Getting your toddler to help with household chores not only instils good habits, it also helps develop vital skills. They can they practice their problem-solving skills and learn about cause and effect, and can also enjoy a sense of pride and accomplishment when they’ve completed a task, as well as feeling empowered by contributing to the household. Plus, who doesn’t need a hand with the endless daily to-do list? We’ve come up with some ideas to get you started – many of these can be adapted to suit your own child’s abilities and should be just challenging enough but not excessively difficult. With a little patience and lots of praise, your child will be well on their way to becoming a very helpful member of the family!
Unload the dishwasher
Very young toddlers will be able to hand you dishes to put away, while older toddlers can be asked to find where each item lives and put it away themselves as long as it’s within reach. Make sure you demonstrate by holding the dishes firmly with both hands to help prevent breakages. Just remember to remove anything sharp or particularly precious before your toddler starts helping!
Load and unload the washing machine
This a really simple task for the youngest ones to get involved in as you can grab your basket of (pre-approved!) washing and pop it down for your child to load into the machine. They’ll love to see their items going round and round, and when the cycle is up, they’ll probably be quite excited to take everything out!
Sweep the floor
Arm your little one with a dustpan and brush and encourage them to sweep up any debris off the floor. You can even make it into a fun game by creating a rectangle on the floor with masking tape and asking your toddler to sweep everything they can inside it.
Put away toys
You probably feel like you spend half your life picking up after your toddler so why not encourage them to do it themselves? Rather than saying ‘put away your toys’, give them extra direction and even look for opportunities for extra learning. Try labelling different boxes and baskets with pictures of what goes in each (e.g. books, cuddly toys) and asking your child to where the teddy bear goes or to put the books in the right box. Not only will they develop their skills, it will help keep things organised!
It’s no secret that we’re a green-fingered bunch here at JoJo, so why not encourage your little one to love plants too? Start by asking them to water the plants around your home – although you will have to put up with lots of puddles! To keep spills to a minimum, offer them a child-sized watering can filled halfway, or put your plants outside for their watering session. But if you really can’t handle the inevitable mess, give your child a spray bottle filled with water and ask them to mist the leaves instead.
Get the little cogs in their brain turning by having your toddler match socks into pairs. It’s a good idea to make things a little simpler by removing any socks that are different but look similar and sticking to ones that have a distinctive colour or design – unless of course you don’t mind odd socks!
Toddlers love this one – it’s probably something to do with free rein to get wet! Either place some soapy water in a bucket or provide them with a non-toxic window spray (or just water in a spray bottle) along with a cloth – or for even more fun – a squeegee! We can’t guarantee you’ll get a streak-free result, but it’s bound to keep your toddler busy for some time.
The cooking tasks that your child will be able to help with will vary widely depending on their age and ability, but even the littlest toddlers can make themselves useful in the kitchen. They can wash vegetables either with a basin of water on the floor or standing on a suitable helper stool at the sink, add cups of rice to a pan and stir ingredients in a bowl. Older toddlers can use a salad spinner, squeeze lemons, pick herb leaves off the stalk or cut soft items such as mushrooms and cooked potatoes with a child’s knife.
If your toddler is fascinated by your cat or dog and likes to show their love in a rather heavy-handed manner, encourage them to offer some gentle TLC in the form of feeding. A small bottle of water filled halfway can be given to a child to replenish the water bowl, and scooping dry food is relatively low-mess – old toddlers can squeeze food out of a pouch. Satisfy your toddler’s need for control by offering them two options to choose from.
Put away groceries
Help encourage curiosity around food by including your toddler when you’re buying groceries and when you’re putting everything away at home. You can ask your child to group together different items such as fruits, vegetables and things in jars, for example. It also gives you a chance to help develop their vocabulary, counting and colour recognition skills.