I grew up doing chores every Saturday. As far back as I can remember, I was responsible for my own space and mess. Because of this, I felt very prepared and independent when I left for college (unlike many girls I knew who didn’t know how to load a dishwasher, do laundry, or even clean a sink and mirror!). I was grateful for this, and it helped influence what kind of mother I wanted to be. I always knew I’d have my children do chores throughout the week, but I didn’t know when to start training them.
Well, Rhys decided he wanted to start his chore training a few months ago. I typically scrub the house every Friday, and he would follow me around, wanting to “play the games” Momma was “playing.” So, he’d “sweep”, “help” with laundry, and explore the dishwasher. I decided to help him learn how to do some chores “properly.”
As of today, Rhys helps me sweep and swiffer the floors, empty the dishwasher, pick up his toys, throw away his diapers, do some scrubbing, and do the laundry. Of course, he is only 15 months old, and can’t do any of these by himself, nor properly, but he is learning the concept. And that is the important part. It is helping him learn what is part of the family’s routine, learn responsibility, and gain confidence in his own abilities.
I’ve decided to share a few of my tips on how to have your toddler help you with chores.
[ctt title=”Even 1 year olds can help with chores. It\’s fun for them!” tweet=”Even 1 year olds can help with chores. It’s fun for them!” coverup=”4vsGR”]
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
One of the best basic ways of learning is repetition and direct instruction. Be consistent in how you do your chores and when to be responsible. For instance, we always wipe the table and sweep the floor after each meal. Now, Rhys immediately goes to the broom closet when I take him down from his high chair.
Guide them, if need be. Show them, then help them, then ask them to show you. Be patient until they get the concept.
Make it a Game
Make chores fun. Do it with your toddler, with a smile and a positive attitude. Play some kid or Disney songs and dance while you clean. Get them their own play equipment, for example, for sweeping, buy them a little play broom, If your toddler gets distracted, don’t force them to continue the chore–they are only toddlers, after all!
Again, these are toddlers! Supervise them! Give them age appropriate jobs and don’t let them touch harsh chemicals. Yes, Rhys “scrubs” the toilet, but he never touches the scrubbing part of the brush, nor the toilet water. When I Windex the mirrors, I have Rhys wipe a different mirror with no Windex on it–that way, he is stilling learning the how without me having to worry about the chemicals.
Have Patience and Be Flexible
Sometimes, Rhys’s “help” is counter-productive. Be patient with them. If a chore takes longer than normal, it is ok. You are teaching, not just doing it yourself. Take breaks. It takes me about 2.5-3 hours for me to completely finish all our scrubbing and chores, but I have to do it in two increments, so Rhys can have break. Don’t get frustrated. Just think of this as bonding and learning time, which it is. So, it is ok to go about chores one at a time with some mistakes.
Thank and Praise
No matter how much or how well Rhys helps, I still thank him. If he is taking clothes out of the washer as I am throwing it in, I still tell him thanks for helping. If he pounds the dirt pile with his broom as I try to sweep it up, I praise his effort. It is very important to encourage your child
in everything they try to do. This way, they are more willing ot do it. It also shows your love for them.
Do you have your toddlers “help” with chores?