Every parent wants what is best for their child. You want your child to know happiness, comfort, and be able to have anything they want in life. But if you are not a millionaire, then you probably can’t guarantee them all that. What you can do, is teach them how to work for it. And that starts with letting your toddler help with chores.
Chores Are A Good Thing
Okay. So let’s be real for a second. No one really wants to do chores. I can list 100 things I’d rather be doing than chores. But they must be done. My philosophy is to make the best of it. Do it quickly and together, and move on with what you actually want to be doing.
Doing chores can teach children a ton of things that they will be grateful for later in life.
- Life skills
- How to follow directions
- Work ethic
All of these things are incredibly important, and letting your toddler help with chores can be an easy way to accomplish teaching them.
Make sure to check out the Resource Library to get your free printable worksheet to plan out your toddler’s chores!
A specific situation sticks out to me from my life as the defining moment I knew I would never not teach my children to do chores.
When I was 18, a freshman in college, I went away from home for the first time. As did most people I knew growing up. Well this one boy I’d been in school with since Kindergarten was a Facebook friend. And after about 2 weeks of being in school I saw a status from him that I will never forget.
“That moment when you realize you are an 18 year old living on your own and you have to call your mom to ask her how to do your laundry.”
You guys. He was legally an adult. He was living in a dorm, hundreds of miles away from the only home he’d ever known. And he couldn’t wash his laundry.
He didn’t know how.
In the years since then, I have moved back home, lived in several places with my mom, gotten married, had 2 kids, and lived in what is now 5 different states. But I have never forgotten reading that status.
My kids, boys and girls, will know how to live on their own and do things for themselves.
They will know how to do laundry and wash the dishes. I will teach my daughter to mow the lawn, and my son how to sew a button. Because no one should have to rely solely on someone else to take care of something so simple and basic. Every person should know how to use a screwdriver and a hammer
I will teach my kids basic life skills regardless of their gender. Because I never want my son to call me and ask me how to wash his clothes. And I never want my daughter to have to ask her neighbor how to start a lawn mower.
And all this starts by letting your toddler help with chores.
This ties in closely with knowing how to do basic life skills. But I think it is very important to mention this.
Independence is huge. Toddlers crave it. I watch my son, Tobias, every day want to do things that Stuart and I do. We had sloppy joe’s for dinner the other night and I had given Tobias some of the meat in a bowl with a fork to eat while we ate it on hamburger buns. He wouldn’t eat his food. He handed me his bowl and whined for me to give him mine.
I told him “It’s the same thing.” But he wasn’t having it. So Stuart reached across the table with his sandwich and held it to Tobias. And, sure enough, Tobias took a bite. He wanted to eat it like we were.
He helps me unload the dishwasher and puts all the silverware in a pile in the drawer. He’s not tall enough to see into it but knows that’s where it goes. So I let him do that, and organize it as he goes.
I would rather he learn to do it and have the ability, than do it perfectly. Tobias is not even 2 yet. But he LOVES to help.
So, even though it makes more work for you. It may take longer. Let your toddler help with chores. He will become more independent and have more abilities sooner because of it.
How To Follow Directions
This probably sounds familiar. I have to tell Tobias to do things over and over and over again before he does it. Even things I know that he can do. I have to give him “the look”. Sometimes I have to threaten him with time out. It can be completely exhausting.
But let me tell you the change I’ve been trying to make.
Instead of telling him what NOT to do, I’ve been telling him what to do and how to do it.
And, you know what? It’s working.
We were in the kitchen, and his sippy cup was in the living room on the floor somewhere. He asked for juice (by going to the fridge and whining) and I said “No juice, but you can have water. Go get your water cup.” And he walked off. He almost got distracted but went into the living room. He was in there for about 3 seconds and came walking back, sippy cup in hand. There was no confusion, or resistance, he came right up to me and handed me the cup. I filled it with water, gave it to him, and off he went with it.
Now I don’t assume it will be like this every time. But it was a really proud moment for me. Over the last few weeks I’ve been working hard to give him tasks to do. He helps me get the laundry out of the dryer. Empty the dishwasher. He ‘helps’ (harasses?) his sister.
And I think that he feels good about being helpful. Which seems to make him WANT to follow directions. Which is a relief because, even if it’s only 1/50 times he does what I ask, it’s better than none!
So make sure that you are really giving simple, clear directions about how to help. And make sure you express that it will help you.
Tobias is way more likely to do something if I say “Can you help me/mommy, _________?” instead of “Tobias, do _______.”
This is the last main reason I think letting your toddler help with chores is SO important for their development.
We all know that person at work who does nothing. And they get away with it.
I don’t know about you but that drives me absolutely crazy. If I am at work, I am working. I’m being paid to be their for heaven’s sake! I don’t get paid to sit around and text or surf Facebook. I get paid to do my job.
And I will instill that ethic into to children too. Because everyone should know that things don’t just get handed to you. You have to work for them.
Now the best part of this, and something I truly believe.
We can all be successful. We can all be . Every. Single. One of us.
Because if you find what you are passionate about. Turn it into a job, a career. And work really hard at it. We can become the best. Whatever your version of your best is, can get you there.
I will teach my children that. Because I may not be able to just give my kids everything they want. But I will make sure they have what they need to get it for themselves. And that starts with work ethic. And work ethic starts with letting your toddler help with chores.
What Chores Do You Let Your Toddler Help With?
Go to the Resource Library to get your FREE worksheet to plan out chores that are right for your toddler.
This will vary greatly based on your child. But watch what they play with. And how they play. What do they try to do?
Tobias started to pick up laundry items I dropped while walking away from the dryer. Then he started to stand by the open dryer door while I was unloading. Now he helps me carry it.
He started to put his dishes in and out of the dishwasher (usually the opposite of whatever I was actually doing with them at the time). And it became a big battle with him. Now, I let him help me with whichever one I am doing.
Watch your child and you will have some ideas based on their interests, behavior, and ability. But here are some places to start with.
Let Your Toddler Help With Chores
Build up your toddler’s life skills. Help him learn to be independent. Teach him to follow directions. And encourage a strong work ethic to get things done at school and work in the future.
Your child will be more successful throughout life with these skills that you are teaching at a young age.
How do you let your toddler help?
PS. Click Over to Fun Toys To Help Your Child Learn: Years 1-2+