Friends, please enjoy this really helpful guest post from a fellow mom blogger. She’s got some great tips, so take note before you go buy that Responsibility Chart! 🙂
Hi! I’m Brandy and blog at MommySplurge about having a healthy connected family and enjoying the good stuff (including reviewing subscription boxes)! When Tiffany asked me to write a guest post, I thought to myself, what is it that parents need? Besides sleep, time, and stuff that makes our lives easier and happier, having a clean home – and teaching our children to assist us in that never ending chore – is always pretty high on the list. I thought I would share my best ideas and advice for teaching toddlers and preschoolers to assist in household chores.
My kids are two and four, and while I don’t believe they should be responsible for cleaning my home, I always need a little help in that area and want them to understand the work that goes into it so they can help keep it nice too. I want my kids to be ready for responsibility when it’s time for them to really pitch in. Responsibility is something that must be learned, not foisted on them 5 years from now. The earlier you start small children with chores, the earlier they will become actually helpful.
While I include some specific chores for preschoolers and toddlers, I want you to take away some ideas on how you can incorporate chores for kids organically in your routine. My advice is realistic. Your two year old isn’t going to load the dishwasher even if the Internet tells you he can. Here are my steps as you start to learn what works for your family.
Getting Toddlers & Preschoolers Started on Chores
Step 1 – What do they want?
If they are interested in a cleaning activity, make it safe and have them help. They might not actually get it clean. That’s just fine as long as they are learning a habit! By following my children’s lead I have added washing the table, washing the floor, and using the vacuum to pick up crumbs and other messes to my kids’ chore repertoire. And of course they can’t get enough of dusting! Adding their chores based on your children’s particular interests is a fantastic way to incorporate child-led learning into your household routine. As your routine grows you can begin to add extra chores.
When I do not have a safe non-toxic cleaning product, we just use water or water and soap. And to be honest, it’s cleaner than it would otherwise be! I can’t remember the last time I decided to wash the floor all by myself.
Step 2 – Youngest Wins!
The youngest child capable of doing the task should be assigned the task. I often forget this one myself, but it is important that we give our younger children the opportunity for increasing responsibility as they grow. The easiest way to do this is to assign the task to the youngest one that is capable of it (and available). Don’t worry about the older ones. There is always more responsibility for them to take on as they grow.
Step 3 – Make it a Family Activity
Never clean while your children watch you. Find some way for them to assist you. Having them watch you clean reinforces the idea that the parent is responsible for cleaning everything. There is always a way for them to help. When it’s time to clean, announce that it’s time. Have tasks ready for the kids while you supervise or accomplish things that they really can’t do. By making it a family activity there is less time for you to get grumpy about cleaning, too!
Step 4 – Let them know they are doing a great job!
Praise. Praise for helping. Praise for doing a good job. Tell them how happy they make mom and dad. Praise, praise, and praise some more. If they miss a spot, this is your chance to tell them what a good job they did and can they help wipe this part up too?
Step 5 – Don’t Overthink It
Do not get hung up on a chore chart! It’s a great tool but filling out the chart isn’t the goal. It’s hard for me to be consistent about the chore chart and I decided that being consistent about my expectations for my kids was more important than remembering a sticker.
Chore Lists for Toddlers & Preschoolers
I admit that I once consulted the Internet for chore ideas for my kids and came up empty. Baseboards? Folding Underwear? My life is too busy for folding panties! These chores are age-appropriate and mesh with what most families need to accomplish.
Toddler Chores: 2-3 year olds
- Put away toys: children need a lot of direction with this task. Ask them to help you as you put away Mr. Potato Head. Give them one by one directions – can you put the green truck back on the shelf? Don’t expect your toddler to magically clean his room!
- Washing the floor
- Put clothes in hamper
- Use vacuum hose or handheld vacuum to pick up crumbs
- Wipe up messes
- Brush teeth. If you have an older child, she should be able to help your preschooler with loading up his toothbrush.
- Throw diapers or other trash away: even very young toddlers can assist with this!
- Laundry: toddlers can assist with putting wet clothes into the dryer. If you have a front-loader have your toddler put the dirty clothes inside the drum.
- Wash face and hands with wet cloth
If your toddler has mastered this list, then you can move on to preschooler chores.
Preschooler Chores: 4-5 year olds
- All Toddler chores plus
- Washing the table: they are tall enough now!
- Putting dirty dishes in the sink: only encourage this if your dishes aren’t breakable.
- Help preparing food: although toddlers can do some helping (my 2 year old loves to stir and to sprinkle cheese), preschoolers really start to become useful in the kitchen at this age. I always have a task for my four year old to complete.
- Setting the table: woah, they aren’t doing a formal place setting! Kids this age can get the silverware out and set it at each place. You get the plates out for them. Go slowly and build!
- Empty small trash cans: even though toddlers think they like to help with this, it’s usually a little much for them.
- Tidying their rooms: this is one of the hardest activities to delegate. We see our kids growing bigger and expect them to be able to help. But when their rooms are a mess you can’t just tell them to clean their room. At this age you don’t have to micro-manage, but they still need a lot of guidance. Try asking them to find all the Legos to put away (a preschooler you might ask block-by-block as you also clean up).
- Laundry: if you have a front-loader, preschoolers can take clothes out for the dryer. Smaller kids can put things in but have a harder time with getting them out. Preschoolers can unload the dryer (mine stands inside the laundry basket as she does it!).
What chores are you able to assign to your kids at these ages? What steps do you follow?
This is a guest post from Brandy O’Grady at MommySplurge. She’s a mom of 2, a grad student, a blogger, a South Hill Designs Artist, and a Stuff Parents Need superfan! She blogs about having a healthy connected family and enjoying the good stuff (including subscription box reviews)!