-level hooks
- Brushing teeth: see #15
- Scrambling eggs: favorite at our house!
- Scrubbing potatoes/rinsing produce
- Cleaning under beds or couch
- Folding washcloths
I have personally used all of the chores on this list with my own toddlers. Yes, some may seem silly or invented just so I can assign a chore for my toddler, but that’s okay! The important thing is that rather than saying “just a minute, honey” or “don’t do that!” all day long, I can actually ask for and expect developmentally appropriate help. Toddlers can be incredible energy and attention suckers if left to their own devices or expected to play independently while you get the chores done. On the other hand, they can be cute, cozy, and capable companions during chore time, it all depends on your attitude and training, Mama.
Benefits of Chores for Toddlers
Mostly, our toddlers just want to be with us, sharing in whatever we are doing. As a result, creating ways that they can be close by, with busy hands, can help us get through our tasks more easily and fill their love buckets at the same time. For other ideas of just keeping your toddler busy check this post out.
All members of our families need to feel needed, like they are integral to the family. Especially toddlers, who are either the littlest member of the family or the newly displaced second-to-littlest, need to know that they are important and needed. Having regular chores just for them helps convey this sense of needed-ness and a place of belonging in the family.
Unlike tweens or teens, toddlers are eager to scrub the bathroom, vacuum, dust, or wash dishes. So let them do it! I’m convinced that engaging children’s help from toddlerhood will make them more helpful as they grow older. They will be trained in how to do the job properly and practiced enough that they truly will be capable of doing the entire chore by themselves by age 6 or 7. Plus, working as a family builds unity, trust, and camaraderie which creates a happier family overall.
Toddlers are great, but they are also challenging. I hope these suggestions help spark your own creativity and you find a way to put your toddler to work today! For tips for reading with your toddler check this post out.