Here is a post that was very helpful to many families a few years back so we decided to repost it. The content is timeless but the photos are outdated, but they were too cute to not include in this helpful post. Enjoy Rachel’s insightful suggestions for including involving young children in household chores. this teaches them how to happily serve and teaches them about kindness by helping mommy and daddy. Here is the updated picture of the girls today.
Lately, I have had some success including the girls in my chores and household activities. I use the word “some” on purpose because I know with kids what works one day won’t work another day. However, I hope that what I share can encourage you to make your kids a part of household chores and activities.
Ellie helping Gammie pick tomatoes. Picture from summer 2014.
If you have a baby, I would encourage you to wear your baby. Ask your friends for recommendations on a baby carrier, or join a local babywearing group. When you have things to do around the house you can include your baby when you wear them or wrap them. (Note: It is generally not recommended to wear your baby while cooking or preparing hot foods. Also, be very careful if you are wearing your baby and using a knife that you can see what you are doing!)
I’m a mommy sandwich! Picture from 2014
Now for the toddler. Here are some successful ways I have included Ellie.
1. Laundry – Ellie loves to be my “helper.” I say, “Ellie, I need my helper.” And she follows me around saying, “helper, helper!” I let her help me put clothes in the washing machine and push the buttons (only when Mamae is around!). She also love to help transfer the clean clothes to the dryer. (We have a front loading washer and dryer).
2. Making Pizza – Ellie likes to help out in the kitchen. I am waiting to get a good deal on a learning tower like this one, but for now I’m using a chair so that she can reach the counter. (With constant and careful monitoring). She loves to help me make pizza. I give her a little flour and some measuring cups and let her have fun. She still puts everything in her mouth, so I taught her how to scoop the flour, pour the flour from cup to cup, or paint in the flour on the counter. (Yes, this is a very messy activity!) I also tell Ellie about the ingredients I am adding and count the number of ingredients as they go in.
3. Making muffins – I wanted to have Ellie help me make muffins for her breakfast. I had the brilliant idea to include her by giving her blueberries to drop into the muffins. It was fun because she could eat the blueberries as she helped. This kept her occupied while I mixed the ingredients. On her first try she put her whole hand in the batter, which was a mess and went straight to her mouth. So I showed her how to drop the blueberries in. She got it right away and loved to say, “drop,” as she did it.
Ellie enjoying the muffins she helped make.
4. Helping with the baby – Ellie loves to help me change the baby’s diapers. I put a stool next to the changing table so that she can watch me. She also likes to get me things for the baby when I ask (blankets, burp cloths, toys), and clean up “yucky” with a burp cloth when the baby spits up. This does mean that these things have to be in her reach. I do spend a lot of time refolding and putting these things away when Ellie has her “take everything out of its place and throw it on the floor” play time, but it is worth it to me to be able to include her.
Ellie loves to “help” by giving Hanna lots of toys.
5. Getting dressed – I have started letting Ellie pick our her clothes. If we have somewhere to be I usually will just give her two outfits to choose from, but if we are on time I just let her go to her drawer a pick. She really likes to choose. Her favorite thing to choose is shoes.
6. Getting the mail – It takes a long time, but Ellie loves to walk down the street to the mail box. Her favorite part is peeking inside to see what we have. Her other favorite part is the short walk there because my neighbor has a beautiful yard with awesome flowers, rocks and plants that Ellie loves to look at.
7. Sweeping – Ellie figured this out all on her own just by watching us. One day she got the broom and started sweeping as she said, “helper.” Somehow the broom and my helper ended up in the office rather than the kitchen, but she enjoyed it!
I know a lot of these ideas require extra time with tasks that would otherwise only take a few minutes, but I have seen awesome rewards from including Ellie in things around the house. Toddlers love doing whatever mommy and daddy do, so use that to your advantage! If there is a task that you need to do quickly or your kids can’t help, I find food to be a great help. I just fill a little bowl with a snack and ta-da, toddler is happy and mommy can finish her chores (or sit and take a quick break!).
What are your favorite ways to include your kids in household tasks?