Tuesday, May 28, 2013

6 Chores Your Toddler Can Help With

As a Stay-At-Home Mom one of the biggest challenges I face on a daily basis is trying to clean my house with a toddler under foot.

With my oldest son this was never something I had to deal with. He was a very independent boy and would've rather been playing alone in his room than spending time with me. But with my youngest, this isn't the case.

I think it's because he's so used to having a big brother there to play with, when brother is at school he doesn't know how to keep himself entertained and gets into EVERYTHING constantly looking for attention.

I literally can't turn my head because he'll be into something the second I do. And it's usually something breakable or extremely messy (picture lipstick on the nightstand).

Which, as you can imagine, makes it very difficult to get my Cleaning Routine accomplished (and as I type this I've had to chase him out of the pantry 3 times, away from the cat food twice, and stop him from dumping the movies off the shelf).

I'm not really sure what I've done to deserve this but it's become the life I lead.

The only way that I've found to keep him entertained and out of mischief when I'm trying to get things done is to include him in the tasks I'm trying to complete.

(And I know some of you are rolling your eyes at me and saying Duh (Mom!) and all I can say about it is, I'm still learning as I go).

So, through complete trial and error, I've compiled a list of chores I allow my child to help with (and I do almost daily) that keep him safe from a crazed and frustrated Mommy.

And, as we already know because I say it often, I'm cool enough (unless you talk to my 6 year old) that I wanted to share them with you!

1. Wiping/dusting surfaces - I have 2 boys that live in this house and, much to my dismay, there is usually something sticky, smelly, or just plain nasty sitting on the surfaces in my home. ALL the surfaces. So this is a great chore that my boys can help with and surprisingly they like to do (probably because it involves a spray bottle of water).

I give them the spray bottle and a rag and let them have at wiping down the counters, the end tables, the kitchen table, their dresser tops, etc. And since there is a lot of these surfaces, it usually takes a little bit to complete. (For the toddler, I have him come to the room I'm in and work in there. When I move to another room, he follows).

2. Swiffer mopping the floors - Swiffer mopping the floors is actually one of my favorite chores to do. So it makes sense that my 2 year old would like to do it too. And it's great because I can take the middle section out the of mop and make it the perfect height for him to use! I make it Liam sized, put on the dry pad (wet gets kind of messy so I do that myself) and set him free on the floors of my kitchen, dining room, and bathrooms. He is fascinated and busy and I can get dishes or toilets cleaned and supper made.

This is also a chore that I do every day, so I usually have him do it when I most need him to be busy and quiet.

3. Laundry - Now, I know what your thinking. How can a toddler help with laundry and NOT get under foot? But really, it's easy. And he can help with just about every step in the process too! He loves to throw the dirty clothes into the washing machine (SN: I NEVER set him up on the dryer. I've heard too many scary stories of Moms turning their heads and babies falling into washing machines). He likes to play "basketball" with the clothes and will literally throw them in the washer to see if he makes it. He usually does too and Daddy is proud that I'm honing those sports skills.

He also likes to put the clean clothes in the drier (hopefully soon I'll have a clothes line and he can help with that too). It's kind of a process since I have to give him the clothes to put in the drier and it would be far easier to just put them there myself, but it keeps him out of trouble, so I do it. We've also made it a game to see how fast he can take the dry clothes to the couch or to put them all away after I've folded them. So this "game" can be stretched and have him busy all day! Win!

4. Picking up the toys - This chore has always been a requirement for my boys. I don't play with the toys, they do. Therefore they will pick them up. But it's still something that keeps them busy (especially the toddler) and if you make it a game (again, basketball) they laugh the whole time. We also do this for the outside toys. See if they can make it into the toy/sand box. I even enjoy this one when we are having fun.

5. Putting away the dishes - There is something about my dishwasher that is just so fascinating to my 2 year old. Every time I go to load or unload it he is right there trying to get into it. Which used to frustrate me to no end! He would be removing the dirty dishes, playing with them, and trying to get my attention the whole time...ugh! Just go play!!!

Well, one day I had a stroke of brilliance and I started to let him help me with this chore. The whole time fearing that he'd break something or put it away wrong (if you don't know already, I have some bad OCD tendencies). But he surprised the heck out of me and did it all perfectly the first time! And ever, since this has become one of his daily chores. Brother cleans the table and Liam helps with dishes. We've even moved on to him helping me load it with the dirty dishes (which are prewashed in the sink by me).

6. Vacuuming - Often vacuuming the carpets is right up there with swiffering the floors. It's almost done daily because there is always something that's been crumpled, dumped or crushed into the carpet. And for my youngest it was always a funny thing to pull the plug out of the wall while I was trying to clean up the goldfish he (purposely) smashed everywhere in his room. Or to add to the mess where I've already vacuumed. Brat.

So one day I got so mad I made him vacuum the floor himself (yes, the vacuum is 2ft taller than he is...but I was mad) and to my udder shock and amusement he LOVED it! So now when he hears the vacuum he is right there trying to help push it. He's not quite strong enough yet, but it helps to keep him from causing trouble.

I sometimes don't think we give our toddlers enough credit and I've noticed that by keeping mine included with what I do on a daily basis I don't have quite the amount of behavior problems I used to.

Which in the end is a win for both of us!

Do you have any chores you could add to this list? Was there something you were shocked to find that your toddler loved to help with? Let me know in the comments!

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