7 Chores for Toddlers They Can Do On Their Own

As a mom, in general, I frequently wonder if I am doing things well, if I am on the right track, etc. As a mom of a toddler, I frequently wonder if I’m losing my mind! One thing that’s helped me keep a bit more of my sanity lately is teaching my little one to be more responsible and independent—capitalizing on her incessant desire to “help” me around the house! So I gave her some chores, set her up for success, and she does GREAT!

Here are 7 chores for toddlers they can do on their own:

1. Shoes

Originally, I wanted her shoes neatly in the closet but that didn’t work so well. So I got a big bucket with a resting lid (not snapping). She plunks her shoes in there, replaces her lid, and we are good to go! It allows her to be creative and independent when choosing which shoes to wear that day to “match” her outfit!

2. Clean Clothes

Most of her clothing is incredibly wrinkle-resistant which means they can go in drawers. We have a dresser for my toddler with six drawers. I labeled the drawers with one big letter each (or you could use shapes, superheroes, or colors): “S” for shirts; “P” for pants; “B” for Bedtime Clothes; “D” for dresses; and “U” for underwear and socks. I showed her how to do it—repeating what goes in each drawer a few times. Now I can give her articles of clothing and tell her to put them “where they belong” and off she goes…most of the time!

3. Dirty Clothes

Little Clutter JailWe have a short standing hamper in my girl’s room. I point to the piles of dirty clothing in her room and tell her where to put them and then she puts them away.

4. Pet Food

My girl loves animals and, since she has been old enough to say the dog’s name and “food,” she has been reminding me when the dog’s bowl is empty. So we now have the dog food in another huge bucket with a lid (we live in Florida, have you seen our bugs?) with a big cup in it. When we tell her to, she puts two cups of food in the dog’s bowl and replaces the lid. She is delighted she helped the dog!

5. Drying Disheshelp mom quote

This is a new one in our house. One night when I was washing dishes, I sat her at the table and gave her a towel and the plastic dishes. She dried those dishes! Granted, they were not as dry as I typically get them, but she had fun and enjoyed helping.

6. Dinner Table

Your toddler, as well as mine, can help set the dinner table. She knows we typically have four people at the table and places the napkins around the table. Sometimes she leaves extras which is helpful in the case of spills. But she is participating in the family dinner routine. She can also place the forks and spoons when we give her the correct amount.

7. Groceries/Food

In our house, regardless of who went to purchase the groceries, everyone removes them from the car and helps put them away. Now my toddler cannot possibly lift the same amount my teenager can, but she is still given light groceries to take into the house. She has her own shelf in the pantry which she helps to stock. That shelf, along with a drawer in the fridge, allows her some independence if she is hungry and wants to get food herself.

Regardless of what will work in your home, simplicity is key with toddlers along with a healthy dose of patience and a teachable spirit. {Tweet This} When I remember I am helping her become responsible and independent (not perfect), I breathe much easier. Instead of noticing that I have a toddler fork at my spot at the table, I notice she remembered I love the color purple.

In The Comments

What's the key to teaching toddlers to help around the house?


  • Sarah

    I love this! My four and 6 year old help me unload the dishwasher, empty all the trash cans in the house, and collect all the dirty laundry on wash day. My 6 year old even vacuums! But these are great ideas on how to encourage my 2.5 year old to pitch in more. I have found it to be VERY helpful to have little helpers in the house, and I know it’s because I’ve been consistently including them in chore time! Thanks for the new ideas!

  • Nicknack

    Thanks for these ideas. My daughter is 4 and won’t do chores if I ask once or twice. It’s a constant begging and nagging. But, this is a fresh idea set I can start in on. Thanks for the quick easy tips. Love the shorter articles.

    • Thanks for the nice feedback! Good luck with your sweet 4 year old!

  • Marie

    please please make sure the Dresser Drawer stand is secure to the wall if you are going to have one in your children’s room. Each year little kids die from the dresser falling on top of them- they open too many drawers at once, they pull down on a drawer to see what is in side, etc. Such a tragedy. we just had one on the news not too long ago in our area. so please take the proper measurements to secure them. Thanks.

    • Good reminder! Thanks for caring enough to share.

  • We love your ideas so much, moms! You sound like wonderful toddler moms!

  • Love the napkin idea! Thanks, Denise.

  • So cute and clever!

  • Stephanie G

    My 3 year old helps unload the dishwasher–he can sort all of the silverware (sharp knives are removed by me first), and put away things that are in the bottom cupboards. He also helps move the laundry from the washer to the dryer (I hand it to him from the washer and he puts it into the dryer). While I’m folding, I’ll hand him a pair of socks or underwear and he’ll run it up to his room and put it away which gives me enough time to fold an article or 2 before he is back for another.

  • Daul Family

    I agree. My toddlers do these chores. At 2 my kids began helping unload dishwasher and putting everything but sharp objects away. They put away their own toys, sort laundry, and load/unload washer/dryer. They also love to use my sticky roller mop to clean floors, and help my hubby with a little yard work, trash, etc. They both help prepare meals too no matter how small their part may be. In addition to my two toddlers, I have a 24 year old son. I never gave him much responsibility with chores when he was a little kid making it difficult to instill as he got older. He struggled getting by on his own after he moved out. Learned my lesson and got my little ones involved in family and personal responsibilities early. My 5 year old wakes up to his alarm clock on school days and follows his morning checklist that’s posted on bathroom mirror. He also packs his own backpack and is responsible for getting it into the car. My 3 year old is learning by imitating her older brother. They have both responded well to their responsibilities and enjoy all the praise they get. They both frequently offer help without being asked. Hoping to raise responsible, independent, helpful kids.

  • Steph

    The benefits of chores are numerous and not just limited to keeping the
    house in order; chores that involve sorting such as putting clean
    silverware back into the drawer, sorting laundry,etc. and setting the
    table are one-to-one correspondence, sequencing, matching, etc. Chores
    also allow children to feel that they belong, that they contribute, and
    that they are worthwhile; setting this in early childhood will pay big
    dividends in the teen years. Another great toddler chore is a bottle of
    non-toxic cleaner or just plain water and a rag…they can clean the
    fronts of cabinets, stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, chair seats,
    The key, as mentioned in the article, is actually teaching them HOW to do it and setting them up for success.