Having a kid, or two, 2 and under can be chaotic and stressful. Especially since they are experts in making messes, but seemingly incapable of cleaning them up. Is it even realistic to think you can teach a two-year-old to help out around the house???
What I’ve learned is, while teaching my toddler how to be organized can be frustrating and time-consuming, it is worth it. Having an enthusiastic helper makes a positive difference in the cleanliness and peace found in our home! Not to mention my sanity.
Isn’t 2 Too Early to Have Kids Clean?? They Should be Playing and Having Fun! Right?
NO!! t is SO important to teach your kids how to clean up and help out YOUNG! As an example: My husband- who was the oldest kid in his family- told me that his mother (whom I love dearly) did not really have him consistently clean up until he was about 4 or 5 years old. By then, he had gotten stuck in his head that his job was to play, and mom’s job was to clean. So he resisted and resented picking up after himself (and I think this still slightly affects his cleaning abilities and attitude :P).
My son, blessedly, loves doing what he sees mom and dad doing. My husband was the first to actually get IV to pick up his toys consistently (I did not have the patience for it, and would end up just doing it myself after putting him to bed). Hubs also did a great job encouraging him to help out in other areas, like cooking. We started to explore ways IV could participate, instead of turning him away out of fear he would make matters worse. We were shocked when we saw what he was capable of! I am sure cleaning improves hand-eye coordination and refines gross & fine motor skills. But, what I most love is that involving our two-year-old in chores has helped him mature and be less messy! If he knows he’ll have to clean it up later, he makes less mess. Plus, it gives us some bonding time- accomplishing tasks and learning together.
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*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, so please consult your physician before attempting any of these suggestions. Use your best judgment. What worked for me may not work for you. Each body is different and unique. Do what you feel is best at your own risk. I am not liable for any consequences. I am a blogger. This is a blog meant to provide opinions, suggestions, experiences, and information. Not medical advice. I am human and make mistakes, so information may not be 100% complete or accurate. Thank you, and enjoy!*
Without further ado:
15 Tasks & Chores Your Two-year-old Can Do to Help Out
Of course, all of these should be done with supervision. The point of having your two-year-old do chores is not to have a little slave running around. It’s to teach your tots good principles, bond with them, and reduce your stress levels by having a more organization- conscious child. They are still quite young, and having you there will reduce possible mishaps caused by a naturally distracted child. Kids learn by example!
Note: We definitely do not do all of these every day. That would be exhausting to a little mind! With certain tasks, I just note IV’s interest and invite him to join me if he seems interested. But other tasks (like cleaning up toys), we do every day to teach good habits.
1. Washing/Drying Laundry!
There is so much a two-year-old can do here! They can:
- Place clothes into the washer from the hamper.
- Move clothes from washer to dryer
- Move clothes from dryer to couch! (or wherever you fold clothes)
- Put (pre-measured) detergent into the washer
- Put dryer balls/sheets into the dryer
- Press the “on” buttons (this is also a caution, that they can turn the machines on/off at will! Make sure to teach them to only touch the buttons when mom is there)
2. Putting Laundry Away!
Folding clothes is a no-go in our home. He doesn’t enjoy it, and he is not very good at it yet (which I don’t mind, and is totally understandable). He can match up socks and likes to declare whose clothes are whose (a good sorter)!
But they can definitely put clothes away in dressers! This one really took me by surprise! I always have piles of folded laundry scattered around the house. For some reason, the hardest part for me is putting the dang clothes away. So when my son grabbed his piles of laundry and excitedly started putting them away, I was stoked!! He even likes putting away his little sister’s clothes.
He also wants to do mom and dad’s clothes, but our dressers are bigger, and I tuck the shirts in a certain way, so I usually reserve our clothes for me. I don’t have to label his dresser or anything, he knows where his socks & jammies go, where his shirts go, and where his pants go. Sometimes I have to redo his work because he didn’t see space in one drawer, so he just settles on a different drawer (or he gets lazy and stuffs it all into one), but he usually does a commendable job.
