Toddler Chores

There are many reasons why I love the toddler stage of child development. One of the biggest is that this age loves to imitate and they genuinely want to help. Rather than getting frustrated, we're attempting to harness Sweet Potato's good intentions and teach some family participation too. We are accomplishing this in several ways.

We have a daily "To Do" board.  It's half chore chart, half daily schedule. When I initially was dreaming how this would look, I had grand plans. After three trips to the craft store, I ended up with an 8x10 frame. I stuck some white paper inside the frame and hauled out the dry erase markers I had stashed in my desk.  The rhythm of our day is reinforced, Sweet Potato knows what is coming, and it reminds me what she is capable of doing herself.

I do not expect Sweet Potato to "read" these, but I want her to eventually. I made the decision to reinforce the letters and language rather than using graphics. Additionally, I do not expect her to complete her chores independently. We check things off her list together. This brings her about as much joy as it does her list lovin' mama!

Here are a few of the things she is expected to do when asked with varying degrees of help:
  1. Get the mail 
  2. Set the table for dinner
  3. Help with meal prep (peel onions, select bowl for snack, etc.)  
  4. Pick up toys
  5. Choose clothes/ put on shoes
  6. Make bed
  7. Take clothes off for diaper change/bedtime
  8. Put clothes in hamper
  9. Be a big helper girl

Number 9 is key to our day not being a two year old tantrum fest. It is also one way we approach obedience. Tabitha is expected to be a big helper girl all day, everyday. Daddy reminds her of this each morning, and I repeat it throughout the day. Big helper girls don't whine, don't fuss, and they always look for ways to serve others. Since Sweet Potato loves to help do adult chores, we often see a change in attitude as soon as we remind her that only Big Helper Girls get to help in the kitchen, or go to the basement to change the laundry, etc.

One lovely surprise through all this training is independent play. Every day we allow space for free play. That free play always includes a wedge of quiet time. She is expected to sit and read or play quietly. Mommy is not involved in the effort. It is her time to pursue something independently and calmly. David and I really value our downtime, but it is something we have taught ourselves to  incorporate into our lives. Trust me, I did not always take time for me. I do now. The dishes might be piled in the sink, but I do my best to daily spend 15-30 minutes quietly enriching my spirit. We think it is one of the greatest gifts we can give Tabitha, the art of rest. I have seen a tremendous difference in her overall behavior on days when she has her time and when she doesn't.

What do you expect from your toddler? Are you encouraging them to be responsible? Are you looking for ways they can experience a sense of accomplishment?

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