First off, my disclaimer. She does not do things that would be inappropriate and there is no chore chart for her to follow and earn stickers or rewards. She simply showed a lot of interest in helping out around the house, so we are teaching her ways she can feel important.
At the ripe age of 18 months, the little lady wanted to help with the laundry and dishes. I knew I should capitalize on this learning experience and teach her the importance of cleaning up after herself. So, I started by having her help me load the clothes into the washing machine. She loved being able to close the door, but she wasn’t quite tall enough to turn on the machine (which I was thankful for because, well, buttons). As for the dishes, I was able to designate her as the tupperware lady. She would put all of our tupperware away. This was all plastic pieces that I barely use anymore because I had switched to glass and that is kept higher up out of reach.
As she continued to grow and want to help more, Mimi (or grandma) got a step stool for little lady to use to unload their dishwasher. Since she is over there while I am at work, they are also teaching her the importance of cleaning up after yourself. She simply puts the dishes on the counter for Mimi to put in the cupboard. All knives have been removed from the washer before she can accidentally cut herself.
Now, at the age of 2, little miss can help with almost any chore. She picks up apples at Gamma and Popeyes, she sorts laundry by darks, brights, and whites, she helps wipe down baseboards and sweeps the floors, wipe down coffee table and end tables, and my favorite vacuuming with her own little Dyson! She also wipes her spot at the table with a *clean* wet rag after wiping her hands and her mouth. The entire time she is helping we are thanking her and praising what a good job she is doing. We want to continue to encourage her to clean up after herself and help around the house. I should also mention that she will clean up her toys as we sing one of her favorite Daniel Tiger songs, “Clean up, pick up, put away. Clean up, everyday!”
Toddlers naturally want to be around mommy and daddy and doing the things they are doing. So, encourage them and praise them for their efforts no matter what! Even if you have to go back later and re-wipe or sweep, you are building their self-help skills. It is important to not “fix” their job until they are no longer in sight. I’m just hoping she maintains these skills and desires to keep cleaning, because mommy and daddy sure didn’t as they were growing up!