Practical Toddler “Chores” That Encourage Independence

As a stay-at-home-mom, I’m responsible for maintaining our home while taking care of our children. People don’t realize that just these two tasks are full-time jobs. But I’ve learned that sometimes there’s a way to implement doing house chores with your toddler or preschooler. 

Practical Toddler "Chores" That Encourage Independence

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Children Mimic Everything - Even Cleaning

I often feel guilty when my kid asks me to play with them and I have to say “Maybe later, right now I have to clean the floors.” Or fold the laundry, or clean the bathrooms, or do the dishes, or cook. There’s always something for us SAHMs to clean

When my kids started walking they wanted to copy everything I did.  

I recall both my kids going through a phase when they were so proud of themselves for bending over to clean a little water spill on the floor. Every time they’d see me clean the floors they wanted to sweep and mop the floors too. 

As they got older they wanted to participate in things like taking the hamper to the laundry room and loading the washing machine for me. And learn how to bake and make their own sandwiches. 

These are all examples of a young toddler mimicking chores and tasks around the house. They’re interested, and honestly, it makes it a lot more exciting to have a, sometimes, helpful partner.

Toddler Chores Can be a Bonding Experience

I’ve stated before, in my Benefits of Toddlers Helping Around the House article, that a toddler loves to do “chores.” Our children want to feel involved, and we should let them give us a hand however they can. It’s a way of bonding and can be a lot of fun when we do things together.

So I’ve put together a few lists of age-appropriate chores for young children. One for Toddlers (1-3 years old) and one for Preschoolers (3-5 years old). Of course, there’s always overlap!

Practical Toddler "Chores" That Encourage Independence

Toddler chores: Ages (1-3 Years)

  1. Spot cleaning with a paper towel or rag
  2. Sweeping (learning to at least)
  3. Dusting areas around the house (particularly low reach like baseboards)
  4. Putting away light groceries
  5. Cleaning up toys
  6. Putting dirty clothes in the hamper
  7. Loading laundry from hamper to washer
  8. Watching and partially participating while adult cooks or bakes
Practical Toddler "Chores" That Encourage Independence

Preschooler chores: Ages (3-5 Years)

  1. Spot cleaning with a paper towel (windows, floors, table… etc)
  2. Sweeping
  3. Vacuuming
  4. Light mopping or (with a swiffer)
  5. Dusting areas around the house
  6. Putting away light groceries
  7. Cleaning up toys and books neatly
  8. Making the bed
  9. Putting dirty clothes in the hamper
  10. Loading laundry from hamper to washer
  11. Learning to fold and put away clean laundry neatly
  12. Setting and clearing the table
  13. Putting away their own clean dishes, cups, and utensils
  14. Learning to wash dishes
  15. Making sandwiches and simple snacks
  16. Helping to bake and prepare simple meals
  17. Gathering and sorting trash
  18. Inserting new trash bag while adult carries away the full bag away
  19. Assist in walking the dog
  20. Feeding the pets
  21. Watering plants
  22. Assist in gardening or clearing up leaves
Practical Toddler "Chores" That Encourage Independence

Tips for Implementing Chores With Young Children

Start when they’re young. It will help them understand much sooner and become more independent and self-sufficient. Soon they’ll happily be doing things without you asking.

Show them how to do it in a simple way. Children this age have short attention spans but are thrilled to participate.

Be patient. Don’t expect them to get it right away. Talk them through it if they’re struggling and don’t force your child to participate if they don’t want to.

Find things they like to do most to start with. Gradually teach them more or how to do each task a little better.

Make it fun. They’re already excited to participate and proud to feel like they’re really helping you. It can get a little tiring or repetitive so turning it into a game is always helpful.

Praise them. Congratulate and thank them while they’re helping so they feel more excited to keep the momentum going. Reward them after with something they like.

Practical Toddler "Chores" That Encourage Independence

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Emily | The Multitasking Mom
May 17, 2019 10:42 am

These are great ideas! My kiddos definitely help with a lot of these. We try to make it fun with games or framing the task around helping each other instead of a chore they have to do.

Maria Regina Mendezona
May 17, 2019 12:09 pm

I love this! often times I’m guilty of not making them do the chores coz I feel like they’re just gonna mess up some more but its good to include them and teach them at a young age. Thanks mama!

May 21, 2019 1:17 pm

I’ve been trying to implement more chores into my 4-year-old’s routine so
This is perfect timing! Thanks so much for these ideas!!

January 1, 2021 7:07 pm

These are great. My 2 year old loves helping with vacuuming, mopping and putting laundry in the dryer.