It started with Kora: when she able to walk she would follow me around with a play vacuum cleaner as I vacuumed the house. She helped me sort the laundry and move wet laundry into the dryer. She helped me sort colors. I gave her a clean, dry rag to "help" me dust.
There are two reasons to have very young children doing "chores" whether you are very formal and structured about it or not. The first is that obviously they have to start somewhere, so they can learn to do some things and do them right and grow from there. That would be the actual help you out part.
The second is just to instill in them that chores are a part of life. Just like brushing your teeth is a part of getting ready for bed, as a member of a team called a family you must pull your weight. It's much easier to start little and have chores as a part of the family structure than it is to try to get a seven, eight or ten year old to jump in and start helping! This is the preparing them for life part. It also has the benefit, if they have older siblings, of making them feel more like the older kids.
So here's list of something that very young kids have done around my house (ages 2-5/6 ish):
- Take a dry rag and dust surfaces they can reach.
- Take a dry rag and dust baseboards.
- Take a damp rag and scrub baseboards.
- Put the clean silverware in the drawer (this is a great sorting activity).
- Help carry dirty laundry from their room to the laundry room.
- Help sort laundry.
- Fold dishrags and washrags (and cloth napkins if you use them).
- Gather up trashcans and dump into a larger can or trash bag (with help) and put cans back in the appropriate spots.
- Dust the stair railings.
- Check bathrooms to see if they are low on toilet paper and refill. (Every Saturday Hailey has to make sure each bath has three extra rolls of toilet paper, which we keep in the bottom of the linen closet.)
- Throw away any empty kleenex boxes and put a fresh one in its place (we keep the kleenex boxes with the toilet paper).
- If a parent or older sibling will put a swiffer pad on the swiffer broom, they can "swiffer sweep" areas with hard floors. (You can also put washable microfiber cloths on the swiffer brooms as well.)
- Fold and/or stack his or her underwear and put it away (keep in in a low drawer in the dresser).
- Match his/her socks and put them away.
- Fold and put away clean jammies, t-shirts, and shorts or pants.
- Pick up toys.
- Make their beds.
- Set the table with napkins, plates, and silverware.
- Take a damp rag and wipe the sides of the dishwasher.
- Get the clean laundry out of the dryer into the basket. (This was my favorite when I was pregnant and had a hard time bending down to get stuff out of the dryer!)
- Helping bake/cook - let them pour measured ingredients into the dish/batter, etc.
Just remember, depending on the job and the maturity level of the child, you may not be looking for perfection. A two and an half year old may have a great time dusting the baseboards, but may well miss some spots. That's ok! This is more of get-used-to-doing-chores chore. As they get older you will slowly judge when to start expecting more thoroughness from them.
So what are some great very little kids chores you've had your kids do?