“Me help? Me help?” If you’re a mother to a toddler, you are all-too-familiar with this question and your child’s desire to help you with every single task you do each day. Toddlers are innately curious and extremely altruistic – they genuinely get a great deal of joy out of helping others, especially their parents. The trouble arises when toddlers want to help with chores or projects that are not developmentally appropriate for them, usually meaning the chore is dangerous for toddlers, or requires fine/gross motor skills that they simply haven’t mastered yet.
We appreciate a toddler’s desire to help, along with your desire to begin teaching them responsibility with simple chores that they can either complete on their own, or with some adult assistance. We’ve put together our favorite chores that you can begin getting your child involved with in the kitchen and in the rest of the home. These are chores that are age-appropriate, teach important skills, and will help your child develop a sense of responsibility as a member of your home. Grab a chore chart, and get started!
Toddlers love helping in the kitchen, but they can’t safely reach the countertop to help prepare foods or clean up. Toddlers are also innately curious – sometimes to their detriment – and it can be seriously nerve-wracking as you spend more time worrying he/she will fall off the step stool than you do trying to get your child involved in the project.
The Guidecraft Kitchen Helper is an incredible product to have in your home to get children involved in the kitchen. It allows them to reach counter height, without the safety issues that a traditional stepstool (or chair) poses. The Kitchen Helper is easy to assemble, and has three different adjustable heights to accommodate growing children (up to 125 pounds). It’s neutral wood color (also available in white) easily blends in with any decor, and it folds up to be tucked away into a closet or corner of your home when not in use. Two sides of the tower are adorned with a dry erase board and a chalkboard, along with fun circle, square, and star cutouts.
This product is worth its weight in gold when you see your child standing on it, triumphantly able to safely reach the counter for the first time, ready to help you with the day's recipe.
While they won’t be chopping up fruits and vegetables for some time, there are many things toddlers can do to help you cook (and clean up afterwards).
Toddlers adore "DIY food" - think mini pizzas, cookie decorating, or ice cream sundaes. Set up a topping bar on your countertop - put various toppings in a 6-cup muffin tin that your child can select from, and let them spoon out their own sauces and decorate with toppings. Kids love having a sense of control over their environment, and this activity allows them the chance to express their food preferences in a fun way.
Grinding Herbs & Spices
A great way to encourage your child’s emerging motor skills is to ask them to grind whole herbs and spices with a mortar and pestle. This is a popular Montessori activity, and can be a great way to keep your toddler occupied in the kitchen, while they are also contributing to the family’s next meal. This kid-size version of a mortar and pestle is the perfect size for tiny hands.
Cleaning Fruits & Vegetables
Toddlers love playing with water, and by placing the Guidecraft Kitchen Helper in front of the sink, they can help rinse off fresh produce before it’s eaten. This adorable character potato scrubber (and matching vegetable scrubber!) is perfect for toddlers to use to clean vegetables. Encourage your toddler to scrub potatoes so they can see them turn from darker brown to lighter brown, and clean dirt out of the crevices of carrots. Because they can visually see the vegetables getting cleaner, they will be motivated and excited to keep scrubbing.
Toddlers, with some adult assistance, can help measure ingredients when you’re preparing a recipe. This is a great way to help develop emerging math skills, as you can discuss the differences between small and large measuring cups, and even begin discussing concepts like fractions (Really! If a child can count to two, you can teach them that two halves equal one whole!). These kid-friendly measuring cups and measuring spoons are perfect for this task, and your toddler will love the cute faces on them.
That innate curiosity of toddlers that we mentioned before? Well, it can be messy. From food spills at meals, to learning to drink from a big kid cup, to seeing what happens when the contents of a trashcan are dumped on the floor, toddlers can leave a trail of destruction in their wake. If you've ever experienced a toddler desperate to help you with a child-unfriendly activity - from hanging a picture to vacuuming - it can be frustrating for both of you to find a way to get them safely involved. Toddlers are still at an age where they love to help clean up, but their motor skills don't always allow them to clean up or do home projects as effectively (or safely) as an adult, and they end up creating more of a disaster - or, they become frustrated when adult-size cleaning tools are too hard for them to use.
Kid-friendly tools! There are a whole host of toddler-sized tools: some that are pretend, and some that actually work.
Picture Perfect Hanging
Involving your toddler in a project like hanging a framed photo is an incredible way to boost spatial skills and introduce the concept of measurement and numbers. Pull out the Guidecraft Kitchen Helper to help your child reach higher, and ask for their help in measuring the wall, finding the center, and making sure the hanging is level. Have your toddler pretend to drill holes for the picture with this adorable - and realistic - toy power drill. This type of project helps develop hand-eye coordination, spatial skills, and numeracy skills, which is pretty impressive!
Keeping your floors clean is a great kid chore because they can actually see the floors getting cleaner as they sweep or vacuum. This miniature Dyson vacuum actually works to suck up small, lightweight items such as small pieces of paper and dust, and kids love the realistic vacuum sounds it makes. You can make a game out of sweeping with a sweep and mop set, and work on motor skills at the same time. Section off an area of your floor with masking tape, and challenge your toddler to sweep up crumbs into the taped off area.
Give your child a cute bath mitt and ask them to help you dust! The fun of this chore is making a game out of how dirty your toddler can get the bath mitt to become as he/she dusts away. Of course, the dirtier the mitt, the better! If you have two children, they can compete to see who's mitt picked up the most dust and is the grungiest at the end of the task.
With a little planning - and patience - you can really begin involving your toddler in household chores and projects, teaching him or her important skills, responsibility, and what it means to be a part of a family.
Photo credits: Cookies For Breakfast