Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Including Toddlers in Housework

When Katie was a smaller baby and took several naps every day, I usually just did my cleaning while she was asleep. However, as she's gotten older and gone down to just one nap a day, I've found it works best for our family if I include her in the chores as much as possible. It has been amazing for me to watch her learn how to do various tasks around the house (and for now, she really enjoys it!). Getting her involved in the chores keeps her out of trouble while I do housework, and allows us to spend fun, quality time together while still getting things done.

My sweet helper!

These are some of the ways I've been able to use Katie's help while cleaning:

::Emptying the dishwasher. This was one of the first tasks Katie started helping with, and so far, we haven't broken any dishes. She unloads the bottom rack and hands the dishes to me to put away. This has been especially nice since my belly is getting bigger and bending over repeatedly isn't as easy as it once was. She's getting tall enough to reach the items in the top rack, too! It does take a little longer this way than if I just empty it myself, but it keeps Katie occupied and she's learning to help!

::Laundry. Katie helps me sort the laundry. We're still working on colors, so she needs quite a bit of guidance in this area, but as I'm sorting the clothes to wash, she picks up items and I direct her to the proper pile. She also comes out to the clothes line with me and hands me clothes to hang. This is nice because I don't have to bend over as much, and it keeps her close by while we're in the yard.

::De-cluttering. As I straighten up the house, I often hand Katie an item and tell her which room it belongs in. She happily RUNS it to the right room. Sometimes, she even puts things away if she can reach the item's home.

::Washing dishes. When Katie 'helps' me wash dishes, she mostly just stands on a stool at the sink and plays in the water while I wash. But, she loves every moment of it, and hopefully will be able to wash dishes all by herself one of these days!

::Cooking/Baking. Recently, I've started letting Katie "help" with cooking.  She pours ingredients in, stirs, and has also helped with kneading bread. It is a little messier when she 'helps', but she really enjoys it and I think she is learning valuable lessons. Plus, it keeps her busy so I can get our food made without needing to come to the rescue somewhere else.

With other chores, I usually just keep her busy nearby. When I clean in the bathroom, Katie often plays with water in the tub. When I make the bed, she plays in my room and hands me the pillows when it's time. When I run the vacuum, she usually runs away from it--it used to actually scare her, but now she gets a real kick out of it. Sometimes if she is having an off-day or if I'm super busy with outside commitments (which, by design, is very rare--and we love it this way), I will set her up with toys or a DVD to keep her occupied while I get the housework done. Typically, though, having her help with chores works for me!

I know every child is so different, and I only have experience with one, so I'd love to hear your thoughts! Do you include your toddler in the chores, or do you do them while (s)he sleeps/plays?


  1. How sweet keep encouraging her to help with joy. 1Corinthians 10:31 My Bekah n John are eager to help with the pets: dog, fish n Fla lizard( Rick caught it for them.) Its helpful because I quickly forget about the pets but they don't and remind daily!!! miss you much- jess

  2. My two-year old son puts the silverware away for us. I set the stool up next to the silverware drawer and he climbs up there. It's great because it's helpful and it helped him learn how to sort like items. :-)

    Both of my boys enjoy helping me with the laundry. And they also enjoy playing in water at the kitchen sink. :-) When I clean the bathrooms, Drew likes to help scrub the tub.

    It is a fun time working with my little ones. :-)