Today I'm going to share just a few "chores" that Charlotte is into lately, at nineteen months. She really really really likes helping and is very interested in mimicking the things we do around the house. There are definitely times when she doesn't want to help... usually after she has made a mess and we say she has to clean up before moving to a new activity.
BUT her interest in these kinds of activities is really fun and we try to take advantage of her willingness as much as we can. Plus: I'm 9+ months pregnant and bending over to pick up a stray sock is something I'd really like to delegate to someone more flexible. ;)
1. Laundry transfer. When the clothes are done in the washing machine, Charlotte stands at the dryer door and puts in all the clothes I hand her (and the clothes I inevitably drop!!). She is usually very excited to close the dryer door and tries to do it before all the clothes are transferred... This activity also works when taking clothes OUT of the dryer. I put the empty hamper on the floor under the dryer door and Charlotte pulls all the clothes out and drops them into the hamper. If I'm lucky, she will push the hamper across the hardwood floors into our room and leave it there to be folded later. (If I'm unlucky, she will promptly take out all the clean clothes and litter them across the house... Ha!)
2. Silverware sort. Whenever we empty the dishwasher, Charlotte goes to the little closet that holds a metal step stool. If we help her get it out, she pushes it over to the silverware drawer and starts to unload the forks, knives, and spoons. She doesn't always separate the salad forks and dinner forks correctly, but we don't care about that at all. Caution: This only works because we don't wash any sharp knives in the dishwasher!
3. Dish washing. Charlotte LOVES loves loves to play with water. I give her a few plastic dishes to "wash" sometimes if I'm desperate to get dinner made. Lots of water gets spilled on the floor because she stool isn't quite tall enough, but cleaning up water takes about 30 seconds and this "chore" can keep her entertained for at least 10 minutes. Hint: turn the faucet on the lowest it can possibly go, to slightly minimize the environmental effects of wasting water ;)
4. Toy clean up. This isn't always a favorite, but most of the time Charlotte can be convinced to help put away her toys. Sometimes I do a partial clean up while she is paying with Joel so the overall job isn't super taxing/ time consuming.
One key that I have found-- deciding when to enforce the helping and when to let it slide. I really don't want to crush Charlotte's enthusiasm or take advantage of her willingness to be involved.
I find it challenging, but I try to be very consistent: if I say she MUST clean something up, I do NOT let it go just because she resists. I sit with her and keep bringing her back to the spot until the whole mess has been cleaned (while helping her do it myself). But if I ask her, "Charlotte, do you want to help me with the laundry?" It's showing that she has a choice and I don't force her to complete the task.
Do your toddlers do chores?! What other ideas do you have?