Montessori parenting is great, we already implement a floor bed for Gregory in his Montessori bedroom and it’s been amazing. I love how it teaches a parent to remember that the real life everyday skills we adults use are also great learning moments for Littles.
I enjoy letting Gregory help me with my daily chores. Because
- I know where he is and what he’s doing while I tidy.
- I’m not ignoring him, I’m having an opportunity to interact with him.
- He learns right from the get-go that things don’t just magically happen, they require someone in the world to put in time and effort.
- They entertain him, Gregory is allowed to stay and help for as long as he pleases.
There are many ways your toddler can help you out around the house. Here are 10 ways Gregory helps me out around our RAD house.Check out these 10 chores that toddlers can help out with around the house. Perfect to teach life skills Click To Tweet
I used to just give Gregory a Swiffer broom to use as I swept with a regular one. It was perfect because the handle could be shortened and suited his height better than any tall broom. Trust me when I say, you don’t want to be in the room while your toddler uses a full size broom to sweep. You are in the Danger Zone!
While I was in a thrift store one day I saw a little pink kid size broom, perfect for Gregory. It was only a few dollars, so I snatched it up.
- Sorting : Dump your dirty laundry on the floor and have two laundry baskets. One for lights, one for darks… and maybe any extra like delicates, towels/linens, cleaning rags, etc. While you sort through, let your child help. Talk about the colours and let let them throw the dirty garment into the basket. They love that.
RAD TIP: When using two laundry baskets to sort your light clothes from dark, consider having a white laundry basket for your lights, and a colour basket for your darks. I have a white basket and dark green so Gregory can better identify where each colour goes. He is learning how to match colours.
- Loading : The Bean helps push the laundry basket through the house to the laundry area, showing mommy how strong he is. Then he loves to help pick up the laundry and reach higher than he can see and put it into the top loading washer. What a guy! Don’t worry, he gets a free ride back in the basket & donut spins through the house as payment for he service.
- Folding : Gregory helps unloading from the dryer to basket (from mommy’s hands to basket) and then push the basket back into the folding area. Once here we begin the folding/ hanging of clothes process. It can take much longer than if I did it alone, but this is more fun. I sometimes ask him to help me find the socks, then we try and find the pairs once we have a pile. Or I ask to find the small towels so we can put them in the drawer. I’ll put clothes on a hanger and allow Gregory to hang his on the lowered hanging rack in the clothes closet. It can take several attempts, and sometimes a rescue from mom, to put the hanger on the rod, but when he lets go and it is hanging we both laugh and cheer and I see his sense of accomplishment that everyone should have the ability to experience as much as possible in life. We all need that sort of positivity.
3. Garbage/ Recycle/ Returnables
When it is time for the garbage to be taken out I like to let Gregory walk out to the garbage cans with me. They are at the back of the house and the chance to go outside and explore an area we don’t normally see on the daily is quite the field trip for him.
When I need to bring the recycle outside and sort into our bin and paper bag, I like to let Gregory stand, watch and help if he chooses to do so. I explain we need to sort and recycle so we protect our trees and Mother Earth. I’m sure he doesn’t fully grasp what I’m saying, but the fact that he’s being exposed is what matters.
Returnables like Pop cans, bottles and juice boxes can bring bag some loose change to a small fortune. Depending on how much your family likes to consume from returnable containers. It’s always an adventure when we return bottles. If we have lots, I like to do a pre-sort at home to save time being at the (potentially bee-infested) bottle depot. I sort alcohol/pop, cans/bottles/plastic & tetra. Then we load up the car and go on a field trip to the Return It Depot.
Gregory loves carrying a bag of returnables and getting to pull them out of the bag. Placing them on the cardboard trays required for counting can take a while, but don’t think that you’re annoying other customers. Most people find it really adorable to see such a young person caring for the environment. Granted, I don’t go at peak times during the week, so I don’t deal with impatient people. We usually use the money we got back and go on a Train Ride on the weekend.
Vacuums can sometimes scare kids. The loud noise and big machine is scary when it is bigger and potentially heavier than you. Let your Little go to the closet and get the vacuum out and bring it to the room with you. Them seeing that it can’t move without you is good. Let them explore the parts while the machine if off; push the vacuum and pull out the hose. Let them know you’re going to turn on the machine, and to plug their ears or stand aside.
At this point Gregory used to run into another room. I’d see him peaking from the doorway after a few moments and I’d smile and stop moving the vacuum. “Would you like to to push the vacuum?” I ask. And his face lights up 9 times out of ten and he runs over to help. He helps, learns how to conquer his fear and learns that someone has to clean the rugs when we get them dirty.
We’ve now got a little toy vacuum just Gregory’s size. He helps clean all the rooms in the house while I clean and it makes doing chores so much more bearable for me.
5. Wiping things Down
Let me first say that I never let Gregory touch chemical cleaners. If you’re interested in a natural cleaner try this vinegar cleaner. If you’re not interested in the strong smell of vinegar in your house, try this version without vinegar.
