Encouraging Young Toddlers to Help with Chores

Something I've really struggled with is figuring out how to get household chores done with a toddler running around underfoot, and making chores fun and not drudgery for myself and my kids. (Because who wants to do chores?) A few months ago my husband suggested having Daniel actively assist me in chores during the day, and that has made a huge difference in the amount of stress I was dealing with from not getting anything done. Sure, it might take me a little longer, and it might be less efficient, but he is learning to help around the house, and I'm actually getting stuff done now! (also, my husband does help with some chores, which is awesome because he lives here too!) 

Here's a short list of chores that Daniel participates in and how we actually get them finished. These are some great ideas for younger toddlers (1 - 1 1/2). 

  • Dishes - unloading + putting away
    Daniel LOVES unloading the bottom half of the dishwasher. This is probably his #1 favorite kitchen chore! He hands me each dish, and I put them away. I do remove all the glassware before we get started, so we don't have any accidents with broken dishes. Since we use Corelle, I don't have to worry if he drops a plate on the tile. Recently I've started having him empty the silverware (remove the knives first!) and put away his own plastic dishes - we keep these in open bins in the bottom of the island so he can play with them and sort them whenever he wants.  
  • Laundry - sorting + pushing the laundry basket
    Laundry is a fun chore, but folding is really far down the road! Daniel likes to "help" sort the laundry. I say help loosely because he mostly enjoys throwing the laundry into the wrong basket, or climbing in the basket and covering himself with the laundry. But at least he has fun! He also enjoys pushing the baskets down the hall so I can take them downstairs. 
  • Cleaning the bathroom counter top
    This is a new one! I used to always save cleaning the bathroom for when Daniel was napping or busily occupied, but since I switched to using Norwex and essential oils for cleaning, I feel like its a lot safer for him to help since there are no harsh chemicals involved. I usually give him his own mini Norwex cloth and spray bottle, and he loves wiping off the bathroom countertop while I clean everything else. 
  • Vacuuming
    For Christmas we got Daniel his own mini vacuum cleaner at a kids consignment store for $8. WHAT A STEAL! Not only does it provide hours of entertainment, but whenever I pull out the big vacuum, he runs for his little one and follows me around while I clean the floors. So much fun!
    *UPDATE* - he is now obsessed with the big vacuum and has figured out how to turn it on by himself. OH DEAR. 
  • Dusting
    Dusting is just like cleaning the bathroom. I have two Norwex dust mitts, and he gets one to dust everything down low while I dust everything up high. He definitely isn't as interested in dusting as other things.
  • Putting toys away
    We are really working on this one! Slowly making toy pickup non-negotiable, but if everything doesn't get put away by bedtime, it's okay. Sometimes he will just do it when I ask, but other times (especially if there is a big mess) he won't do it unless I help him. We also sing a little song he learned at music class when putting toys away, which makes it WAY more fun. :D
  • Cooking - "helping" + watching
    Cooking and being in the kitchen is probably going to be a big part of my son's life (hello future Iron Chef?). He insists on getting to "help" make meals. We pull up a chair to the counter and give him his own tools (whisk, bowls, spoons, measuring cups, etc.) and a little of the ingredients of whatever we are making. This has been a great way to introduce him to new flavors and foods that he probably wouldn't try at the dinner table. Some of our favorites are tiny amounts of flour and herbs/spices, a tablespoon or so of water or milk, and chopped up veggies (except onion!). 
  • Washing Dishes + Sink Time
    Another favorite in our house, right now Daniel asks for "sink!" multiple times a day! I pull up a chair, strip his clothes off, plug the sink, and put on a very slow trickle of water. He gets to play with his plastic dishes and spatulas in the water. This is a great activity for winter time or if your child is really into pouring or just playing in the water. If he asks for bubbles I will put in a tiny bit of Babyganics Organic Bottle Soap, in case he decides to drink the water. 

What are some successful ways you have introduced household chores to your little ones? Leave a comment below!