How to get housework done with keeping your toddler happy

Inside: It may be hard to keep your house tidy and clean if you have small children. Find out the best way how to get housework done with a toddler plus get a free printable cheat sheet of kids chores.

Laundry scattered all over house waiting to be folded and put away; a pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen, with empty utensil drawer; windows blurry, full of little fingertips and floors looked like they are missing good mopping for ages.

And if you could take a photo of our house, that was how it looked mostly every day. I haven’t had enough time for everything: entertain my baby, cook, work and clean. Dirty house upsets me and is having a big impact on my mood,  so I start including  my daughter into housework chores hoping we will get stuff done.

And it worked!

Our house become cleaner.

 

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The secret of managing housework with a toddler underfoot

The truth is our house didn’t become cleaner  because my toddler is really helping, but because she is so occupied with the task while I’m able to do something concrete.

Life with little kids can be very challenging in every aspect. Maintaining house clean and tidy is just one of them. So far I have never met a mom who hasn’t worked like a trojan in order to keep her house clean. A major problem for me, besides lacking time, was toddler underfoot whatever I’m doing, screaming for my attention.

So, how to manage a clean house with a toddler exploring every corner and taking content out of every drawer, or sticking cheese pieces with yogurt on the fridge.

In Taekwondo martial artist will use the principle of using opponent’s strength and movement against him. Having in mind that very wise strategy I see so many opportunities how to use it in a daily life.

First of all, you have to be aware that toddlers wanna do everything that mama does. Coping mama is their strength.

Work with them, not against them.

Engaging your toddler into household chores you will help them learn responsibility and set good habits early.

You may think that she is all into coloring, and you have 5 minutes to deal with dishes, but as soon as you start doing it, there she is. Ready to help. Ready to get dirty.

Use that!

I found the best way to manage housework – include her into what I’m doing.

Invite him to help you and he will be the happiest toddler in the street. Not just once, but every single time you let him accompany you he will be thrilled.

Related: How to make your toddler daily routine work

Everything you need to know about starting with kids chores

Follow regularly routine is easy when you figure out what schedule works the best for you.

You may take one room each day, or set up chores by each day in a week. For example, one day you can do vacuuming, the other dusting, one day deal with laundry and so on. If you are able to establish routine, housework will become something normal and predictable for your kids.

Think about how much you wanna involve your toddler.

Bonus: Download a free cheat sheet of kids chores.

After all, you should always let him decide if he wants to help you or not. What often will happen that after a while hanging out together she will lose interest and go play with herself. And that is okay too.

 

Here is how we did our chore schedule that works the best for our family:

 Mon – Wed  Thu  Fri  Sat  Sun
 Kitchen
(wipe countertops, swipe floor)
Put away and clean toys 
Living room & kitchen
(Dust, vacuum, mope)
Wash laundry (4-5 loads) 
 Bedrooms (vacuum, wipe, change sheets)
Fold and put away clean laundry 
 Clean washrooms
One or two big tasks (windows, baseboards, basement, patio …)
 Rest

*Mon – Wed are the days when we are out whole day for work and have only short evenings at home before bedtime.


Simple rules to follow:

  • Instruct how it should be done, let him see clear steps (Imitation is the way how they learn).
  • Adjust task to their milestone
  • Supervise and be prepared to help if they need direction or ask for a help
  • Set up rules what is dangerous and what should not be touched (knives, stove, cleansers, electricity etc.)
  • Acknowledge their effort, it will help them to learn confidence.
  • Choose small tasks you wanna accomplish together and celebrate work done.

 

TIP: For helping in the kitchen, with baking and food preparation, you may wanna invest in a adjustable learning tower. This is a life saver for little ones willing to see what is mommy doing and not to mention how much safer it is than using regular step stool or chair.
If you are handy person here is tutorial how you can make one using Ikea stool. We made ours from leftover boards we had (this photo was taken when it was still in process).

toddler kitchen tower DIY in process

 

 Lesson for both Mama and child

 

“But this is a lesson for both Mama and child. For the child, he learns skills that will assist him in meaningfully contributing to the running of his home and family, building in him self-worth and a sense of accomplishment. For the mother, it is a lesson in patience.. (Robin – We Do Waldorf)

Before you even start please be aware that it can be messy.

Her idea of helping you is often not the same idea as yours.

I still laugh to a day when we baked Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins. I ‘just’ turned around to reach liners and when I looked at her I shook my head in disbelif. Well, that moment of seeing her hair covered with sticky mixture wasn’t funny at all. As she tried to remove hair from her face with sticky hands she was more and more annoyed and more covered with sticky mixture. We had to leave baking and take a shower right away. It took almost an hour to wash and remove all sticky mass from her long hair. Then we went back to continue with our muffins.

Those were the best muffins ever.

Be prepared that you will have to clean after them. Sometimes it will seem like more work than before you started. But in the end, it is totally worth it. No matter how long it takes, you will have fun and you will have your housework done, which means cleaner house.

 

List od chores for kids that can be turned into fun activity

Almost every household chore can turn into a fun activity that will help your child to develop milestones and learn.

