If your toddler is anything like mine, he is probably pretty eager to help you with everything. In fact, most toddlers are known to be extremely eager to help out. Which is why this is a great time to get your toddler started with chores, and make it fun with a toddler chore chart.
While it may seem like your toddler’s desire to help is more of a hindrance to you than a help, it’s a good idea to foster that desire. And believe it or not, there’s actually a lot of things your toddler can help out with around the house.
It’s true that letting your toddler help with chores may slow you down. However, I’d argue that this is temporary, and well worth the inconvenience. It doesn’t take toddlers long to learn new things. If you are intentional about teaching them to do a chore properly, you’ll soon see the benefits as your toddler no longer needs your help.
Of course, some toddlers need a little extra motivation. Or, a reward to help reinforce their good work. In either case, a toddler chores chart can be a great way to keep your toddler enthusiastic about their new chores.
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Should my toddler have chores?
If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably already decided to give your toddler some simple chores to do. But you may also still be on the fence. Is it really okay to give a toddler chores, even if you do it with a fun chart?
Maybe you’re wondering if your toddler is truly old enough to be given chores. You may even be debating the use of chores period, regardless of age. If you find yourself asking these questions and having these doubts, it’s okay.
Parenting today is a difficult job, especially with so many contradicting opinions and views being thrown at us from all sides. It’s perfectly okay to question, read multiple views, and come to your own conclusions. It’s okay to do what’s best for your family. And that won’t always look the same as everyone else.
Personally, I think chores have big benefits. And I don’t think toddlers are too young to start helping out. In fact, I personally think the earlier the better. Here’s a few reasons why.
What are the benefits?
Starting chores young, even at the toddler age, helps to smooth out the transition. Rather than suddenly started them a lot later, when it may feel more like punishment, starting young helps teach kids the real reasons for chores.
It’s not about punishing or even getting out of things as a parent. It’s about reaping the benefits sooner rather than later. And often, with a much better attitude.
The earlier you teach a child a behavior or skill, the better they seem to understand, remember, and accept it later. Toddlers are waiting for us to teach them. It’s up to us to give them the opportunity. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of their eagerness to help you!
Teaches life skills
Probably the biggest benefit of giving your toddler chores is teaching them life skills. Yes, I know, you have a whole 18 years to teach them those things.
But the reality is that the earlier kids learn real life skills, the better. Young children tend to learn much quicker and easier than older kids. At at the toddler age, they are eager to learn and help out.
While you may not be teaching your toddler huge skills and concepts right now, toddler appropriate chores serve as important building blocks for later. Learning to dress yourself and take care of personal hygiene are just as important as anything else.
It’s no big secret that toddlers love their independence. Am I right? And they are not afraid to fight you tooth and nail to be “big” and do something themselves. (And often, a lot of tantrums stem from suppressing their independence.)
We often talk about toddler independence like it’s a bad thing. In reality, it’s not. Although it’s not always realistic, your toddler’s desire for independence is a good thing. Remember, it’s our jobs to raise our kids to ultimately go off on their own and be responsible adults. And a big part of that is learning to do things for themselves.
One constructive way to channel that independent streak is to assign chores. Chores give your toddler a safe and stable outlet to exercise his independence. And in the process, he’ll get practical motor skill practice along with a host of other learning opportunities.
Teaches contribution to the family unit
This is a big one. And not everyone will agree with me—and that’s okay. But I think chores help toddlers to contribute to the family and connect with them.
Personally, I think all members of the family should contribute, within their ability of course. While the parents are the heads of the family, it’s also important for kids to be connected to the family unit in a meaningful way.
Don’t get me wrong. Your kids are not your servants. And I don’t think they should be expected to do everything for you. However, I also don’t think you are their servants, either. It is absolutely okay to have your kids, little or big, help out around the house. And the younger you start, the better.
What chores can my toddler do? (+ chart)
All that being said, what chores can your toddler do? Not every toddler will be able to do the same things, because every child is different. Each one grows and develops at his pace. Don’t stress about it if your child isn’t able to do some of these things, even if other children the same age can.
Pick out a few chores that your toddler can handle, and build on that as he grows. And don’t worry about it if your toddler isn’t able to do it perfectly. At this age, he may still need some help, and you may end up going back later to do it yourself.
That’s okay. At this stage, chores are about instilling some responsibility and teaching your toddler how to do things. Give your little one—and yourself—plenty of grace!
1. Get dressed
Getting dressed may not sound like a typical chore, but it’s one that your toddler will be able to handle. Learning to dress yourself is the first step in growing up and being responsible for yourself. Like most things, your toddler may need some help at first. With a little practice, he’ll quickly figure it out.
