Becoming a mom can be overwhelming! Before I had kids (I was a homemaker), I worked hard to make sure the house was clean and organized, dinner was on the table, and my husband and I felt comfortable in our home. Having babies threw everything I did as a homemaker into disarray. Suddenly, I struggled to keep things clean, much less organized. Dinner was often, shall we say, “not homemade.” I very quickly started looking forward to the days when our kids would help out around the house with chores. I was trying to calculate the earliest possible age for a child to do the dishes and scrub the floor!
Well, not quite…
But I did start to think about teaching our young ones early on to help with the job of keeping house. I discovered children are able to be helpers at a very young age. And they are often enthusiastic about it! And I also learned a little bit of help goes a long way!
The chore my girls love helping with more than any other is laundry. They were able to help me very early on. G was helping with the laundry at 12 months and W is helping at 16 months. I think they enjoy the repetitious nature of pushing dirty laundry into the washing machine – pulling it out and pushing it into the dryer. Then they love to help me push the laundry basket into the living room so we can fold it together. We have some really helpful laundresses in our family!
Tips to Encourage Little Helping Hands
If you are interested in teaching your little ones to help around the house I have some tips to make it easier for both parent and child.
Keep expectations low and tasks simple.
Making the chores something attainable is very important for this age. You can only expect what is possible for your little ones.
Be patient and take it slow.
It may seem counter-intuitive to do tasks slower than you normally would by yourself, but taking the time necessary to teach and allow your little one to help will pay off later.
Teach the right way from the beginning.
If you are really looking to maximize the helpfulness of your tot, teach them the correct way to do chores from the beginning. This will prevent re-teaching later. And it will give them a greater sense of accomplishment when they do it right!
Offer generous encouragement and praise.
Keep them excited and involved by using encouraging words and saying, “thank you!” more than you say, “No.” Gentle correction and generous praise will encourage little ones to want to be involved. Celebrating the tiny victories will also foster your little one’s sense of accomplishment and worth.
The process of teaching little hands to be helpful requires constant observation. You are not likely to be teaching toddlers to be doing dangerous tasks but staying on top of their actions will prevent accidents.
Chores for Tots
I thought through all the things our girls are able to help around the house with and I came up with a long list! Many of the chores they help us with require supervision – meaning they are an opportunity to teach the proper way. And some of the chores are so simple, you may not consider them chores. Don’t be fooled! Kids will be so excited to help around the house and a great sense of accomplishment will be developed in your little ones’ hearts. Here’s my list:
- Press the start button on the washing machine and dryer. We practiced this the other day. G found if she pushes the start button again, it stops the washing machine. So make sure you let your kid know to only push the button ONE time to get it going!
- Push clothes into the washer. This simple repetitious action is an opportunity to teach little ones about clothing items and possession. We often talk about each piece of laundry going into the washing machine. “This is Daddy’s shirt, these are Mama’s jeans.”
- Put wet clothes in the dryer. Reinforce young one’s understanding of wet and dry during this part of the process.
- Push laundry basket with clean clothes into another room. A gross motor activity that every kid finds fun to do!
- Stir ingredients for dinner. Put a bowl in a place that is easy to reach. And help him stir by keeping your hand on the utensil as your tot places his hand on the utensil too.
- Bring plate to the sink after meals. This is the first step of learning to clear the table at the end of a meal.
- Climb into her chair at the dinner table and get buckled in. Once she is able to do this, make sure to celebrate! Our little one says, “No pinchies!” after she successfully accomplishes this task.
- Throw away diapers and other small trash. Learning what we throw away and where can start with diapers. Walking with little ones to the trash can and helping them to drop in diapers, is so simple and can be a big help with exhausted parents!
- Pick up the newspaper and deliver it to Daddy. Our little one LOVES this chore, she gets to go outside while helping!
- Sort clothes with Mama’s help. Teaching colors and sorting concepts is so easy when you involve your little one in this chore.
- Put dirty clothes in the hamper. This is a good once a day chore (in the morning or in the evening) as part of getting dressed.
- Stack books and put on bookshelves or in bins. We have LOTS of books and some serious book lovers. This task is absolutely necessary a few times a day. The repetitious nature of this chore is something little ones love doing!
- Scrub the toilet. This chore also requires constant supervision. And you may have to go in behind them and make sure the toilet is actually clean, but kids love to do this chore!
- Wipe up small spills. Giving your little one a cloth and helping her to clean up small spills is so important for helping them make the connection between cause and effect. “Oops, I spilled my drink. Now I have to clean it up!”
- Dust the baseboards with a duster. What child doesn’t love a duster? Help direct that enthusiasm toward the baseboards and you won’t have to do it as often!
- Help Mama run the vacuum across the floor. Some babies are not fond of the vacuum cleaner. Pick little ones up and hold them while you run the vacuum to help them get used to the loud machine. Then as they get used to it, they can take hold of the handle and pull back and forth with you.
- Hold the dustpan still so Daddy can sweep crumbs into it. Kid’s gross and fine motor skills are not quite ready for sweeping effectively, but they can still help with picking up crumbs off the floor.
- Clean up toys at the end of the day. We sing the “Clean up” song to motivate our little ones in this process. We take W’s hands and help her clean up and put into the toy bins we have.
- Make up her bed in the morning. This may be as simple as folding one blanket and putting it at the end of the bed while your little one puts all his stuffed animals back on the bed.
- Push chair in at the dining table after meals. Making this a habit takes time, but it is a simple task that helps make things look neater immediately.
- Use a lint roller to pick up small pieces of lint on soft surfaces. This is really just for fun, but it helps teach a fine motor skill while getting the soft surface clean.
As I stop and look at this list and I am amazed at what my kids are able to accomplish! Little things go a long way to help keep our household running smoothly. I know my girls really feel big and worthy when they accomplish these small things!
More Little Laundry Helpers
I was so excited when I was given the opportunity from Proctor and Gamble to add Tide Pods and Gain Flings to our laundry routine. I knew that my oldest (G – 2.5 years) would love being able to toss the laundry detergent into the washing machine. We got a box of samples and we set to work on the laundry. The results were wonderful!
It is so neat that the tiny laundry tabs can really get my laundry clean. They are another tool in my kit to help make homemaking easier: Just toss in to the drum, add laundry, and push start!
And G loves the smell of fresh laundry! She has a tendency to take each piece of laundry and smell it. I am not usually a fan of the Gain scent, but I really liked the new scent of the new Gain Flings. And I always love the smell of the classic Tide found in the Tide Pods – it smells so clean and fresh!
What little things do you do in your routine that make a big difference for your life? Any tips for making homemaking with kids easy? Please share here and I will tweet out some of my favorites!