I’m just gonna say it: Kids are capable of doing a lot more around the house than we give them credit for or allow them to do.
There are quite a few reasons we shy away from assigning chores to our children.
- We think they are too young.
- We don’t want to spend the time to teach them.
- We are worried they won’t do it right and we’ll just have to do it again ourselves.
- We want them to live a fancy-free existence with absolutely no work involved.
The most popular of those for mamas seems to be the time we have to put in to teach our children how to perform the chores. It usually ends up being a case of "Oh just let me do it!" While that works in the moment, it is pretty harmful to our mama schedules in the long run. When we forgo teaching our children how to do things for themselves immediate ease of doing it quickly, we set up a future where our kiddos aren't capable or even interested in helping at home.
While I am pretty opinionated about giving kids chores and tasks to help within the home, I have zero opinion on whether to or how to incentivize chores. Choosing to give allowance is a super personal choice as a parent. Don't fret if you aren't ready to do that. You can always give incentives in another way, like trips to get ice cream or to the park.
Kiddos in the 2-3 year old group are capable of a lot more than we adults think. The key is to teach them and allow them to help. We're not striving for perfection here. I mean, have you ever seen a 3 year old fold socks? The more they do, the more they will learn.
Here are some of the best ways to get your toddlers involved in
Load the dishwasher: Sure, your 2 year old won’t be the one loading the sharp knives and all the dinner plates in every night, but a small child can absolutely help load spoons, plastic cups and small bowls. Not only is this a help to you, but it sets them on the right track for doing this chore later on.
Sweep the floor: I bought a tiny, sweet little kid broom for my son when he was around 2 years old and I swear that was his favorite toy for years. Sweeping is a pretty easy task and doesn’t require a whole lot from children. It is however an annoying task when you are an adult and feel like you are sweeping up Cheerios all the live long day. Even better than a broom is a Swiffer, which if you weren’t already aware, you can make smaller by removing the middle piece. Talk about easy. This makes it just the right size for small children. Slap on a dry dust pad or a cloth and let them sweep away the dust bunnies until their heart’s content.
Fold clothes: It may not be pretty. It may not be perfect, but even taking their tiny pants and folding them up is one less thing for you to do.
Wipe down low surfaces: From the time my son was about 2, he loved to use the spray bottle with “cleaner” (it was actually just water) to clean his small table and the dining room table. I gave him a small spray bottle, a cloth and let him clean the surfaces. Truth be told, he did a darn good job.
Pick up toys: I will make this one quick. If they are big enough and old enough to take the toys out, they are big enough and old enough to put them away. No exceptions.
Feed the pets: Can you let them pour food into the kitty or doggy dish? Let them fill the water dish?
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Dust: A Swiffer duster costs about $3, or less if you shop at the Dollar Store and they can easily dust surfaces, especially those without many knick-knacks or breakables.
Pick up and sort books: Just like toys, books are easy for small children to sort and put away. Plus, this is an excellent lesson for them in sorting and categorizing.
Wipe up small messes and spills: Although my son is 4 at the time I write this, I don’t remember the last time I cleaned up one of his small messes or spills. He has access to small towels and knows how to wipe the spill up. Kids as young as 2 can be taught how to properly wipe up a little spilled juice.
Put laundry in the hamper: If you child can hold a tiny little shirt and pair of pants in their hands, they are able to throw them in the hamper. It is a small task, but creates a lot of independence for them. Maybe then they will grow up understanding that clothes go IN the hamper and not right next to the hamper (to all the men out there...hint hint…)
Make the bed: So, I will say that my son has trouble with this because he has a large bed. He never had a small toddler bed. If your children have toddler beds, they are perfectly capable of pulling the sheets and blanket up each morning.
I have found that the most important chore your child can do is the one you teach them to do with love. They won’t do it right the first time, and maybe not even the thousandth time, but the joy they will get from helping is worth the slightly crumpled mess of clothes they call folded.
Now that you've got a handle on the chores for your kiddos, what about the rest of the house? House cleaning is usually a nagging chore for most moms, which is why I created the Everything and the Kitchen Sink cleaning list. Sign up to receive your free house cleaning list, broken down by room. Print it out, keep it in a binder, hang it on the wall (it's colorful and pretty) and use it to create your cleaning schedule or just as a useful guide for #allthethings that need to be cleaned in your home. Own your schedule so it doesn't own you.