As parents, it’s our job to teach our kids the life skills that will set them up for a successful future. Cleanliness and organization are two of the skills that they’ll need most moving forward in life. While I don’t suggest overloading your little ones with too many chores, the reality is that even most toddlers are ready to begin learning basic housekeeping practices. In my mind, it’s never too early to start planting the seeds of practice that will blossom into habits as they grow.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of realistic housekeeping activities that most kids as young as two years old can begin learning with support from their parents. The fact is, most toddlers can:
Make their bed each morning:
We all know that a made bed helps our bedroom appear tidy and inviting. The same is true in our kids’ bedrooms. While many toddlers won’t be able to perfectly tuck and fold their bedding, they can organize all stuffed animals into one area, fluff their pillow, and pull their sheets and blankets up towards the head of the bed. This “chore” only takes about one minute, but it can set your child up for a lifetime habit of making their bed in the morning.
Clear their own dishes:
This activity may require a bit of assistance from you in order to avoid the mess of a dropped plate, but most toddlers are capable of carrying their dishes from the table to the sink once they have finished a meal. If you want to take it a step further, you can even have them help you rinse their dishes. I know my little one loves spraying his plate clean, and I bet yours will too!
Care for pets:
Teaching our kids how to be responsible pet owners is one of the greatest things we can do for them– and for our pets! Toddlers can help feed, brush, and exercise your family pet. In fact, they’ll probably be having so much fun that they won’t even realize they’re doing a “chore.” This is a great opportunity for you to model how to be gentle and loving towards animals. Toddlers are often little imitators, and soon they’ll begin to mirror your actions!
Sidenote: No matter how well-behaved your pet is, always remember to supervise your child when they are interacting with any animal.
Pick up toys:
It’s no secret that toys have a way of multiplying, and young children have a way of spreading them into every nook and cranny of a home. You can somewhat avoid this issue by teaching your child to put away one set of toys before taking out another set to play with.
Also, you can set aside a designated time each evening before bed to be “cleanup time.” When everyone pitches in this cleanup doesn’t take long, but it does go a long way in teaching kids to clean up after themselves.
Put dirty clothes in the hamper:
Kids tend to be messy. Whether they spill, have a potty accident, or get dirty playing outside, chances are that they wear more than one outfit in 24 hours. Rather than taking their clothes off and dropping it on the floor, we should encourage our children to take the extra few seconds to throw it into the hamper. This will help the floor stay clear, and it will also make it so that all of the dirty clothing is in one place when it comes time to do the laundry.
Each of the above chores is realistic and quick, but even these small actions will teach our little ones the value of tidiness. If they get used to doing each of these things now, they are far less likely to whine about pitching in as they grow older.
Try these out with your toddler today. I think you’ll be pleased with the outcome!
Casey Huff is a teacher turned stay-at-home-mom. She and her husband live in rural Colorado with their two sons and two ornery Labradors. Casey blogs at Etched in Home. Her mission as a writer is to celebrate parenthood and relationships, and shine light on the reality behind it all; the good, the bad, and always the real. When she’s not writing, you can find Casey chasing her Littles around, hiding in the pantry, or doing anything else to avoid dealing with the always-present mountain of laundry that haunts her days.