Hopefully, this goes without saying, but a two-year-old can definitely choose their own outfits and dress themselves! Sure they’ll pick shorts in the winter and pants in the summer, but usually, after a day of being super sweaty or a day of being cold, they will learn their lesson and trust mom when she says it might be too hot/cold for that. Plus, if you store most seasonal clothes in bins, they’ll be out of sight/ out of mind, and won’t even be an issue.
3. Setting the Table
IV loves helping place plates and utensils on the table in preparation for dinner. He is so excited to eat, he’ll do anything he can to get dinner on the table faster.
4. Clearing Table Away
Post-meal time cleanup got a lot better since our two-year-old started putting his own dishes in the sink. I definitely recommend only handing them plastic-ware, because they are not tall enough to place items in gently!
5. Loading/Unloading the Dishwasher
I kept my son away from this task for quite a while because I did not want him getting too comfortable with the dishwasher and potentially getting hurt by a knife, or dropping clean silverware on the ground. Or dropping and shattering ceramic dishes. There was probably built up tension from when he was a crawler and loved to climb onto the lid of the dishwasher, or splash in the water that dripped off the plates!
However, I finally remembered that I had been very young when I helped my mom empty our dishwasher growing up, and that I had always loved matching up the silverware into their respective compartments. So I let my two-year-old help me one day, and with a bit of guidance, he did a fantastic job! After only one lesson and a bit of assistance the second time, he can sort all the silverware by himself. My husband witnessed it for the first time the other day, and he was very impressed.
I do the knives before I hand over the silverware basket. He sits on his little bar stool, with the basket on the counter and he puts everything away. He leaves the measuring spoons out for me, because those go in a different drawer. Then he hops down, and puts his own plastic bowls, plates, and cups/water bottles away in the drawer below the silverware drawer.
6. Mopping With Rags
I got this idea somewhere online. Fill a bucket with warm soapy water, arm yourselves with floor rags (I have some microfiber ones similar to these), and go crazy! When we first moved into our apartment, the kitchen floor was so filthy our feet would turn brown just walking on it, and the cabinets were just as bad. So after my husband scrubbed it with a bristle brush, we worked together to wipe them down and get them sparkling clean! Our kitchen table had been in a dusty storage unit for months, so we wiped it down, too. IV had more fun splashing with the water, and wringing the rag out onto the ground, but we got lots of cleaning done.
7. Cleaning Up Spills
This one is similar to the one above, but if IV ever spills a drink or something, then we hand him a rag and he helps clean it up. He is a little too enthusiastic sometimes and grabs the hand towel instead of a rag, but ya gotta love his energy. Even though we know he will probably not do a good job wiping it up, we have him be the first-responder so he can feel responsible for his actions and accidents.
8. Washing Produce
Our two-year-old is always always always hungry. We thought we wouldn’t hit this stage til he was a teenager. Yet here he is. Asking for another meal or snack an hour after his last one. I will admit, I haven’t been the best at jumping up and getting him something to eat the second he asks for it. So, he has taken matters into his own hands, and has started getting his own snacks. (Which comes with its own problems of putting snacks higher and higher so we aren’t surrounded by half-eaten granola bars everywhere). This includes washing his own produce!
I am super anal about washing produce, since such a simple task will reduce the toxic pesticides found in our food. So when IV would start getting his own fruit, I would ask if he had washed it, and he would run over to the sink, wash it, then keep munching away. Now, he automatically knows he needs to wash it, so when I hear the kitchen water running, I will ask which produce he is eating. This lets me know whether to worry about moldy bits or not. If it’s an apple, we are in the clear. If it’s blackberries or raspberries? I hurry into the kitchen and hold them hostage until every moldy bit has been taken out. Eventually, I will make the effort to pre-wash it all in vinegar water >.<
The kitchen is a fun place to be for a kid. Our two-year-old has loved playing with our pots, pans, lids, and anything else found in the bottom cupboards since he learned to crawl. Then, he became enthralled with watching us cook. Now, he is obsessed with helping us cook. It can be quite annoying having to repeatedly tell your sous chef not to add in any more black pepper, or to keep his bar stool away from the stove, but it is endearing how much he loves all things kitchen (he takes after his father).
