We like to involve our toddler in as many aspects of our lives as makes sense. As a 1 year old, he does things like:
- help set the table by carrying utensils and plates from the kitchen to the table (in an adjoining room).
- wipe up spills, especially if he caused them.
- put things away after using them (toys into their basket, books onto the shelf, household items).
- wash vegetables.
- put groceries away after we buy them and bring them home.
- help carry laundry to the washing machine and put clothes into the washing machine (or take them out and put them into the laundry basket after they’ve been washed).
- sweep or vacuum.
- take out a wash cloth from the cupboard so that we can wipe/wash his face in the morning, then close the cupboard.
- throw garbage away (although he likes to take clean tissues out of the box and throw those away too).
- help empty the dishwasher,
- weed the garden and water the garden.
Someone asked me one day, “do you give your toddler chores?” I had to sit back and think about that, even ask for clarification, “can you explain what you mean?” because I had never really thought of these activities as chores. They’re just things that we do to help our household run smoothly and everyone does their part to help us achieve some end goal as a family (whether it be enjoying a meal together, maintaining a clean house, growing a garden).
Whether it be due to some combination of his personality and our mentality, he genuinely seems to enjoy helping us and shows pride in accomplishing things on his own. He observes us and likes to show us that he too can play his part. It is really amazing watching him pick up these skills…and I like to think of it as a little investment into our future. By having him participate early on, he’ll both know how to do things around the house (useful lifelong skill) and he’ll be accustomed to doing them as a member of our family. Maybe one day, he’ll ask if he can get paid for doing chores. A bridge we will cross if and when the time comes.
So to respond to that person who asked me if our toddler does chores, I said “our toddler loves to help us do things around the house”. After all, if you call it a chore, doesn’t it just become a chore?