Chores with Children Too Young For Chores
“Many hands make light work” … unless they’re little hands. Then they seem to make MORE work. It can be tiring when they keep knocking down piles of folded laundry, or can’t hold a full dustpan upright to save their lives.
Obviously, when they’re too little to read, let alone reach the upper cupboards, you can’t simply write up a chore chart and say go. But here are a few ways you can to get the littlest members of the family started helping around the house.
Chores for 5-year-olds (or under)
- Let them wash off fruits and veggies.
- Allow them to dump in a few pre-measured ingredients.
- Help them stir in a bowl.
- Hand them wrappers and scraps for the trash.
- To help set the table, let them carry spoons, condiments, or other unbreakables.
- Encourage them to bring their dishes to the sink after a meal.
- If they can reach, let them put away clean plastic or wooden dishes, or utensils.
- Let the littlest one push shut the dishwasher door.
- Send them to fetch the dustpan (and maybe even hold it, if you’re brave).
- Let them try to sweep or mop for a few minutes before you take over (beware the end of the handle if you have breakables on the counters)
- Most kids, once they outgrow “vacuum-fear,” love using the hose, or helping you push the vacuum.
- Make a game of pushing an empty container around the house, “discovering” and collecting all the toys, then “drive” them back to their room.
- Do a “trashcan treasure hunt” and ask them to help you find all the trash cans in the house while you follow them and collect the trash.
- Give them items to put away. Ask, “Where do you think this belongs?”
Dusting and Windows
- Little kids can “clean” forever when you hand them a damp rag. (Just watch out, or they may get creative and wash things you don’t want washed.)
- Give them simple things to fold, such as washcloths.
- Let them match up pairs of socks.
- Have them bring their own laundry basket to the laundry room.
- Help them push the buttons, turn the dials, empty the lint screen, and shut the doors on the washer and dryer.
- Let them carry their own pile of clothes to their rooms.
Computer and Paper Work
- Take a few minutes to show them the letters to type a word or two for you.
- Hand them things to take to the trash.
- Give them “grown-up” supplies like a pen and paper, or an old keyboard and mouse, and let them “work” alongside you.
As you do chores around the house, try to think about the smallest, easiest parts of the job, and delegate them to your little helpers. Before you know it, they will begin to grow into bigger responsibilities.
Most importantly, take a deep breath and decide to be ok with cleaning slower—and less perfectly. They’re learning. And besides, in the grand scheme of housework, is it such a big deal if all the washcloths are folded into triangles?