If you haven’t caught on by now, Gregory loves helping and doing things just like mom. When it comes time to wipe down our kitchen table, chairs, cupboards, floors, bathroom, baseboards and dust the house, I hand Gregory his own cleaning rag and let him join in. When he gets upset that I don’t let him wipe the chemical cleaners, we compromise by having me wipe the cleaner, and him dry the surface after. Then his cloth gets a little damp as well and he can actually see his hard work.
I love that this teaches him when we spill things, we wipe it up. And I try to have him help me wipe it up right away. We’ve gotten to the point where when something is spilled, he’ll run to the drawer I’ve designated for cleaning rags and grabs several. Bringing them over and automatically helping clean. AS LONG AS I don’t make a big deal about the spill. This is key. Whether it was me, him, dad, the cat, or something that was bumped by another object we touched, don’t blame a person for the spill.
It is completely acceptable to exclaim “OH NO! A Spill”. Some phrases that are unacceptable “Gregory! Look what you did!” or “A spill, you’re so clumsy! I’m so upset with you”. Why would I say that? That’ll make my son cower and fear me as I berate him. He’s already upset he spilled his drink, he was going to drink that cup of deliciousness before wasting it any day I am sure.
When I instead follow up my ‘oh no, a spill’ with a fervent “HURRY! Help me get the rags and clean it up before it spreads everywhere!” there is a rush of excitement and high energy that fills the air as we scramble to get something to dry the liquid up. This is much more positive and productive than berating him for a fumble of his still-new-to-this-world-and-learning-how-to-fully-operate limbs.
6. Tidying Up
When a mess is made, it needs to be cleaned up at the end of the day at the very latest in my house. I understand and respect that play is kids work, but momma likes a ship shape house. At the very start of our bedtime routine I glance around the house and if it’s messy, I ask him to help me put things back where they belong.
Sometimes he’ll say no to helping, it can take a few moments before he realizes that I’ll still be cleaning whether he helps me or not. I’m not usually in the mood to force my son to help me at the end of the night. I’m exhausted and don’t want to start an argument that’ll prolong him calming down for sleep.
You know what though? It doesn’t take but a few minutes before Gregory realizes that I’ll still be cleaning up whether he helps me or not. Children are very perceptive. He knows we’ve started our bedtime routine, as per the bedtime alarm that goes off. And he’s waiting get his bedtime treat (daily vitamin, it’s a gummy bear ‘treat’ haha).
Children are perceptive and also problem solvers! Gregory quickly realizes that if he helps, it’ll get done faster, and he can have his treat. That, or he remembers that someone has to clean up the mess, the main point I’ve been noting throughout this post.
I have to be very direct with how I need my toddler to help me when he decides to join in on the Tidying spree before bed. I’ll ask him to pick up his books and help me stack them where the books go. Or put his dress-up clothes in the box. His bowling pins and balls in the basket, the laundry in the hampers, pillows on the couch. It helps to have designated spots that he can access for his toys. The bigger tasks I complete while he runs a doll or stuffed animal to the shelf in his room.
We always high five and hug at the end. I ALWAYS say ‘Thank you! I appreciate you helping me” At the end. He beams at me and he races to start the next task on our bedtime routine that he knows so well.
7. Cleaning out the Car
Inside and outside of the car need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Why not make an event of it? Have a car wash day, let your Little help with their own sponge and soapy water bucket. Or let them help aim the hose and rinse down the car.
When it comes time to clean inside the car I open the door and let Gregory climb into the back seat as I start collecting the garbage. He’ll either help, or start exploring the vehicle. Remember, children are usually strapped down as soon as they enter the vehicle. Or, at least mine is. He is allowed to climb everywhere when we clean up. Look into all the compartments he can get in to, change as many seats as he wishes, honk the horn once or twice and it’s really just a whole adventure for him.
Turning on the hose and drinking water from it. That’s how I grew up outside in the summer. The first time I brought Gregory outside to fill a little kiddie pool with water, he tried to drink water from the hose all on his own. I knew he’s a natural nature boy and gardening is a perfect activity for any nature enthusiast.
I take my Little outside to water the plants, garden and then pick the vegetables before we cook them. He’s been helping me grow them from seeds, and as the fruit & veg come in he gets more and more excited to point out the colours and food to me. We also keep an eye out for bugs and other critters while we garden.
9. Feeding the Pets
Gregory gets to turn on the fish tank light every morning in the living room. I asked Mr. Radhuber to move his fish tank from the office to a lower table in a room Gregory can access. After some coaxing, he agreed and hasn’t looked back. Now we all enjoy watching the fish, we got to go buy some new fish together, and Gregory gets to feed the fish every morning after turning on the light.
When it comes time to feed our cat, I like to involve Gregory in the process as well. Charlie doesn’t like Gregory very much, never has. I know Gregory can be overly energetic, but that’s just cause he lurves her. So I feed Charlie and always hand Gregory a small handful of treats while I prepare her dishes. Gregory is now learning he needs to be still, calm and let Charlie come to him slowly by leaving a trail of treats.
