Here is a small list of do-able chores for the smallest members of the family!
1. Emptying the dishwasher – He helps mainly with the silverware. He can’t reach the drawer to put it away properly, but he stands next to the dishwasher and hands me the utensils one by one. This is tedious and takes 10X as long as it would if I did it myself, but he is proud of himself for helping, and I want to encourage him to find “helping” joyous! When he is a little older, I will take the silverware organizer from the drawer and put it on the floor to teaching him how to sort it as he puts it away.
2. Laundry – Little Man loves helping with laundry. Sometimes I pull a chair over to the washer and let him throw the dirty clothes in. More often, he gets the job of pulling the clothing out of the dryer while I fold (He usually gets a ride in the laundry basket too).
3. Putting diapers away – We cloth diaper, so after I fold the diapers he carries them all to the baskets under the changing table and puts them inside.
4. Cleaning up toys – I’ll be honest, I clean up the majority of his toys. He gets overwhelmed because he makes such big messes! But when he gets his special closet toys out, or his train set, any “set” of toys, he is responsible for cleaning it up. I usually have to help him still, because it will be too much for him to do all on his own, but he does a lot of the work, and because we have been working on it so much, he is starting to remember to pick things up without being asked!
Sometimes he doesn’t want to help, and I don’t force him. At this age I’m more focusing on teaching him how to help, and showing him how fun helping can be. Praising him thoroughly for everything he tries to help with and telling him what a “big helper” he is. I often praise him to daddy at the end of the day, explaining all the good and helpful things he did, and daddy then encourages him too.
I’m not sure when I will start making chores (or whatever they should be called) an official requirement, but for now this is our loose system.
What about you? Any one else have experience in this area? What age did you start teaching your kids to help around the house? Any thoughts or tips you’d care to pass along?