Yes, my two-year-old does chores ✅

I’m teaching her responsibility all with the goal of ultimately showing her that families (and communities) work best when everyone does their part.

Yes, my two-year-old does chores ✅

The first time I told my daughter to clean up after herself, she laughed at me.

Okay, she was 13 months old, so really she just blinked and toddled away to wreak more havoc on another room of our apartment, but, really, isn’t that the same thing? ?

As she approaches her second birthday, though, I’ve slowly found ways to start teaching her more responsibility through household chores, all with the goal of ultimately showing her that families (and communities) work best when everyone does their part.

It’s important to me that she values not only her place in our family, but also the contributions she can make to the world. For me, that starts with helping to take care of our home. Every child develops differently, so there will be exceptions, of course.

But for us and our home—these 5 chores are helping my daughter learn self-sufficiency and teamwork.

1. Pick up toys.

Don’t be fooled by that wide-eyed deadpan—your toddler knows exactly what you are asking when you tell them to pick up. The trick to starting a habit of tidiness for me is patience. When I ask my daughter to clean up using clear directives (i.e. “Please put your blocks in the bag.” vs. “Pick up the living room!”), there can be no caving if she doesn’t do it right away. I might get her started by picking up two blocks to show her where they go, but from there, I know I have to wait her out.

If she simply refuses, I don’t let it turn into a power struggle. I usually just say, “okay,” and leave the toys where they are. Later, when she asks for a snack or to go outside, I’ll say, “Yes, but first you have to put your blocks in the bag.” She’s almost always willing to do something I want to get something she wants. Plus, there’s no denying the look of pride on her face when she successfully cleans up a mess and we get to celebrate her helpfulness. ?

Pro tip: Baskets are a mama’s best friend. We keep all her toys in open-top baskets and bins to make it easy for her to put everything away when she’s done playing.

2. Wiping up after meals.

After every meal, I hand Vivi a damp washcloth to wipe her face and hands and then I have her use it to wipe down her booster seat. Real talk: She doesn’t always do the best job. But I usually have to follow up with a disinfecting wipe anyway, so for me, this task is more about the principle of, again, learning to contribute to caring for the house. ?

Pro tip: You might feel silly, but I’ve found that singing songs about “this is the way we wipe our face!” can be a huge motivator for reluctant little cleaners.

3. Putting away shoes.

Like most mamas, coming home is often comparable to unloading after a quick jaunt up Everest. I’m usually carrying my overloaded bag, sometimes a car seat, sometimes a lunch box or shopping bags, my keys, and struggling to keep our dog from escaping while we all squeeze through the door. It’s such a help to me that Vivi can take her own shoes off and put them away, and I always make sure to call out what a great helper she is. ?

Pro tip: Designating a specific spot for her shoes has worked wonders. Now she is used to the whole routine of taking her shoes off herself and putting them away in their spot.

4. Helping in the garden.

Recently, we were in Homegoods when Vivi happened upon a small metal watering can that came with gardening gloves and a tiny spade and rake. I decided to capitalize on her love for playing outdoors and brought it home. Since then, it has been a great way to get Vivi involved in caring for our backyard plants. I feel like we get bonus points for this one because it’s also a) teaching her to care for the planet around her and b) teaching her the basics of physical science. *pats self on back* ?

Pro tip: Once our veggies and herbs start growing, I’ll let her pick them with me and help me bring them inside to wash and eat or cook with.

5. Cleaning up her own messes

Toddlers are basically whirling dervishes of mess when they want to be. On any given day, Vivi will dump a basket of laundry, spill the dog’s water and spit a mouthful of string cheese onto the floor. This used to stress me out (“I just folded those!”), but I find the stress is relieved when I turn it into an opportunity to remind Viv that she is part of a family that all pitch in.

Now, when her sippy cup spills onto the floor, I simply hand her a paper towel and say, “Okay, now you wipe up!” She’s usually actually pretty thrilled to perform this “big girl” activity and I’m pretty thrilled I don’t have to break out the mop again. ✨

Pro tip: Next step in my chores plan for this specific task is to ask Vivi to throw her paper towel in the garbage when she’s done.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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These kids dishes don’t look like kids dishes

And that's exactly why my toddler loves them. ❤️

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Well, you can see where this is going.

I had to find something that would satisfy his "not a baby" opinions but still not shatter to pieces if he accidentally drops it on the floor. I had to find him something that's made for kids but doesn't feel made for kids.

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Now, more than ever, we need to hear those good news stories.

Vanessa Firme/Instagram

Last week was a week.

We lost a legal and cultural icon with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and deadly wildfires continue to blaze on the West Coast. Now, more than ever, we need to see creativity, kindness and compassion in our world—we need to hear those "good news" stories, but we also need to see the headlines that show us how and why the world needs to change .

And right now both kinds of stories are going viral.

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