When I was young, my mom would joke that the reason she had kids was to get help with chores around the house. At least I think she was joking. I can’t remember an age when I didn’t have some task assigned to me, but I’m fairly certain I wasn’t mowing the lawn or scrubbing showers at two or three. I’m sure that if she could’ve figured out appropriate chores for toddlers, my mom would’ve doled them out!
The reason parents give big kids chores varies from house to house, but chores for toddlers have their merits, too. It’s not necessarily about getting them to contribute to the family or learn responsibility, but chores do help them grow in independence, develop physical skills like dexterity, and build confidence in their ability to accomplish a task. I’ve practiced a few chores with my daughter and while they take consistency and follow-up from me, I’ve noticed progress, so I consider it a win! Give these 7 chores for toddlers a try with your little one. You could even use our customizable chore chart to help track accomplishments and celebrate!
Originally, I wanted my daughter’s 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 each day to “match” her outfit!
2. Clean Clothes
Most of her clothing is incredibly wrinkle-resistant, which means it 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
This is one of the easiest chores for toddlers. Putting dirty clothes in the hamper is easy and it can be fun. We have a short standing hamper in my daughter’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.
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. If you have a pet in your house, try our printable pet responsibility chart to help bigger kids keep track of whose job it is to feed, water, or walk it.
5. Drying Dishes
This is a new one in our house. One night when I was washing dishes, I sat my daughter at the table and gave her a towel and the plastic 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.
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. When I remember I am helping her become responsible and independent (not perfect), I breathe much easier. Instead of noticing that I have a purple toddler fork at my spot at the table, I notice she remembered that I love the color purple.
Regardless of what will work in your home, simplicity is key with toddlers along with a healthy dose of patience and a teachable spirit.
What’s the key to teaching toddlers to help around the house?