Ten Tasks My 22-Month-Old Can Do

June 5, 2012

One of the things that Bart and I marvel at constantly about a child is how they have no interest in the things that we would DIE for (a daily two-hour nap? Sign me up) and are desperate to do things that, as an adult, have long since lost their charms.

Which means it is not very hard to put Ella to work. I want her to see work as just a regular part of our lives, not something really tedious or horrifying. I also try not to give her tasks that are too difficult because I don’t want to overwhelm her. I’ve been surprised, though, by how much she is capable of doing even at not-quite two years old.

  1. Watering the plants – I have about seven potted plants on our balcony and so while I do the dishes, I fill up a large yogurt container of water and send her out to water them. Because it’s outdoors, it doesn’t matter if she spills, and she’s gotten really good at holding the leaves aside to pour right into the dirt.
  2. Putting the silverware away – I take out all the sharp knives and dangerous items, then put the silverware basket on the dishwasher door alongside our silverware holder from the drawer. She sorts them into the proper slots and gives me anything that belongs elsewhere (like spatulas or measuring spoons). 
  3. Helping with laundry – She loves to pour the soup into the washer, put clothing in the dryer (when I pull it out of the washer and hand it to her), clean out the lint, put in the dryer sheet, and finally slam the dryer door shut. It’s pretty obvious she likes the slamming most. 
  4. Cleaning the bathroom mirrors – She sprays the Windex and I wipe down the mirror.
  5. Putting her clothing in the hamper – When she gets dressed in the morning and then for bed, she is responsible for putting her clothing in the dirty clothes hamper. We have this mega-cheap one from IKEA with no lid, so she can easily put things in by herself.
  6. Setting her own place at the table – I keep all her dishes in a low cupboard, so she can reach them and she gets her own plate, bowl, and cup for each meal. The napkins are also in a low drawer, so she gets one for each family member before each meal (although they end up kind of crumpled, rather than folded, but we aren’t picky).
  7. Putting books away – We do a lot of reading in our family and mainly I like to read on the couch or the bed, so by the end of the day, there are usually several piles of books scattered around the house. She doesn’t have the strength yet to put the books back on the shelves (because she can’t hold up the leaning books with one hand), but she brings all the books from around the house to me so I can put them away. 
  8. Throwing her diapers away – after a diaper change, she takes her diapers into the bathroom and throws them into the open garbage can in there. 
  9. Helping make my bed – I am an avid bed maker (I cannot remember one day in the last fifteen years that I have not made my bed), and Ella gathers up the pillows and heaves them onto the bed while I do the sheets and comforter part of the bed-making.
  10. Putting her shoes away – We keep her shoes on the top of her (low) bookcase, so she can reach them and whenever we come home and she wants her shoes off, she is responsible for returning them to their little home. It’s great because I can also tell her to go get shoes on and she’ll do it. I also like to ask her to put MY shoes away too. 

Any chore you have your small child help with? I’ll take all the child labor I can squeeze out of one twenty-pound girl.


As you may have noticed, I don’t write loads about Ella on my blog. So I’m really excited about a new place to write more about her and my parenting escapades. This post is sponsored by Disney Baby. I’ll be joining the Disney Baby blogging
team next month, and look forward to sharing these kinds of stories
(projects/ideas/etc) with you over there! Stay tuned for more details.

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  • Reply Karen June 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Wow. I am impressed. You have done a great job finding ways that Ella can help, and have made it a natural part of your everyday life. Kids love to be part of things and to do something useful. Keep up the good work! (And now I am going to be trying to think of ways that I can apply your ideas with my grandchildren.)

  • Reply Jenny June 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    This is great. She doesn't even know she's working. It's probably all FUN to her at this stage, which is a great way to start life. Our oldest has never stopped working, and that's how he loves to spend his time. (Sometimes we do have to remind him to stop working and play for a little bit)

  • Reply Shelly June 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Great post, that is cool that you have her help with so many things. Now's the perfect time for her to learn about everyday chores because she is still at an age where it is fun. My two-year old loves to put soap in the dishwasher and start it and she also loves to help with simple cooking tasks like mixing.

  • Reply Señora H-B June 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    What fantastic ideas!

