Toddlers love to help out around the house, have you noticed? While their 'help' isn't always quite that, there are lots of household tasks that toddlers can do that are, at least, not unhelpful ;-) And doing 'big person jobs' always gives them such a sense of pride and boost of confidence! As Sweet Pea often says, 'I a Big Girl now!'
We're making a 'chores' system around our house for the girls. (I'm using the word 'chores' very loosely! Obviously, I'm not enforcing Cinderella practices around our home!) Princess Pea (aged 5) is certainly at an age when she can and should have some responsibilities at home. Aside from teaching her a sense of responsibility, having 'jobs' teaches her practical life skills, gross and fine motor skills, problem-solving and pre-mathematical skills, and - perhaps most importantly - reminds her that she is part of a family whose members help each other out. Having responsibilities around the house teaches her that it's important not only to do things for herself, but to do things for the 'greater good' of the family as a whole.
I'll be writing more about our chore system and the jobs that she has in another post. But, of course, everything that big sister is doing, little sister wants to do, too. So I've been trying to come up with ideas of 'jobs' that 2 year old Sweet Pea can do - preferably ones that don't end up just making more work for me, as toddler 'help' is prone to do!
Thinking back to when Princess Pea was her age, here are some of the things she liked to help out with around the house that were actually helpful to some extent.
Stirring the pancake batter
Stirring anything is always fun for toddlers and preschoolers - let them help with select food preparation that involves stirring (of course, use common sense regarding which items are suitable for your toddler to help stir - you may not want them stirring anything hot; raw eggs, etc.). 'Stirring' the knob on the salad spinner is another favourite kitchen job in our house.
Picking the cherries from the garden tree
Toddlers love to pick things in the garden - anything from fruit, to vegetables, to herbs, to weeds -- you just have to show them which ones they can pick, and which ones they can't. They also love watering - consider making them one of these DIY watering cans to help them avoid drowning your flowers.
Sweeping the balcony
Sweeping, vacuuming, dusting - any kind of cleaning that doesn't involve cleaning products can be done by a toddler. Ok, so you'll almost certainly still have to do it again yourself afterwards, but at least they're probably not creating more dirt while helping - and it keeps them occupied alongside you while you work.
Sorting the laundry
Toddlers can actually be quite helpful with the laundry. Matching socks, sorting clean laundry into piles according to who it belongs to, handing you items to hang, passing clothes pegs - my two love all kinds of laundry tasks (they even engage in imaginary laundry play)! And it's one of the most educational 'chores' they can have, what with all the sorting and categorizing, and colours to discuss, etc. Matching and lining up shoes is another great clothes-related toddler job.
And, of course, there's always 'invented tasks'. These can come in handy when you don't really want them to help, but they're insisting. I must admit, I'm not above making up 'really important jobs' now and then, like "Here, you stir the cup of water and I'll stir the cup of coffee". Sometimes it's just easier to let them help with a fake job.
*One tip - As much as toddlers love to help with grown-up tasks, I've found that's it's never a good idea to inadvertantly tell a toddler that you *need* them to help with something. True to their toddler sensibilities, this always seems to be a surefire way to garner a negative response!
*Finally, I think this is obvious, but just in case - toddlers and preschoolers should always be supervised in any activity!
What sorts of tasks do your toddlers like to 'help' with?
The Happy Housewife has a great printable list of age-appropriate household 'chores' that kids of all ages can help out with.
Looking for tasks a preschooler can do? Check out this list of 10 household jobs suitable for preschoolers from Housekeeping.org.
You can find more suggestions for letting your toddler 'help' at home (with a bit of humour - which you'll need if you are letting your toddler do housework!) at Glittering Muffins: 12 Ways to Include Your Toddler in Everyday House Work.
And check all the fun ways that Jamie at Hands On: As We Grow has her son 'help' at home!
This post is shared on The Sunday Showcase.