Children in the toddler and preschool age ranges are definitely old enough to be assigned household chores. Oftentimes, children know more and are capable of more than we realize. Giving your toddlers and preschoolers chores, both personal and pertaining to the family, teaches them responsibility and allows them to contribute to the running of the household.
There are many options regarding age-appropriate household chores for your toddlers and preschoolers. Some include:
- Putting up clothes - Toddlers and preschoolers should easily be able to put items such as socks and underwear into drawers. However, you may need to show a little patience as they learn to put up folded clothes. A shirt may come unfolded in the process, but it will be okay! They are little and learning.
- Cleaning up after playing - Start expecting your children to pick up their messes as soon as they are finished with them. Don’t let them move on to another activity without properly cleaning up the prior activity. You definitely want to make this habit before they hit those teenage years!
- Making the bed each morning - Making the bed each morning gives your children something they can accomplish first thing! As with putting up clothes, this one may also require a little grace. A few wrinkles are fine. We are striving for progress at this age...not perfection!
- Picking out clothes each night - Before your toddlers or preschooler go to bed, have them lay out their clothes for the next day. As an adult, my mornings go much smoother when I do this for myself, and I know it helped our mornings operate more efficiently when my daughter was young.
- Dusting - Many small children find a duster to be cool. Use this to your advantage. Assign your toddlers and preschoolers small areas to dust. If they miss some spots, show the remaining dust to them, and let them try again.
- Taking out small bags of garbage - While small children may not be able to take out large bags of garbage, they should have no problem with being able to take out small bags. Have them get the garbage from their room and bathroom. You can make this a family activity. As you take out the large bag, have them take out the smaller ones.
- Setting the table - Let your toddlers or preschoolers set out the plates, silverware, napkins, and condiments. You may need to get the plates out of the cabinet and silverware out of the drawer for them. You can turn this into a game. You can set the first place, and then let them make the other places “match” yours. Make sure that your children know how to properly walk with and handle a knife.
- Sweeping - Your toddlers or preschoolers should be able to sweep designated areas. As with some of the other chores listed, do not focus on the sweeping being perfect. Just get them in the habit!
- Feeding pets - Pets are a big responsibility, and children can take part in sharing that responsibility. Let your toddlers or preschoolers fill the water and food bowls each day.
- Help with cooking - This may seem like more of a burden for the one actually cooking. However, the focus needs to be on delayed gratification. Get them interested in cooking at this age, so that they can contribute more as they get older. Being able to cook will also make their future spouses very happy!
As you can see, though they may be small, toddlers and preschoolers can absolutely contribute to making the household run. Just keep in mind (even when it is hard!) that they are learning. Praise them when they do a good job and gently correct them when they don’t. Hang in there moms and dads….you’ve got this!