Jackson is 16 months old now and has been doing little chores since shortly after he started walking at 13 months. People are always shocked that I would have him regularly doing “chores,” but the reality is that he loves helping out and he is always so proud when I cheer him on after getting something done on his own.
Jackson’s current favorite is to help make dinner!
So, how did we get started and what does he do? Right now, here are the chores Jackson helps out with on a daily basis:
1) Putting his clothes away. When we change Jackson out of his pajamas in the morning or back into them at the end of the day, he always takes his dirty clothes and puts them in the hamper. It only took me once or twice of showing him how to do this before he was doing it on his own almost every time. Sometimes if he’s excited to go take a bath I have to remind him, but for the most part he remembers on his own to go grab his clothes and toss them in the dirty clothes basket in the corner of his room as soon as we take them off. I just have to keep an eye on any clean clothes that happen to be laying around in his room, because they’ll often get tossed in there too! He’s in the process of learning how to put his shoes and clean clothes where they belong as well.
2) Throwing away dirty diapers and other trash. Any time I change his diaper on the floor (which is frequently), I hand him the diaper afterwards and he runs to the trash can to throw it away. It took him a little while to learn that it’s okay to put trash in the trash can in his room and the one in the kitchen, and of course we have to make sure he doesn’t throw anything else away (like his shoes…or mine!), but he’s very good about picking up random trash around the house and taking it to the trash can.
3) Feeding the dogs. This is by far his favorite chore. It’s also the one he needs the most help with right now. We keep our dog food in containers on the pantry floor, so Jackson will very carefully place food into a cup (one piece at a time!) and carry it over to the dog bowls and dump it in. We usually give a lot of support by scooping the food into a cup and handing it to him, then letting him walk it over to the bowls and help him hand-over-hand pour it into the bowls. If we let him do it by himself it’s much messier, but it keeps him nice and occupied for minutes!
4) Putting the dogs in their kennels. This one is really just one that he pretends to help with, but he loves it too! We keep our dogs in kennels when we leave the house, and he will call them to come with him (they don’t usually listen until we call them as well, but he feels like he’s the one doing it!) and helps us close the door and supervises while we lock it. He does the same when we get home – rushes into the garage to wait for us to help open it, then tells us we need to let them “‘side!”
5) Unloading the dishwasher. This one is still very much in the works, but he’s always so interested when I’m loading or unloading the dishwasher that I’ve been trying to capitalize on it and get him involved. He will hand me silverware for me to put up, and if I show him where to put his plates or cups he will carry them over and put them away. Mr. Garland was shocked the other day when I handed Jackson something and told him “go put it in the china cabinet” and he ran over to the cabinet, opened the door, and put it in! They learn so fast at this age! His favorite part of this chore is when we’re done and I finally let him push the drawer in and close the door.
Putting away his pajamas in the morning!
We’re also, of course, working on putting his toys away after he is done playing with them, but at this point he still tends to get distracted and start playing with them again rather than actually cleaning. We’re also working on having him choose his clothes and shoes to wear, being involved and watching while I cook, and any other little tasks around the house where he can help or even just observe. It’s just about the cutest thing in the world to see him running around doing his “chores” and the giant grin he gets when he accomplishes something.
What do you do to engage your toddlers in chores around the house?