Cleaning:

  • Swiping – She can sweep with her own little kids brush.
  • Mopping
  • Wiping – I give her a dry clean cloth or baby wipe so she can copy
  • Vacuuming – we take turns as she vigorously wanna do it by herself. We have a small vacuum cleaner that looks a toy but does a wonderful job.
  • Dusting – she will get her clean cloth
  • Washing windows – only if you are patient enough to do the bottom of the windows again when he loses interest and go play with something else.

Related: How to make your toddler daily routine work

TIP: Be careful not to use harmful cleaners around your child. Here is a way how to make homemade cleaners  that are safe and clean your house like store-bought products.

Clean up:

  • Pile books
  • Put toys away
  • Put clothes in hamper
  • Organizing and decluttering – let your toddler put everything out – he will enjoy that activity plus he will find an object that will entertain him for few minutes.
    (When that happens I leave my daughter alone to sit there and play while I move on to next thing).
  • Change bedding – toddlers are so good at holding sheets

 

TIP: Organizing doesn’t have to be a real task, especial if the child is too little, pick some items that you are currently trying to organize and give her to sort ( by color, size, shape…) or similar objects for stacking.

When we clean our fridge my daughter loves to build a tower of mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup and dips that we keep in refrigerator doors.

 

Laundry:

  • Washing – load and unload washer/dryer is a simple task (if your little one is still too little he can pick cloth pieces and pass them on to you).
  • Folding clean clothes
  • Sorting clothes

 

TIP: Learning how to fold laundry is lifelong valuable lesson.  If he is not interested try to empty basket for him and he will be entertained playing with it while you fold.

sorting socks kids chores montessori activity

I often pull out different socks first and let my toddler find matching socks. Not only she is helping but she is developing her skills while play.

 

In the Kitchen:

  • Put away clean dishes from dishwasher – (remove knives and forks first) She can pass over spoons to you or she can put them on the countertop for you to do the rest
  • Carrying & Putting away groceries – I will often give my toddler bag with something light (like buns or a bag of mushrooms) to carry by herself. When we get home she takes out groceries from bags and passes on to me while I put them in the pantry or fridge. Sometimes she will do some of the groceries by herself.
  • Set table – he can set his plastic plate and utensils, plastic cup or napkins
  • Wipe up spills
  • Cooking and baking – she can participate in all activities with food preparation like pouring pre-measured ingredients, stirring (alone or with you) peeling bananas, sorting veggies, passing items from the fridge and putting them away, putting muffin liners into a pan and so on.
    toddler chores in the kitchen - sorting veggies

 

TIP: Having a little toddler’s apron will minimize ruining clothes as cooking with a toddler can be very messy.

Handmade Toddler apron

 

Around the house:

  • Watering plants
  • Feeding pets (premeasured) and birds in a bird feeder
  • Cleaning baseboards
  • Any other chore you may think of that can be turned out to fun play or learning.

 

kids chores like washing area rug can be fun

 

TIP: If you do not wanna include toddler in some of the listed housework chores you can always set up easy going activity for her right next to you. Sensory bins are a great way to occupy your toddler, or few easy to set up games like matching game, color recognition game or spider web basket (works great for young toddlers).

 

Bonus: Download a free cheat sheet of kids chores.

 

{Disclosure: close supervision and common sense are required with all activities }

 

Make them happy

Our team housework chores became filled with laugh, kisses and hugs.

I often stop for a second and let myself absorb what I see. That little human being focussing so hard to pour a cup of flour into the bowl. While her nose is all white, covered in flour that she just tried taste a moment before. Surprised and insecure O-ooo when she spills the milk over the counter because her hands are still too little. And that glorious moment with a big smile on her face when she finally scooped chocolate chip from muffin mixture.

No matter what you decide, in the end keep in mind that they wanna do everything that mama does.

There is always be sky high pile of laundry or dirty dishes, your windows wont always be free of little fingertips, but remember:

Give them what they want, include them into housework, let them do what mommy does and you will see benefits instantly:

  • your toddler will be happy
  • you will have a clean house
  • you will bond and deepen your love

 

Challenge:

  • Print out list of household kids chores
  • Hang it on your refrigerator as a reminder of all the chores that can be done with a toddler
  • Next time when you start housework pick one activity
  • Invite your toddler to join
  • Be patient and have fun

 

Bonus: Download a free cheat sheet of kids chores.


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Get housework done with toddler underfoot plus FREE printable list of kids chores

 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Liz W. | 15th Apr 17

    Excellent post on getting kids involved in everyday activities! They don’t need expensive toys, they just want to learn by doing!

  2. Yana | 14th Apr 17

    I bought my nephew a kid’s Dirt Devil but he saw me Swiffering and decided that was the most fun. I rigged the pads to his slippers and now 15 years later he still Swiffers (albeit with the tool not his feet) and passed it on to his little brothers. It really is about making it fun.

  3. Tiana | 13th Apr 17

    I…..needed…..this! My daughter is 1 so she follows me and her dad EVERYWHERE! Im due with my 2nd any time now so this will help me in a couple months. THANK YOU!!!

  4. Jacinta | 13th Apr 17

    These are wonderful ideas! It’s so true that we need to let them help 🙂

  5. Kelly | 13th Apr 17

    You always have the best and most fun ideas of things to do with kids!! I’m not even a mommy and I’ve taken some of your advice already 🙂 This post was great! I love that you incorporate some chores into your kids routine and make them fun! I know they love to help you out 🙂 Great post! xo

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