It took me a few babies to discover this awesome fact. I wish I'd know earlier, which is why I'm sharing with you today. However, before reading further, there are a couple of disclaimers.
First, doing chores with toddlers takes approximately ten times longer than if you did them yourself. However, there is a lot of learning going on here and in time (read: years) it will pay off. When your kindergartner unloads the dishwasher by herself, you'll be glad you started early.
Second, toddlers won't do the chores the way you would. In fact, not only will it take more time, you may have to re-do some or all of the task to get it correct. Again, the focus here is teaching the concept, not worrying about perfect execution. There's a lot to learn in the process and sharing chore time with your toddler will open up lots of teachable moments. So, if you can deal with these two drawbacks, READ ON!
In my opinion, the perfect time to introduce chores to your little one is after they are a confident walker. They love exploring their world, so why not share a few more details with them. They are learning to be independent. Teaching a chore is a great way for them to use that independence in a positive way. Plus, the look of pride on their face when they do a job well is priceless!
Most of my favorite toddler chores revolve around items already part of their life. They are safe to touch and familiar, therefore a great place to start. Here are some of my favorite toddler chores:
- Picking up toys - Most toddlers can't resist the game of picking up a block or other toy and dropping it into the bin. This is a great time to talk about colors and shapes as well.
- Cloth diaper laundry - While they probably can't stuff a pocket diaper, they can participate and "help" by matching like items. Challenge your little one to pull the diapers and inserts out of the basket and stack up similar colors or styles. Toddlers just love matching games!
- Setting the table or high chair - I like to keep toddler dinnerware in low cabinets where it's safe to play with. Instead of play, ask your little one to walk the plate or bowl to the table. This is another great time to teach the differences in shapes and colors. As they learn, you can ask for a specific color cup, bowl, fork or spoon.
Do you have a toddler that likes to help with chores? How old were they when they started? What are some of their favorite chores?