Here in our Headquarters, we don't believe a child is ever too young to start learning about responsibility - specifically in the area of chores! Etta Jayne is just shy of 5 months old and is already responsible for vacuuming the floors... Okay, I kid I kid. She is only responsible for eating, sleeping and pooping :) But Emerson on the other hand started helping with little chores probably somewhere around 18 months. We have always made it a point to involve him with housework, even before he could do a lot of the things himself. We want him to know that he has an important role to play in this family.
Our approach with chores (and a lot of other areas of parenting in fact) is to encourage Emerson where he is capable, and cultivate what he CAN do, rather than focus on what he cannot do at his age. In reality, kids are capable of so much more than we realize -- it just takes some patience and encouragement from us as parents.
Before you go call child services on me for putting my kid to work, I have to say that Emerson seriously ENJOYS chores. We make them fun around here :) The beautiful thing about little kids and toddlers is that they WANT to help with everything. I admit that sometimes it is tempting to scoot Emerson out of the way and just do the chore myself so it will be done right and quickly, but I remind myself that if I take the extra time to cultivate a helper now, then chores won't be such a fight later on. Fingers crossed!
Here are some of the chores Emerson helps with as a 2 1/2 year old:
1. Helping me transfer clothes to the dryer.
2. Putting the silverware away. We pull the Learning Tower (favorite thing EVER -- post coming soon!) up to the drawer and set the silverware basket on the counter. Note that I remove the knives beforehand.
3. Folding rags. They generally end up in a ball, but I applaud and encourage his sweet efforts!
4. Bringing his dishes to the sink after meals.
5. Making his bed -- mainly putting the pillows and animals on his bed. I have to tuck the sheets for him.
6. Putting the clothes in the washing machine. Trice just had him help with this for the first time the other day, and he had a blast with it! We also pick him up so he can push the buttons to start the washer and dryer.
7. Cleaning up messes. If he spills something, I hand him a rag and HE cleans it up. I don't expect perfection here, and I may have to help him, but I want to see him make a sincere effort. By no means is this used as a form of punishment for an accident. But I can't clean his messes for him when he is an adult, so he may as well start learning now ;)
8. Putting his toys away.
9. Throwing away trash - snack packaging, diapers, lint from dryer, etc.
These are the only things I can think of specifically off the top of my head, but we generally keep him involved and have him help with all sorts of tasks throughout the day!
What are some of the things you get your toddlers to help with?