He can help sift the dry ingredients, mix the wets, and he loves pouring things into bowls. We have to clean up while we work, now, which we consider an added bonus. This prevents any extra 1/4 cups of flour or waterfalls of salt going into the cuisine and desserts 🙂
10. Watering Plants
If you have ever been to Tinkergarten, you will know that kids love to transport water from one space to another. They also delight in pouring water out. So having your two-year-old water the plants is a no-brainer. We used to trek from the kitchen sink to the porch every day, but then we discovered an outdoor spigot to the side of our house. This has made everything SO much easier (and keeps the mess outside). IV will hold the watering can under the spout until it is about halfway full, then he’ll carry it to the porch (sometimes with some help). Then he will dump water on our container tomatoes, arugula, basil, rosemary, and bell peppers!
He easily learned that he is not to touch or water the succulents, or the indoor plants. But he enjoys watching us water them.
11. Feeding Pets
We only have fish, and he loves to feed those. I can imagine scooping out the dog or cat food would be a joy, too.
12. Walking Dogs
Both my parents and my husband’s parents have dogs. My son loves going on walks. It’s like a match made in heaven. Every time we visit the grandparents, we have to take the dogs on walks!
13. Picking Up Toys
We used to just have a giant cabinet we dumped and stacked toys into. After Christmas, this cabinet started to explode. So we started rotating toys. We also purchased a lovely piece of furniture that holds lots of wicker baskets. Keeping things compartmentalized has made a drastic change in the toy chaos. IV used to have to dig through toys he wasn’t interested in to get to the toys he wanted, which created the unnecessary mess. Now, when he wants his blocks, he can go straight to them, without needing to dig through cars and trucks.
Organizing the toys and giving them places to “sleep” has also allowed IV to know that things have their place, and that he can help clean up. We have had to adjust, and if I am unable to help, I let him jumble up the buckets, and just drop everything in one basket. But if I am helping, then he does a great job following instructions to put the wood blocks in a separate bin than the train tracks.
We try to clean up before lunch or nap time, and before dinner or bedtime, which also helps keep the mess down. But lately we have only been cleaning up before bedtime, since the messes have not been too bad.
14. Cleaning Up After Bathtime
We only have one bathroom, and it drives me crazy when my husband just ignores the toys and showers over them. So I always end up having to clean them up. Usually, our kids are pretty tired come bath-time, so we hurry through it and don’t stop to clean up. But it is always a breath of fresh air to have them throw their toys into the bucket or net bag afterwards, allowing the tub to be clutter-free.
15. Brushing/Flossing Teeth
I try to brush and floss my two-year-old’s teeth at least once a week, but the rest of the time he brushes and flosses his own. He observed his parents flossing and brushing everyday, so he was tickled (and so were we) when he got ahold of a Placker, and we let him floss his teeth. We have to be careful, though, because he will floss so hard he bleeds! We have to make sure he is flossing different spots, and not the same tooth over and over.
Go Forth and Train Your Little Minion!
Two-year-olds are so vibrant, and excited to explore the world. They love helping out in the kitchen, laundry, and bedtime! Toddlers are learning to be independent, and enjoy accomplishing tasks by themselves.
This list does not even include fetching diapers and wipes if the little sister has an unexpected blowout, keeping sister occupied with books and toys, and other helpful things I might have missed that IV does every day.
Now you have 15 ideas of ways your two-year-old can help out! This will lead to more organization and peace in your home.
Do you have any other chores toddlers can do? Share them and any questions in the comments below!
Have a Marvelous day!
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