Chores for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Brooke White

Posted on June 25 2018

Easy Chores for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Help! Mess and clutter are taking over my house!

When you have little ones around, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the amount of mess they make, the number of toys and books they get out, the amount of snacks they spill, and the general chaos they create. The good news is that with a few simple routines and some practice even really young children can help with cleaning up!  Some of the most important things to remember when cleaning with little kids are to be patient, to teach them step-by-step how to do things, and to take advantage of their naturally helpful attitudes.  It can seem like a lot of extra work at first to involve kids with chores, but in the long run you are really helping yourself, and teaching them valuable lessons about responsibility and how to take pride in a job well done.  

How do you turn kids with busy hands into happy helpers?

Kids love to help and be involved, especially if they think they’re getting to do important adult activities. Really play up the fact that they are now old enough to do big kid jobs, if they think it’s a special task they will be more likely to help out.  Try to make cleaning fun, for example, we like to put on music when we’re cleaning up and seeing how many toys we can put away before a five minute timer goes off.  My kids also LOVE spray bottles, so if I give them a dust cloth and a spray bottle of water, they will wipe down any surface.  I especially like to have them get the spots on the kitchen floor underneath the table that are hard for me to reach. 

Here’s a list of simple ideas of chores for little ones, you can adapt them by age and ability:

  • Put away books and toys before moving on to a new activity. It may help to label bins with words and picture, so little ones know where everything goes.
  • Put away small stacks of laundry into drawers. I labeled my toddlers’ drawers with drawings on index cards to help with this task, and it also helped them pick out clothes and dress themselves.
  • Put away light groceries, or deliver toilet paper and tissue boxes to the bathrooms.
  • Help sort laundry by type (shorts, shirts, socks), or by person (your size and my size), or pair up same colored socks.
  • Empty small trash cans into a bigger trash can, or empty laundry hampers into the washing machine.
  • Set or clear the table and wipe up spills. There are even printable placemats on Pinterest that show kids where to put each type of silverware, or you can follow the easy DIY instructions from the I Can Teach My Child Blog and make your own.
  • Sweep the floor with a little broom and dustpan after meals or messy crafts.
  • Take care of pets by scooping out their food and filling up their water bottles or bowls.
  • Take care of plants by watering them with a little watering can, helping pull weeds, or raking dead leaves.
  • This article by Parents Magazine has great ideas for more toddler-friendly chores.

Establishing routines also makes chores easier for kids to remember and learn.

When my twins started preschool getting ready in the mornings and out the door on time was really hard!  We started a chore chart to help establish some simple morning and bedtime routines.  These charts helped us get ready WAY faster, and really cut down on how much I had to nag them.  If they didn’t know what to do next to get ready, I could just remind them to go look at their charts and they could figure it out for themselves!  I have included a picture of our charts below so you can see an example of morning and night routines.  There are TONS of these types of charts online that you can copy and customize.  My kids used the yellow chart in the morning and the blue chart at bedtime.  They just flipped up each little door on the chart and closed it after they completed each task.  When they were done with all the tasks for the morning or night they earned a paw print, and then when they got all their paw prints they could pick a small reward from a treasure chest.

Chore chart for toddlers.

With a little planning you can put your helpers to work, and create a home with simple routines to calm the chaos.  Remember to stay patient and keep your expectations low while kids are learning, they will get the hang of it over time, and with some practice.  Good luck, and let us know how it’s going!

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