But before I share my list of age-appropriate chores for young children, here are a couple of tips that seem to really help when finding motivation to clean is lacking! First of all, try and make it fun! This can be tricky, because, let's be honest, chores really aren't that fun. But sometimes I'll challenge my 4 year old to be a super fast "bullet" and we'll set the timer to see how many toys we can pick up in 10 minutes. He loves to make a game out of it, and it's surprising how much really gets cleaned up! Another way to make it fun is to play fun music during chore time. I actually have fond memories of doing Saturday morning chores as a kid. Not because of the actual chores, but because my dad would blast either The Beach Boys or some reggae album super loud throughout the house while we cleaned. Now, whenever I hear The Beach Boys I think of my dad and our Saturday morning routine.
Okay, with that lengthy introduction, here is my list of chores that most 2-4 year olds can complete! (Most of these are aimed more towards 3 and older, but depending on the child, many of these can be done by a 2 year old, or even younger!)
1. Clean up toys.
* I've found that having bins for certain types of toys makes cleaning up easier.
2. Help put away kids' cups/bowls/plates.
* One tip I learned from both my sister and sister-in-law was to put all of the kids dishes in a low cabinet/drawer that young children can reach. Our kids are responsible to put away all of the plastic kids' cups out of the dishwasher.
3. Help put away clean silverware.
* This might be better for a 4 year old, whereas #3 can be done by even 2 year olds.
4. Clean baseboards with a wet rag.
* This chore is one of those that might not end up meeting an adult's standards :) But any little bit helps, right?!
5. Spray and wipe down kitchen cabinets and fridge.
* Kids love using spray bottles, so why not let them play around in a helpful way?!
6. Throw away used diapers, empty applesauce pouches, wrappers, small pieces of garbage, etc.
* This is one chore that we start as early as possible--as soon as the child can walk and understand basic instructions. Both of our kids have been throwing away their dirty diapers (right after being changed) since before they were 18 months old.
7. Make the bed.
* Our daughter is still in a crib, so she's kind of off the hook for this one, but Will knows the basics to making his bed look nice and he's capable of doing a pretty good job at making his bed.
8. Put clean laundry away.
* I wash and fold everyone's laundry, but it should be the kids' responsibility to put their clean clothes away. I've decided that it's more important for Will to put his clothes in their correct drawers than it is for those drawers to remain organized and neat on the inside! Keeping neat piles inside the drawers is tough to do for a young child, so as long as the clothes (which are folded when I give them to him) get into their proper place, even if they don't stay folded, I'm happy!
9. Put dirty clothes in hamper.
* Even a 1 year old can do this!
10. Help put laundry in baskets from dryer.
* We have a top loading washer, which is a little too tall for our kids to reach, but they are very helpful in emptying the clean clothes out of the dryer into the laundry basket.
11. Organize shoes/clean up mudroom.
* We have a "no shoes" policy in our house, which means that our pile of shoes near our garage door gets quite unruly very quickly! But matching pairs of shoes and lining them up is an easy chore for young kids to do.
12. Vacuum! Or sweep/swiffer.
* One of the best investments we've ever made is our Bissell 3-in-1 Vacuum. (They sell it everywhere--I think I got ours on sale for $15. Seriously, best $15 I've ever spent! Super light weight, this vacuum is easy for a little one to maneuver around, and it's fun for them! It's Will's job to vacuum underneath the kitchen table, and any other spots that I direct him to :)
13. Set the table.
* Peter and I help with the glass plates and cups, but the silverware and kids' dishes can be set up by the kids.
14. Clear plates from the table.
* Same guidelines as in #12.
15. Put books back onto bookshelf.
* It might not look as organized as when you do it, but the job gets done!