As a stay-at-home mom, days can seem long and overwhelming. Most days I spend with a 2.5-year-old while I try to keep the house in one piece. It’s a daily struggle of mine. The clutter causes me more anxiety so I work harder than I should most days which causes me to neglect time with my daughter so I can load the dishwasher. Then I find myself too exhausted to really play and engage with my daughter. Since I found out I was pregnant, I realized I can’t keep that schedule up. So I decided to invest more into something else. How to teach my daughter to be a good steward of her things.
My daughter Aurora is 2.5 years-old and she has been a big help lately. I first noticed her interest in helping out around the house after she turned 2-years-old. She started by throwing things away in the trash can and putting dishes in the sink. It was cute to see her want to help but I didn’t think much of it. Now, it’s 6 months later and she is helping out in so many ways. Here are some chores you can teach your toddler.
1. Putting their dishes in the sink after each meal.
This is an easy one. Honestly, a child on the later side of one-year-old could start doing this simple chore. After every meal, Aurora takes her cup and plate to the sink where I can wash it. She feels like such a big girl and it gives me one less dish to pick up after meals.
2. Unloading the dishwasher.
This chore has become a new-found excitement for my daughter. At first it was kind of annoying because she was unloading dishes faster than I could put them up. I would tell her to go play but she would cry her littles eyes out because she wanted to help me. I took advantage of the time with her and decided to give her a chance. Now, she hands me dishes and I put them up. Yes, I even let her handle breakable dishes. Unless it’s a special dish I don’t freak out about it possibly breaking. To me, teaching my child responsibilities is more important than dishes. Tip: make sure to grab sharp knives out of the dishwasher before letting your kiddo help.
3. Picking up toys.
This chore is probably the biggest one for me. I hated constantly picking up toys three times a day just to do it again tomorrow. As my belly has grown I have had less energy to bend over. Now, I sit down and direct my daughter on how to clean her toys. I’m not going to lie, this took a good week or so to work on with my daughter. The first time it took her about 45 minutes to pick up a handful of toys. The next day, the task took less time. Parents, this will change your life if you really spend some time helping your kids learn how to pick up after themselves. My daughter has to pick up her toys after she plays with them. She also cleans them up before bed. One way I motivate her is to say, “Mommy needs help. Can you clean up with me?” I still guide her a little but she loves being my big helper.
4. Feeding the pets.
One day Aurora wanted to pour the dog food into bowls so I decided to see how she would do. She did great. Now, she feeds the dogs in the morning and at dinner. Often times she even reminds me of her special chore. This also helps develop motor skills.
5. Sweeping/mopping/vacuuming floors.
This chore I’m still working on. We bought her a Melissa and Doug cleaning set that she usually plays with but sometimes uses for real messes. My daughter is a little on the shorter side so it’s hard for her to use them sometimes, but she is getting there. At this point she mostly cleans messes up by wiping them up with a towel. It can be when she accidentally spills something on the floor or when she throws a tantrum and causes a mess. Either way, she cleans up after herself. Parents, I would not make a big deal out of messes when they are on accident. Just teach your child accidents happen and they can be cleaned up. A child doesn’t need to feel more anxious than they already do.
Other chore ideas for older toddlers.
- Making their own bed
- Brushing their teeth
- Help fold laundry
- Put up laundry
- Help move laundry to dryer
- Load dishwasher/wash dishes by hand
- Help prepare meals
- Set the table
- Wipe the table
- Clean windows
I’m a firm believer that teaching our kids to do household chores will not only help with development, responsibility and appreciation. But it will also help us moms or dads relieve some stress. Yes, teaching some of these chores will be an investment for a few weeks but just think about all the other weeks you get help. The best part is they are so excited to be a part of it. Take advantage now because once they hit pre-teen age you’ll be fighting them to wash a dish.
Another great thing is teaching our kids how to take care of what they have. If they are constantly leaving a mess for you to clean, throwing toys around, destroying things then they will never learn the value of what they have. They will always want something else. This teaches them to respect what God has given them. To be good stewards of their possessions so maybe one day they can pass them down to a child that has less than they do.
I hope these tips help you feel less stressed. Parents, invest and don’t forget to encourage your kiddos and thank them for helping with the mess. We wish our kids would say thank you so why shouldn’t we teach them that as well?