  • Reply Merrick June 5, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Wow, congratulations for writing for Disney baby! And I love thIs list…we do many of these with Peanut too. Obviously we grew up in the same home where doing chores was just part of the deal.

  • Reply Erica June 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    That's so exciting that you are writing for Disney baby! I actually love reading this posts, so I will most definitely be reading your posts over there.

    • Reply Erica June 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      Also, child labor rules.

  • Reply Madeline June 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    This is a great list. Your girl is doing things I wouldnt have thought to let her do.

    And congrats on Disney Baby!!!

  • Reply Rachel June 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Oh my gosh, I love it! Jilly's pretty good at helping to clean up her toys and clothes, but helping put the dishes away- brilliant! Thanks for the great ideas.

  • Reply emandtrev June 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    I am having a total "duh!!" moment. Is it bad that I've never thought of pulling the utensil organizer out of the door so my kids can help with that task without being up on a stool?! My three-year-old always wants to help with that!

    Most of my chores are the same as yours. My six- and three-year-old also like to dust. And water the garden. 🙂

    How very cool about Disney Baby! I will be sure to check it out.

  • Reply Erin Gong June 5, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Love it – the silverware drawer is genious. I'm inspired to put Genghis to work more. He loves getting assignments to help around the house.

  • Reply His Little Lady June 5, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    aw, she is absolutely adorable!!! mommy's little helper!
    xo TJ

  • Reply Rachel June 5, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Fun Fact – while you were peeking the pic of me and my bear I was checking out your blog! jinx!

  • Reply Jenny June 5, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    This makes me happy! It seems like parents never make their kids do anything these days and as a result, they don't ever learn how to work.

  • Reply Sarah June 5, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    My almost-3-year-old also helps me sort laundry (whites/darks), matches clean socks while we're folding laundry, tears lettuce for salads and helps to spin off the water, dumps ingredients into mixing bowls, sweeps up dirt piles with a hand broom while I hold the dustpan, dusts the car interior while we're detailing, and loves to swish the toilet brush around in the bowl.
    …just to add a few more ideas =)

  • Reply Packrat June 5, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Good for you! (And, Ella, of course.) It makes my blood boil when someone says, "Oh, we can't make him/her do that! She/he is only ___." Usually, the person speaking is talking about a ten year old who can't even make his own peanut butter sandwich. Or, even worse, is my friend who after doing all the laundry even folds and puts away her 16 year old twins clothes. GRRRR

  • Reply craftyashley June 5, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    After reading that, I am going to make my kids pull their (all be it minuscule) weight around here! That silverware idea is BRILLIANT. Thanks!

  • Reply Melissa June 6, 2012 at 2:05 am

    I started giving my daughter her "responsibilities" as we call them when she was 10 months. She'd been walking about a month and so she was capable to take her clothes to the hamper (with guidance of course) and throw her diapers away. I also taught her to say "thank you," when I changed her diaper/did anything for her as soon as she could say the words. It's totally paid off. As a three year old she is now in charge of many things around the house and she loves it. Although sometimes it's more work and time for me, in the long run it is great.

  • Reply Tracy June 6, 2012 at 2:18 am

    thanks for this!

  • Reply megan June 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Hmm… food for thought for my 9 and 5 year old boys that don't do very many chores anymore. They used to like to help with tasks like some of those. I guess I have gotten lazy in applying simple tasks to their lives, but I will correct that because it will make my life easier.


  • Reply Tina Peterson April 11, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    I own a very small daycare in my home and one thing I've noticed is how much kids LOVE to help me. From my 16 mo who puts her coat in her cubby, loves to dust and just discovered the broom and finds lint & strings thru out the house (drives me nuts!!!) To my 7 year old who after a major wind & rain storm 2 summers ago walked thru 3 yards picking up debris & sticks for neighbors who were at work. We put them in neat piles for them to pick up. It took myself & 2 neighbors to talk him into quitting so we could go get something to eat at Wendy's (we had no power) and a former daycare child who at 9 loved to help shovel my and a neighbors drives because her parents never let her help shovel! Kids love to help & we are doing a huge disservice not letting them do it & I can't imagine telling them no when they offer to help (specially since I'm not the greatest housekeeper)!

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