The best medicine is prevention. That’s why Sherri Mills devotes the latter portion of her book, I Almost Got a Divorce But I Went on Strike Instead to training kids to be good housekeepers. Sherri suggests that even toddlers can do chores by “helping out” with mommy’s day to day activities. I love her statement, “Children come equipped with a boundless amount of ambition.” Amen, sister! That 18 month old wants to run the vacuum cleaner, doggone it, even if it’s taller than he is. And why not let him try? Here’s some of the ways I encourage my son to do chores:
Just a note: My son is nearly two and has long since quit putting everything in his mouth. For babies who are still curious, it is important to keep those nice smelling and tasty looking cleaning products well out of reach.
- Laundry: Joe II has a little step stool and I let him pour in the powdered soap and throw the clothes in the washer, put clothes in the dryer, and get clothes out the dryer.
- Dishes: I hand him the silverware and he puts it in the dishwasher basket.
- Cleaning up the kitchen: I give him a squirt bottle of all purpose cleaner and he wipes down the fridge and stove–as far as he can reach. Not exactly beneficial, but at Sherri says, “At least they’ll have practiced.”
- Dental hygiene: I got a cheap, battery operated rotary tooth brush which he loves because it is just like his mommy’s. It does a much better job that a regular toothbrush with very little help from me.
- Bath time: I encourage him to soap up the wash cloth and rub it on his body. I also give him a hand towel so he can practice drying himself off. It’s the right size for his little body.
- Eating: Of course, I try to get him to feed himself as much as possible. This requires a large tray on his highchair and a large bib, but he mostly feeds himself, even with a spoon and fork.
Since I started, my little man has wanted to do every chore that I do. He thinks scrubbing the toilets is actually his job and he gets really offended if I do it. He also wants to run the vacuum, sweep, and mop. Naturally, he’s mostly playing and not really getting much clean. But I think we’re cultivating his natural desire to be helpful and developing an attitude of cheerfulness about all these chores.
If you’ve got any other tips on how to get your toddler to help around the house, please add them at the comments! I’d love to hear more suggestions.