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10 Montessori-inspired ways your toddler can help around the house

Toddlers are more famous for leaving a path of destruction wherever they go than for helping tidy the house. The truth is they love to help, and if given the tools and opportunity, will enthusiastically help you with all kinds of chores.

Is this always helpful in the moment? Well, no, not really. But it does give toddlers a sense of pride and responsibility and engages them in purposeful work, which can work wonders on behavior. As a bonus, involving your toddler in the daily work of the household allows you to get things done when they're awake, giving you more time to recharge when bedtime comes. It's a definite win-win.

Take a look at your to-do list and try to think about which tasks your toddler might be able to help with. Even if they're only helping in a tiny way, young children love feeling included. Follow your child's interests to see which tasks will really capture their attention.

If you're feeling stumped, here are 10 ideas to get you started.

1. Unloading the dishwasher

Unloading the dishwasher was one of the very first ways my own toddler started helping around the house, and it's still a favorite activity today. Very young toddlers will only be able to hand you dishes to put away. Model how to carefully hold one thing at a time with two hands to prevent things from breaking. If a dish does break, it's a great opportunity to practice safety around broken glass and to demonstrate the importance of handling things with care.

Remove anything sharp and anything you care too deeply about before your child begins helping. To take it a step further, keep your child's dishes in a low cabinet so they can put their own things away.

2. Putting away laundry

Laundry is a great task to involve toddlers in because, well, they create so much of it. It's something you can practice together daily. Inviting your toddler to help you fold and put away laundry will at least keep them from toppling your carefully folded piles and spreading the clean laundry all over the floor.

Young toddlers can help by carrying folded laundry to the room where it belongs and help you put it away. Slightly older toddlers can help match socks and fold small, simple things like washcloths and napkins.

If your toddler has access to their own clothing on a low closet shelf or set of drawers, they can put their own things away as well.

3. Sweeping the floor

Try giving your toddler their own little broom and dustpan. Show them how to use it and keep it somewhere they can access it independently. Next time you need to sweep, invite them to help.

This is a great way to engage toddlers when it's time to clean up after dinner, as it's something they can do by themselves and, while it won't always actually be super helpful, it does not create a mess.

If your house is anything like mine, it can always use a little extra sweeping, so this is also a good activity to initiate if your toddler has a lot of energy and needs a purpose.

4. Window washing

Window washing is often a favorite activity in Montessori classes for young children. It involves a spray bottle and a squeegee - what's not to love? Try this window washing set or put together your own. Show your toddler how to spray once and then wipe the water with a small towel.

The immediate results of a shiny clean window make this task particularly rewarding.

5. Washing the car

Washing the car is perfect for toddlers for lots of reasons.It involves big motions that let them use their muscles, uses lots of soap and bubbles and is something you can do outside together.

All you need is a bucket, sponge, soapy water and a cloth to wipe it dry.

Your toddler can also help wash their tricycle or balance bike, which has the added bonus of showing them how to care for their own things.

6. Helping with dinner

The evenings got a lot less stressful in my house when my toddler was able to start helping prepare the food. Even young toddlers can help by dumping in pre-measured ingredients, mixing things and chopping produce with a safe chopper.

Your toddler may not want to stick around for the whole dinner prep process, and that's okay. Invite them to help as long as they are interested. They will likely be more content to play on their own when they're done, knowing that they have the option to join you.

7. Watering the plants

Many of these tasks are things your toddler can do alongside you, but watering plants is a job they can do all on their own.

Show your little one how to test the dirt to see if a plant needs water and how to fill a watering can with just enough water. They can use a step stool to reach a sink or you can give them access to a pitcher. Demonstrate how to pour the water around the roots.

Choose a hearty plant and of course make sure to water it if your toddler forgets.

8. Feeding a pet

If you have pets, involving your child in their care is a wonderful way to teach responsibility.

Most children love helping with pets and get a special sense of joy from caring for another living thing. Your toddler can easily help feed a family pet, though they may need you to pre-portion the food or provide a scoop that's just the right size.

If you don't have a pet, try inviting your toddler to help fill bird feeders outside.

9. Dusting

Dusting is a super simple activity that even the youngest toddlers can help with. Start with something easy like low window sills or baseboards. When your toddler is ready, show them how to carefully remove things from one surface at a time to dust shelves or end tables.

Dusting is very satisfying for young children because they can see the results of their hard work immediately.

10. Fixing things

Next time you need to fix something around the house or build a piece of simple furniture, try involving your toddler.

They will likely only be able to help in very simple ways like holding something for you or handing you a tool, but they may be fascinated by the process. This is a good one to do when you have a spouse or other adult around in case your toddler gets bored so that you're not left with a half finished project and tools strewn around the house.

Toddlers can, and want to, help in so many ways. They key is to invite them, but not to force them. At this age, it should be a fun activity you can do together.

While involving your toddler is often more work than simply completing a task on your own, it helps instill a deeply ingrained sense of responsibility. It shows young children that they are members of the family, and all members of the family help take care of the home. This way when your toddler reaches the age when they can actually be helpful, you won't be starting from scratch.

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

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.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.

Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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