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As an occupational therapist, building skills for functional independence is basically my thing. Giving kids (no matter their age) chores that are within their functional abilities will:


  • Give them a sense of accomplishment + pride
  • Empower them to become a contributing family team player
  • Build functional skills that can be built upon in other areas (such as categorizing, reaching, balance skills, problem solving, etc)
  • Teach them life skills for the future
  • Help you out with your endless parenting to-do list

When you keep their little hands and minds busy working alongside you, they (hopefully) won't undo all that you're trying to accomplish.

It is SO important with toddlers to find just the right task. By that, I mean, the activity must have just the right balance of challenge and feasibility. You want them to be challenged but you also don't want them to become so frustrated that they give up.

I thought it might be helpful, to other parents out there, to make a list of age-appropriate household chores (listed by age range)—and remember that the idea isn't necessarily for them to be thorough, but to learn and feel as though they're helping.

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14 months to 2 years old:

Meal time

  • Help prepare veggies/fruit for snack: Wash and place pre-cut food items onto plates. At around age two, they can peel bananas and oranges (adult starts the peel, child finishes).
  • Help set table: Bring utensils to the table while the older children can place them properly
  • Help set table: Bring everyone’s drink and place it on table near their chair
  • Wipe the table down after dinner with help

Laundry

  • Place sorted laundry into basket (to keep hands busy)
  • Help take out items from dryer and place into basket with you
  • With help, can transfer clothes from washer to dryer
  • Place sorted clothes into washer with you, and pour pre-measured laundry detergent in
  • Help push button to turn on washer/dryer

Miscellaneous

  • Routinely clean up at bath time by putting bath toys away into bin
  • Carry a small sized bag of recyclables and place them in bin (use stool if needed)
  • Can pull a small sized garbage bag to the outside garbage (with an adult)
  • Take out the plastic cups and silverware from the dishwasher and hand them to you as you sort and put away
  • Starting around 18 months, they can start sorting the silverware into forks, butter knives and spoons drawers. If they can’t sort types, start with only forks and spoons (they will only have to divide their attention by two vs three)
  • Clean the cabinets—give them a wipie or wet cloth and have them get busy
  • Clean up spills with a towel
  • Help feed pet by scooping and pouring dog/cat food into bowl
  • Water the plants with a squirt bottle or small watering can
  • Clean up and put away one singular toy set at a time with adult encouragement (LEGOs, blocks, one puzzle). Learning to clean up is easiest when an adult models desired action (like putting blocks into container)

2-3 years old

Meal time

  • Help prep snacks and veggies: Peel and cut bananas and other soft fruits with butter knife, break broccoli stems off, peel oranges, sprinkle seeds, toppings or spices (salt, chia seeds, nuts, etc.)
  • Help plate pre-cut food items
  • Sort knives, forks, spoons into appropriate drawers from dishwasher
  • Set table by bringing fork, knife and spoon and placing properly in desired location (adult will model desired place setting first)
  • Help set table: Bring everyone’s drink and place it on table near their chair
  • Bring dirty dishes to dishwasher or sink and can begin to learn how to put plates into dishwasher and silverware, etc.
  • Wipe the table down after dinner
  • Can use a small hand broom to clean up spilled food with some help

Laundry

  • Help transfer laundry from washer to dryer and turn on dryer
  • Help sort clothes into baskets (lights, darks, whites)
  • Put laundry into washer and pour pre-measured detergent
  • Lay out clothes, find the stains and spray with spot treatment (may want to have them wear gloves in case of leakage)
  • Match socks: First find the matches, then lay the match atop each other (may be able to roll them as well)
  • Help each family members underwear in proper drawers
  • Fold washcloths with adult modeling
  • After they have mastered folding washcloths, then teach them how to fold towels
  • Put away individual folded piles of laundry into correct drawers, one clothing item at a time (for example, “Put away this stack of shirts, hold them like this.”)

Miscellaneous

  • Routinely clean up at bath time by putting bath toys away
  • Carry a small sized bag of recyclables and place them in bin (use stool if needed)
  • Take out items from dishwasher and hand them to you while you put away/organize
  • Clean the cabinets—give them a wipe and have them go to town
  • Clean up spills with towel
  • Water the plants with a squirt bottle or small watering can
  • Help dig, till, weed and plant seeds for a garden
  • Help feed pet by scooping and pouring dog/cat food into bowl
  • Clean up 2-3 toy sets at a time with adult encouragement (for example, “You clean up the blocks and LEGOs, I’ll clean up the dolls.”)
  • Clean up bookshelf independently (putting books in correct position with title facing out, cue them to "turn it so we can read the words.")
  • Help spray and wash glass windows
  • Put away bikes and scooter when finished playing

4 to 5 years old

Meal time

  • Prep snacks and veggies: Cut bananas, break broccoli stems, peel oranges, use a butter knife to spread peanut butter/jelly/butter etc. on toast or crackers, add toppings/spices/salt and pepper
  • Help to taste and add spices, salt and pepper to dishes (also helps to decrease sensitivity to certain spices and warm-up their palate for mealtime)
  • Help plate food items
  • Tear napkins and fold into squares, set them on table
  • Set table with silverware in correct position atop folded square napkins
  • Pour waters for everyone having dinner (pre measured water, from a pitcher or water dispenser)
  • Bring dirty dishes to dishwasher, can learn to place plates and silverware in proper locations
  • Wipe table down after dinner, use a squirt bottle to spray first
  • Begin to learn how to sweep items into a pile (still may need assistance)

Laundry

  • Help transfer laundry from washer to dryer and turn on dryer
  • Help sort laundry into baskets (lights, darks and whites)
  • Lay out clothes, find the stains and spray with spot treatment (may want to have them wear gloves in case of leakage)
  • Match and fold socks: First find the matches, then lay the match atop each other, then roll them together
  • Put each family members underwear in proper drawers
  • Fold washcloths in halves or folded squares (folded in half twice)
  • After they have mastered folding washcloths, then teach them how to fold the larger item, towels
  • Put away folded piles of laundry into correct drawers, learning how to hold the folded piles with two hands without dropping them
  • Help put hangers into shirts and hand them to you while you hang them in the closet

Miscellaneous

  • Routinely clean up at bath time by putting bath toys away
  • Take out recycling: Find a handy-sized bag they can fill and carry out to the bin
  • Take out trash
  • Help find ripe fruits and veggies at the grocery store: Give them a baggie to fill and teach how to tell if a fruit/veggie is ready to eat
  • Take out items from dishwasher and help put away/organize
  • Clean the cabinets: Give them a wipie or wet washcloth and have them go to town
  • Clean up spills with towel
  • Water the plants with a squirt bottle or small watering can
  • Help dig, till, weed and plant seeds for a garden
  • Clean up a small room with encouragement, but break the tasks down into steps for them (for example, “First clean up the LEGO’s, then the books.”)
  • Clean up bookshelf independently (putting books in correct position with title facing out, cue them to "Turn it so we can read the words.")
  • Help feed pet by scooping and pouring dog/cat food into bowl, filling up water bowl
  • Help spray and wash glass windows
  • Put away bikes and scooter when finished playing
  • Help put clean pillow cases onto pillow while you put clean sheets on the bed
  • Around age four, they can manage pushing a small vacuum

Originally published by Ashley Thurn on Helpinghandsot.com.

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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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