Chore Ideas for Small Children
Lisa - January 4, 2023
Chores are a great way for children to learn how to work, develop basic skills, and help take care of the family’s needs. For little ones, however, sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to get them started; what can they do that would actually help rather than make a bigger mess? As a mother of a toddler myself, here are some ideas that I thought of.
Picking up toys
If a child can get a toy out, he can put it away. If he's not very good at sorting or organizing yet, try to have a central toy box or shelf so that he can take all the toys to the same place. It's also easy to tell when this chore is done, since it's pretty hard to miss if there's still a toy on the floor.
Putting away little dishes or silverware
Toddlers usually aren't coordinated or strong enough to put away plates or pots, but they should be able to handle their own kid-sized dishes. You can either designate a reachable cupboard as the place for those plates and bowls, or you can pull a stool or kitchen chair over to the higher cupboard. Then she can take her plastic dishes out of the dishwasher or off the counter and pile them up herself.
Since we don't put sharp knives in our dishwasher, we've found that letting our little boy put the silverware away also works pretty well. We just set the tray on the counter above the silverware drawer and pull a chair up so he can reach it. It's an easy job, plus it lets him practice sorting out forks, spoons, butter knives, and kid utensils.
Once a child has learned the basic motion of moving a rag back and forth, wiping off counters, tables, shelves, and other surfaces is pretty straightforward. Use water or a basic disinfectant solution; avoid cleaners that could irritate the child's skin. If the surface has crumbs or something similar, just make sure to save sweeping or vacuuming until after she's done so she doesn't have to worry about keeping them off the floor. It's also best not to leave stains or hardened grime up to her, since most small kids would get frustrated trying to get it off.
Does your home have any mini trash cans, such as in a bathroom, a bedroom, or an office? Those little bags are the perfect size for a toddler to help with. After an adult ties it up, a little one can have a good time carrying it outside and throwing it in a dumpster. You may need to hoist him up to reach the opening, and you'll definitely want to make sure the bag is tied tightly in case he drops it.
If you have a garden, you're bound to also have weeds. As long as the weeds aren't dangerous to touch, you can make a working duo where you dig one up and the child pulls it out, shakes off the dirt, and puts it in a pile. As with the small trash bags, she'll probably enjoy tossing the weeds in the dumpster or compost pile when you're done. This job is especially effective in the spring, when the weeds are small and there are few (if any) plants you don't want her to step on. Planting your garden with plenty of space between desired plants will help minimize the latter problem in later months.
Hopefully these ideas have given you a good place to start sharing the load with your young children. Work is good for little kids, too. Let us help you get everyone involved.