2. Brush hair
Personal hygiene is a great place to start for toddler chores—this is also a great time to implement a fun chores chart. Simple tasks like brushing or combing hair are great first chores for toddlers.
3. Brush teeth
Recently Elijah has become obsessed with brushing his teeth and combing his hair whenever he sees me doing it. Brushing teeth is a great “chore” to teach your little one personal hygiene. And the earlier you get started on this, the better.
4. Make bed
While it may not seem like a toddler could make a bed, I think you’d be surprised! Making their own bed is a great way to own their own space and take responsibility for it.
5. Pick up/put away clothes
Most toddlers are able to pick up their clothes and put them in the laundry hamper. Simple tasks like this help to make your job a little easier as they begin to learn to clean up after themselves.
6. Pick up toys
Picking up toys is a classic toddler chore that you can start earlier than you’d think. We taught Elijah to pick up his toys very, very early. He regularly cleans up his toys before meals and bedtime—it’s not very often that I have to do it myself. Of course, keeping the process easy will help your toddler to tame the mess and keep things picked up.
7. Help switch laundry
Early on, Elijah became obsessed with helping me switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer. I pull out the clothes from the washer and hand them to him. Then he puts them into the dryer.
I’ll be honest, this one is a bit of an inconvenience to me, since it makes the task take longer. However, it’s good to foster his desire to help. And, he’s slowly getting faster at it.
8. Help sort clothes
This is another chore Elijah often helps me with. At 2.5 years old, he’s able to recognize which clothes are his, and which are mommy’s and daddy’s. When laundry day comes around, he’s able to help sort his clothes from the clean clothes pile into a basket to go to his room.
Fair warning: don’t expect your toddler to be able to adequately clean the floor. You will probably have to come back later and sweep again to get the missed spots. But if you’re looking for a chore to get your little one started, sweeping is a good one. Find a shorter broom that your toddler can handle, and then let him go to town.
Elijah loves to try to help me clean, so every time I dust he likes to follow me around with his own cloth to help dust. And he actually doesn’t do too bad of a job! For this one, I wouldn’t recommend letting your toddler dust with a cloth that has cleaning chemicals on it. Either do a dry or damp cloth, or use an all natural cleaner that’s safe for little ones.
11. Help vacuum (try a toddler size vacuum)
Elijah loves to help vacuum! Besides our full size vacuum, we have another smaller vacuum that we took the long handle off of for him to use. Whenever there’s vacuuming to be done, he loves to get his little vacuum out and help clean up. If you’re worried about the power cord, try getting a small battery powered vacuum.
12. Help load dishwasher (nothing sharp or breakable!)
Some of you expert dishwasher loaders are cringing. Let loose a bit, and let your little one help load up the dishes sometime. Just be careful not to give them sharp or breakable items. Alternatively, you could have them load just their own plastic dishes.
13. Put away dishes (keep toddler dishes on low, easy to reach shelves)
Once the dishes are washed and dried, your toddler can probably help put at least some of them away. One trick is to keep your toddler’s dishes and eating utensils in a low cabinet where they can easily reach them. Your toddler will likely be very pleased to be able to put away and retrieve their own dishes. And your toddler can put another sticker on their chores chart!
14. Help cook (with supervision, obviously)
Toddlers love to help cook. Obviously, don’t let them near sharp knives or hot stoves/ovens. Always put their safety first. But there’s a lot of prep work that your little one can help with. Have him wash potatoes in a bucket of water, or put the cut up veggies into the pan.
It’s pretty easy to find the time to cook when you involve your toddler. And there’s tricks to making it easier on you! One way is to get a kitchen helper tower for them to stand on. This allows them to reach the counter easily without worrying about them falling down.
15. Help fold clothes
This is probably a shore best suited for an older toddler, but even young toddlers can have it on their chores chart. It will take some time to learn, and lots of patience from you. But in the end it is well worth it.
16. Put away shoes
Putting away the shoes is one chore that I have Elijah do on a daily basis. Somehow his shoes always end up strewn around the house. It’s his job to pick them all up and put them back in his shoe box by the front door.
17. Help clean up messes
I’m pretty convinced it’s never too soon to teach your kids to clean up their messes. Grab some paper or cloth towels and let your toddler soak up any spills. Allow him vacuum up any messes he makes with his snacks. Have him clean up his toys when he’s done with them. It’s never too early to start taking responsibility for your messes!
What chores does your toddler help with?
What are your thoughts on toddler chores? Do you think toddlers can/should help out? Does your toddler have a chores chart to help remind and motivate him? What chores are on it?