"I want to help!" It's a refrain we've all heard before. Often as parents of toddlers we wind up either pacifying our little helpers with a fake job that serves as a distraction ("can you hold the spoon while mommy cooks?") or letting them "help" and then fixing it later. But both kids and parents feel better when they have a real, useful task, that they can really do right, all by themselves. The key is to find tasks simple enough that little hands can do them, while helpful enough that kids feel accomplished when they're done – and you aren't stuff just re-doing it all after they go to bed. Here are some chores perfect for kids around 2-4 years old – and remember, don't underestimate them! Your child might be more capable than you think!
Picking Up Toys
Toddlers love putting things into containers, so why not turn that into a chore you'll both appreciate? Even young children can pick up blocks, stack books, or put their clothes into an outgrown Baby Box or drawer.
Little ones love playing with water, and what might be a repetitious task for you is a great summer afternoon for your preschooler! Invest in a watering can small enough that they can handle it themselves and let them water all your container plants! Just be sure to have dry clothes handy for when they're done.
Two might be too young to trust your toddler with fragile knickknacks, but low shelves covered in safe items like books are fun and easy for them to dust. Get them a soft microfiber rag and watch them carefully polish all the furniture in your house.
Setting the Table/Unloading the Dishwasher
Your toddler likely won't be able to handle this task entirely independently, but sorting and setting out flatware is fun, easy, safe, and educational, since it encourages them to practice matching (putting all the forks with the other forks, sorting spoons by size). Tip: Consider storing your child's plastic tableware in a low cabinet they can reach themselves. Not only does this help them pick up and put away their own belongings, but it's a source of safe kitchen playthings that can entertain them while you're busy cooking with all the many kitchen things they can't touch.