Did you know that the toddler years are a great time to start introducing fun and simple age-appropriate household chores? With two girls between the ages of 1 and 4, we’ve learned to start chores in engaging ways to help instill a lifetime of good habits, independence, and self-reliance. Plus, we’re sharing a handy downloadable chore chart, with the best chores for kids, broken down by age.
It’s time for another post in our awesome mama series where we share our thoughts on all things motherhood, babies, and kids! You may remember our last post – Must-Have Baby Items for the First Year: What You Really Need on Your Registry – and I’m back at it today, talking all about introducing chores for toddlers and kids. I’ve teamed up once again with some of my favorite mom bloggers, Caitlin of The Mama Notes, Mandy of Momma Society, Amy of Coffee Beans & Bobby Pins, and Arin of Happily Inspired – to bring you what I hope will be a super helpful guide to chores, just in time for spring cleaning!
Before we delve on in, if you’d like to see anything particular throughout this series, please be sure to comment below! I can’t wait to delve even further into all things motherhood with this great group of mamas!
Chores for Kids
Okay! Let’s talk CHORES. It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of chores. This recent post – 5 Cleaning Hacks for Busy Parents who Don’t Like to Clean – about sums it up. (And I’m pretty sure this has been my most popular pin as of late for good reason!) Still, as a mama to two little kids – a four year old and one year old (who is now entering the toddler years) – I know the importance of instilling some basic responsibility for your things and surroundings.
We love to make messes; from crafts to baking, and so much more, yet I knew I wanted our whole family to be a part of the clean-up. Keeping on top of the mess, and tidying up after yourself, is such an important life skill. Nobody likes a mess, and growing up, and cleaning up, teaches kids to feel responsible for and protective of their things. All great skills to have.
Plus, I’ve found that making chores fun, and engaging our girls in the process is actually a whole lot more fun, and can feel a whole lot less tedious.
How to Introduce Chores for Toddlers and Young Kids
In general, the toddler age is a great time to start introducing household chores. Now when I say chores, I certainly don’t mean scrubbing toilets; it’s all about simple, age appropriate chores. When introducing chores for toddlers, it’s more about teaching them to care for their things, to put things away after they’ve been played with, and to be mindful of mess.
Forget perfection. I’ve learned not to expect perfection when it comes to chores for toddlers and kids. Far from it. The importance of chores for toddlers and kids is teaching little ones how to do it on their own and to develop those good life skills for the long haul. It’s not so much about the end result, but more about the act of doing it.
Keep chores simple. Chores should be fun and easy, so that toddlers and kids can easily accomplish goals and feel proud of the work they’ve done. As they get older, tasks can become more involved and/or build on the skills they already have learned. Don’t forget to cheer your kids on when they’ve completed a chore. Even the smallest victories deserve recognition and positive reinforcement.
Make chores a part of the daily routine. Even if it’s a few small things around the same time each day; i,e., we put away the toys before dinner each evening, beds get made in the morning, etc.
Set a good example. I also try to model the behavior by giving myself the same chore. I may not necessarily help them to put away all of their things – though admittedly, I do help them with put toys and books where they belong as well – I try to show them that I’m also cleaning up my mess, my workspace, etc. The toddler years are the perfect time to introduce chores that you do every day because toddlers love to mimic behaviors; use that to your advantage. If your toddler sees you making your bed, chances are, he or she will want to do the same and view it as something fun that the whole family does.
Benefits of Giving Your Toddlers Chores
Phrase to include in subheading THREE: Benefits of Giving Your Toddlers Chores – explain why you give your toddlers chores and what it teaches them & any benefits of giving them chores, etc.
The reasoning behind giving our toddlers chores can be varied.
For starters, giving your toddler structure at a young age is always a smart move.
Teaching your toddler that he or she can and should contribute to the household will also instill a lifelong responsibility for what’s important. They learn to value their things and their home.
Performing chores is a great leap in the right direction towards toddler independence.
Best Types of Chores For Toddlers and Kids
When choosing tasks for chores, keep them age appropriate. The goal is to make household chores simple and achievable so that your child can take pride in both contributing to and completing things that help the whole family.
I’m sharing the chores that work well for both a younger toddler, think one to two years old, and a young child, think three, four, and five years old, including this handy downloadable chore chart with the best chores for toddlers and young kids, broken down by age.