He also will hold onto some treats and wait until she’s sitting at her food mat eating and gently pet her. By this point she is usually wearisome of him, but more hungry and intent on eating. I remind him to be gentle and he’ll sometimes just sit and laugh beside her, watching her eat. This connection is slowly making our cat more tolerant and Gregory gets to help me feed the pets. Try letting your Little help feed your pets, fish, cat, dog, bird, rabbit, chickens… they’ll really enjoy the interaction with the animal.
10. Grocery Shopping
Toddlers can be tough during outings. So make your outing a routine as often as possible, children thrive on routines. On Mondays Gregory and I go grocery shopping, and make any other stops we need to gather supplies for the week. It’s sometimes an all day event and we start in the morning.
Prepping for a Shop
After getting breakfast and waking up a little, I start off in the fridge tossing any old food. Gregory helps by holding the door open, or the garbage bag. I like to show that we separate the garbage from the compost- or food we no longer want to eat cause it is YUCKY. This is also a great addition to #3 actually.
Then Gregory and I go through the kitchen cupboards and freezer and fridge and see what we’re going to make for the week. Meal planning can be tough, we’re still trying to lock down a system that works for us. I do have a rough idea of what I want to buy for us to eat for the week and write that down. As I try to remember if we have small oranges, or cheese strings, or rice, Gregory will run and look for me shouting “YA!” or “nononono” which is super cute and helps me enjoy the meal planning process more.
When I shop, I give Gregory the option to sit in the strapped seat in the cart, the big area (I know they say not to, I tell him to sit on his bum or he gets strapped in. He knows the deal), or he can walk around. Depending on his energy level and mood, he generally decides to walk. Which is fine by me, it only makes him more tired as a result of exerting tons of energy before nap time.
When my toddler walks the store it can be difficult to keep control of him, unless I have him help me shop. I’ve already got a list, so I let him know what we need.
“We need Eggs, salad, oranges, melon… Let’s go get some oranges. Can you find the oranges?” And off he goes to find the oranges. Or whatever it is we need. I’ll help and guide him sometimes, “let’s look over here” or “We’ve got to go this way to the freezer aisle to get frozen peas” and I’ll get a response of “OH!” and a big giggle as if he knew this already and was just being a silly goose.
After locating our items I’ll let Gregory put it in the cart or basket. Again, I’ll help if needed. If the item is heavy, or can break, or will break something else, and I’ll say to my Little “I’m just helping, just a little” and there is no fuss from him. The goal is have him feel like he is doing it, he’s shopping and helping and making executive decisions over the food we’re eating. Whether it’s smelling the different mangos, or checking weight and tapping the watermelons, Gregory is involved in the process.
Honestly, that is going to be my biggest tip if you’ve got a picky eater, or a child who hates grocery shopping. Letting your child in on the process of food prep starts with planning and purchasing the food. Create healthy food relationships with your children so they grow up healthy and happy without negative food associations that can lead to eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
The Tip Once More
Let your children in on the shopping experience, including walking the grocery store and picking out the best food options available to you. Smell, tap and squeeze the fruit and vegetables together to create healthy food relationships before you even think about putting it into their mouth.
Putting Food Away
Lastly, when we get home from shopping, Gregory likes to try and carry in a bag full of food. Oh, did I mention he’s on bag duty? He carries the empty reusebale bags from the house to car, car to cart, and then helps stuff and store the bags when we’re done using them.
Once all the bags are inside, we unload them together. He’ll pull out the box of macaroni and set it on the floor in a big chaotic pile of food. The process, like everything else, is extended time-wise. But the experience and quality time together is what is important. Gregory helps me open the fridge and load in the fruit, he’ll pass me our dry goods and I’ll put them in the high cupboards, and he’ll help me with chore #3.
All Them Chores are DONE
So there you have it. 10 Chores your Toddler can help you with. This isn’t child labour, unless it’s a labour of love. As I just said, everything will take much longer when you have your Little help you. But the chore doesn’t need to be done perfectly, or in 2 minutes flat. Chores can wait, you need to enjoy your children and live in the present. But if you’re like me, you want to do both. This is how we do that.
Focus on the interaction with your child first, not your chore. The chore will get done eventually, it’ll get done, I promise. So enjoy your child, talk with them, laugh, play, make things a game and fun. As a stay at home mom I can often find myself feeling overwhelmed with housework and feeling the need to be a better and more attentive mom. I mean, that’s the job. Now I can do both and not feel like I am slacking in one aspect.
Plus, it fills our day. I mean, I might have super awesome Sensory Play ideas, and we may go on adventures and hikes to waterfalls and Snow Walls. But we don’t do those things everyday. Be realistic. These are everyday activities that we partake in. They fill our days with joy and a sense of accomplishment.
Before You Go
Try out some of these chores with your Little and let me know how it goes. Also, if you have any chores I haven’t listed and a way your child helps, let me know in the comments. Sharing is caring, and I’d love a few pointers from moms who had some RAD ideas of their own,