Chores Fit for an 18-Month-Old

Many thanks to Leigh Ann at Intentional by Grace for the following inspiration …

We all want to teach our children responsibility, but more than that we want to teach them to work with joy, right?

I have a 18 month old running around my house like a crazy kid. He’s literally a tornado on steroids. It is amazing how a perfectly clean living room can end up looking like a pigsty in zero-point-two-seconds flat. Please, tell me you can relate!

In the hopes of creating a heart that not only loves to destroy, but to mend as well, I’ve implemented a few chores into my 18 month old’s daily routine to help teach him a little bit about responsibility and work. My motto is, “If he’s old enough to pull it out, he’s old enough to put it back…or at least try.” Of course, this means more work for me right now, but I know this will pay off in dividends in just a matter of months. I try to have him help me with at least one or two chores a day.

Before I share chore ideas with you, I want share a few tips that I have learned along the way.

3 Tips for Getting Your 18 Month Old to Help with Chores

1. Keep it simple. Don’t expect them to be able to do a complete job of dusting, or even a remotely half way decent job. They are children with very short attention spans. Give them simple tasks that can be completed quickly and easily.

2. Be joyful. If you want your toddler to work with joy,  you first have to emulate joy for them. Make work fun. They’re already happy that they get to help Mommy, but add in something extra special like music and dance your way through the chore. Then, praise them with great fervor when they complete a task!

3. Be consistent. Consistency is the key to any toddler’s life. They like routine, and they like to test their boundaries. They are learning at amazing speeds. Be consistent with chore time, and don’t give up. It will pay off, Mama! Your efforts are not in vain. They understand so much more than we give them credit for.

18 Chores Your 18 Month Old Can Do {with assistance}

1. Hold the dust pan. When I sweep the floor, my boy waits eagerly, and yes, sometimes walking through my pile of dirt, to hold the dust pan for me. He then dumps it into the trash can.

2. Dust a section of furniture. Spray a section of furniture, or give him a damp cloth, and let him wipe away with you as you dust your furniture.

3. Water plants. We have a garden so this is a fun way to be outside while we work.

4. Unload silverware. He pulls the silverware out and hands it to me, or I help him put it away.

5. Put books on shelf. We’re not perfectionists when it comes to our book shelf. He has two shelves that he can reach filled with his favorite children’s books. We just get the books back up there right now. I don’t care which way they face.

6. Put toys in toy bins. We’re working on sorting, but for the most part, he puts things wherever he sees fit.

7. Mop. I give him a damp mop and let him go at it. Be sure the mop isn’t soaking the floor because that’s just slippery and dangerous. Just use a little common sense, but really, this is quite helpful, and I can let him go to town with it.

8. Place groceries on conveyor belt. I hand him items that are relatively light and can’t be damaged like celery, carrots, avocados, baby wipes, cheese, etc. Eggs are not a good idea, in case you were wondering. And no I don’t know from experience. I’m naive, but not that naive.

9. Put away clothes. We have a drawer for shirts and drawer for pants. I don’t fold children’s clothes, so it’s easy for him to put the item in the appropriate drawer.

10. Put wet laundry in the dryer. I hang wet laundry over the dryer door and let him put the items the rest of the way in.

11. Put away groceries. Putting cans of beans away is a fun treat. Unloading produce into the drawers means something will be eaten along the way. Other times, he just hands me the items from the bags.

12. Feed dog. He helps Daddy feed our dog twice a day. Daddy scoops while he dumps. Then, he sneaks a few bites. It’s sort of gross.

13. Throw away diapers/trash. I hand him simple items to throw away.

14. Pull weeds. This one is loads of fun. I put him in a section where it’s all weeds and let him pull for all it’s worth.

15. Put away shoes. When we take off shoes, we put them in the basket.

16. Put dirty clothes in laundry basket. Helping with laundry is great fun.

17. Put dirty dishes in the sink. If you’re like my family, your child’s dishes are probably shatter proof so it’s safe enough to add this.

18. Help cook and prepare simple meals. My little one makes a mad homemade pizza. He loves putting the cheese and pepperonis on. Of course, a lot ends up in his mouth, but he absolutely squeals with delight. Just choose an easy meal and let them help.

What do you think? Any chores you can add that your 18 month old can do?

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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