As a parent, it’s instinctual to want to do everything for our children. Especially our sweet toddlers. What I’ve noticed about my daughter in comparison to my son is that she is more eager to do things on her own. This may also be because she wants to be like her big brother or that she is just a naturally independent girl. She has asked to help me do a variety of things as early as age one and she hasn’t stopped just yet. If your little one is like mine and begs to help when you are cleaning, these chores are simple, safe, and will definitely help your young learner feel independent.
Putting away the dishes is a simple task that most children really enjoy doing. They can help by setting the table, cleaning the table, unloading the dishwasher, and putting a few dishes away. As always it’s important to make sure that you put away the fragile dishes and sharp cutlery such as knives. In keeping things fun, most children will definitely want to play with the pots and pans when they help put them away.
At this age, laundry hasn’t become a headache to children. As a matter of fact, most kids think its pretty fun. I think that we just get caught up in the correct way to do laundry, so if you’re like me in this aspect leave the folding for yourself. The goal is to make sure that they are having fun.
Children under the age of 5 that are asking to help out with laundry can do so by gathering laundry from hampers, placing and removing laundry in the machines, and if they are becoming skilled in sorting they can even help to match socks. Matching socks can be made into a game that also helps them learn an important skill. If you have laundry that is slightly more germy such as underwear or bath towels I would recommend that you have your little one clean their hands immediately after handling.
Putting away toys, crayons, and books, and personal items are just a few things that children under 5 are skilled at doing, but may not necessarily enjoy doing. When we ask them to begin to clean up there own things they suddenly become sleepy, tired, hungry, or confused. It’s mostly funny to see their expressions and ability to wiggle out of helping.
Teach them the designated areas that things must be returned to after play if they intend to play with them the next day. This chore will also help children that attend preschool learn how to be a team player and keep their classroom tidy. Trust me when I say that their teachers will expect them to do their part in helping. Why not begin at home? Children between the ages of 14- 24 months will require a little more patience from us as they learn to help put away their toys.
Dusting furniture is another chore that we may find absolutely boring but can be made into a fun game if young children want to help. Especially if you use a Swiffer to get the job done. Young children can imagine that they have a magic wand or sword. If certain areas are extremely dusty skip from allowing the kids to help. You wouldn’t want to run the risk of an allergy flare up or skin irritation.
Putting away the groceries is really fun for young children. They see it as a huge responsibility that only the grown-ups take care of, but are wowed that you are allowing them to help. They can help by putting bottled water into the fridge, snacks in the pantry basket, or fruit in the crisper drawer. It doesn’t last long, so if they are asking to help you’d better enjoy the help that you are getting right now.
When children ages 5 and under ask to help out they can do so by keeping their bedrooms tidy which also includes them making their own bed. Now it will not be perfect and the comforter will not be smooth, but they can easily learn how to fold the covers back and how to place their pillow upright. This is especially easy if they have a montessori/toddler style bed.
Putting away shoes or clothes in a drawer, clothes basket, or hamper is another chore that young children who want to help out can do fairly simple with maybe a few directions. Once the laundry is folded children can help out by putting reachable things away.
Have you ever found yourself making a pile of paper trash while decluttering the mail that is not worth shredding? This is a good time to allow your young child to learn how to recycle. If you cringe at the thought of your child going near your recycling bin simply take a bag and have them put the unwanted papers into the bag and you can recycle it at a later time. Disclaimer: Be careful and keep a watchful eye out if you decide to use a plastic bag. Plastic bags can cause suffocation in infants and children.
As the weather begins to get warmer children are much more anxious to spend time outdoors. It
is a very fun experience for them to learn to water plants or flowers. A child between the ages of 2.5 to 5 are more likely to be able to fill a cup or watering can with water to help out.
No matter what chore that you decide to allow your little one to help with, try and remember that they are learning and it will not be 100% perfect. They are mostly asking to help because it looks fun. Be sure to compliment their efforts or give them a small reward.