Family Life

Ten Simple Chores for Toddlers

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 add some easy chores for toddlers to your routine.

I want our children to see work as just a regular part of our lives, not something really tedious or horrifying. I also try not to give them tasks that are too difficult because I don’t want to overwhelm them.

I’ve been surprised, though, by how much even a two-year-old is capable of doing.

And it’s SO cute how proud of themselves they are!

These ten chores for toddlers are simple enough to do on a daily or weekly basis, and help them contribute to the family:

10 chores for toddlers
  1. Watering the plants – I have about seven potted plants and so while I do the dishes, I fill up a container of water and send her to water them.
  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. My toddler sorts them into the proper slots and gives me anything that belongs elsewhere (like spatulas or measuring spoons).
  3. Helping with laundry – My girls have all loved putting 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 they likes the slamming most.
  4. Cleaning the bathroom mirrors – They spray and I wipe down the mirror. Or vica-versa.
  5. Putting clothing in the hamper – When they get dressed in the morning and then for bed, they are responsible for putting  clothing in the dirty clothes hamper. We use all open-top baskets for laundry, so it’s easy for them to toss them in.
  6. Setting places at the table – I keep all the children dishes in a low cupboard, so my girls can reach them and they get their own plate, bowl, and cup for each meal. The napkins are also on a low shelf in the pantry, sothey can get 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. They help collect the books and bring them back to the right shelves or baskets.
  8. Throwing diapers away – This one is pretty explanatory.
  9. Helping make my bed – I am an avid bed maker (I cannot remember more than a handful of days in the last twenty years that I have not made my bed), and my toddler loves to help gather up the pillows and heave them onto the bed while I do the sheets and comforter part of the bed-making.
  10. Putting shoes away – We have a shoe basket in our laundry room, so everyone can reach them and whenever we come home, they are 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 chores for toddlers that have worked well in your home?

Photo by Christie Knight Photography

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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)!

  • Reply Yvan October 23, 2017 at 4:33 am

    That’s a pretty impressive list. 🙂 My 3-year-old just pretty much want to help with everything so I’m still filtering through things she can help with around the house. 🙂

  • Reply April October 23, 2017 at 5:01 am

    My kids are older, but they do all their own laundry now, and clean their own bedroom and bathroom every Sunday morning, set the table and clean up their spaces after dinner. They should probably do more but there’s a lot of kids sports and I’m exhausted and I’m not even the one participating.

  • Reply Allison @ My Novel Life October 23, 2017 at 8:50 am

    I have my four-year-old wipe down the surfaces in the living room (we use vinegar and water in a spray bottle), shake out all of the rugs and collect water glasses (they get left in bedrooms a lot for nighttime hydration). He loves using the spray bottle. My 9-year-old is able to vacuum the bedrooms and empty out all of the little trashcans (bathroom/bedroom). It’s definitely a huge help!

  • Reply Paige Flamm October 23, 2017 at 8:55 am

    These are all awesome ideas! I’m definitely not a chore chart mom (I’ve tried and failed), but my kids really are pretty good about just doing a simple chore when I ask them to, and it’s worked well so far. Kids that can clean up their own toys are basically the best.

  • Reply Marlo October 23, 2017 at 11:34 am

    These are great chores. My youngest loves chores, because she always sees her older sisters doing them, and there is no way she’s going to be left out! She unloads silverwear and plastic plates and bowls for the toddler cupboard and cleans windows too. But her absolute favorite is laundry. I start my girls on underwear, because it’s so easy to fold and then we work up. After my 10 year old, my 4 year old is my best laundry folder. She’ll cheer when she hears it’s time to fold laundry and she can do full loads herself. You can’t make this stuff up! Also, I have my little ones sort recycling. I take the inside bin outside and she separates plastics from paper. In a family of 7, all these kiddos have to work!!

  • Reply Diana October 25, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    I need to be waaaaaaay better about this with our 4 year old! He’ll clear his dishes, help with the dishwasher silverware, and put away his PJs in the morning but I know he could be doing so much more!

  • Reply Links for your Weekend | a glass of milk October 27, 2017 at 10:58 am

    […] steps ahead of me in the parenting game (she has four little girls under her roof). Her post on chores that toddlers can help with gave me a couple of new […]

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