As for age appropriate chores …
Here are a few chores that work well for our 17-month old:
Chores for 1 – 2 Year Olds
Put Away Toys
I like to set out a bucket or bin and I show our youngest how to place things into the container. Emme is at the age where she loves to mimic, so I can usually get her to fill a bucket or bin pretty easily.
Put Away Books
Again, I show our youngest where the books go. We have a few cubbies where the books go. She actually loves putting the books away.
Sort and Put Away Laundry
Obviously, for a one year old, this is going to look different for a three or four year old. Both girls help me load dirty clothes into the washing machine. And then typically, when we fold and put away laundry, I bring the girls into the bedroom or living room, sit on the floor, and sort and fold through the stack of clean laundry from the laundry basket. Our one year old mostly just watches and pulls clothes out of the basket. I like that she’s watching and learning, and the hope is that in a year or two, she’ll really be helping with this chore.
Put Clothes in the Hamper
This one couldn’t be easier, but it’s a great habit for kids to get into.
Here are a few chores that work well for our 4 year old, and have worked well for her since she was 3 years old:
Chores for 3 – 5 Year Olds
Put Away Toys
We’ve been working on teaching our four year old to put specific toys where they belong. So rather than just having her dump all of the toys into one big bin, we’ve been teaching her to put all of her magna-tiles in one bucket, magformers in another (love this awesome case for them!) the specific puzzle pieces in the corresponding puzzle bow where it belongs, all of her dress-up clothes in her wardrobe, etc.
Put Away Books
We’re working on putting all of the books away, spines out, so that they’re easy to choose for next time.
Our oldest loves filling the dog’s water dish and food dish, and that’s become a fun one for her. We try to do this when she gets home from school.
We actually haven’t started this one yet, but our oldest is eager to help, so I think this will be a fun one for her.
Fold and Put Away Laundry
Same scenario as above – both of the girls help me put dirty clothes into the washing machine, and then into the dryer, and once I’ve pulled all of the clean clothes out of the dryer and into the laundry basket, we sort through, fold, and stack up laundry in my bedroom. Our oldest has gotten really good about stacking the folded clothes into the person’s pile, and she then helps me bring the stacks to each person’s room and we put everything away together.
I’ve mentioned Beddy’s before here and here, and that easy, zippered bedding has made bed-making for our oldest so much easier. She actually looks forward to zipping her covers up in the morning and stacking her pillows back at the top.
Clean up the Trash
Especially now that she has a little sister to care for, Scarlett has been such a great help when it comes to picking up little bits of garbage, empty cups, etc. in the living room and kitchen.
Our oldest looooooves watering the plants, I just try to keep an eye on her to make sure she’s not drowning the plants. 😂
So far, I only let the girls wipe down surfaces with a baby wipe, but this is definitely a fun and easy one for kids.
Our oldest loves putting away the flatware because those are the drawers she can easily reach. She’s really good at sorting the forks, knives, and spoons where they belong. This is probably a good chore for older kids, because some of the things in the dishwasher can be breakable or sharp.
Set the Table
Just as she likes to sort the clean flatware into the silverware drawer, setting the table for dinner or a get-together is always fun for our four year old. We make a game of it, and I’ll hand her first a stack of plastic cups that she sets at each person’s place setting, then the forks, then the spoons, and so on.
Put Clothes in the Hamper
Again, this is a relatively simple and straight forward task, but it’s a great habit for kids to get into.
Remember to have fun with it! Help your toddlers and kids to pick and get involved in chores they’ll find fun. Applaud your little ones when they accomplish even small tasks, and embrace the imperfectness of it all.
Do you have chores for your toddlers and young kids? How do you teach and track those chores with your little ones?
Don’t forget to check out the other mamas’ posts:
- The Mama Notes’ Ultimate Spring Cleaning Guide for Busy Moms
- Coffee Beans & Bobby Pins’ Spring Cleaning 101: Tips for Cleaning/Organizing Everything You Own
- Happily Inspired’s Toddler Chores 101
- Momma Society’s How to get your Toddler to Help with Chores
SHOP THE TODDLER CHORES POST | CLICK LEFT & RIGHT ARROWS TO EXPLORE
IF YOU LOVED THIS KIDS POST, YOU CAN SEE MORE OF OUR LIFE WITH TWO LITTLE ONES HERE.
Photo by Annie Timmons Photography for Glitter, Inc.