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My 1-year-old Does Chores

I firmly believe that babies and toddlers are smarter than most people give them credit for. When given the opportunity, I believe they will rise to the expectations they are given. Montessori methods believe in giving children the resources to do things for themselves, to be productive members of the family. Teaching them to do things for themselves, helps them grow up to be self-confident, happy kids.

For these reasons, I make my 1-year-old do chores. And, he is so proud. 

For Henry, specifically, he has three chores he is responsible for doing. At this point, it is not Hen's responsibility to remember to do these things, but he is expected to do the chore once he is told. Each of these things Henry has been doing since he was around 18-months-old. Right now, Henry is responsible for: 

Laundry: Henry must put all his dirty clothes in his laundry basket. Once they are off, he runs to put them away. It's actually really cute. One day, I left a pair of pants on the bathroom floor, Henry walked in, grabbed the pants and put them in his basket -- totally unprompted. 

Pets: Henry is responsible for feeding the dogs when their bowls get low. Henry is in charge of the whole process -- getting the food, filling up the bowls, and putting away the food. 

Floor: Henry swiffers the floor. We took out a couple of the center pieces out of the Swiffer so that its Henry's size, stick on the pad, and let Henry loose. A small broom, mop or push vacuum would also work for this task. 

If you want to start giving your toddler chores, remember: 

Keep the tasks simple
Don't push if they don't want to participate one day
Keep the tasks positive  
No punishments for not getting them done
Don't have expectations that they will be done perfectly

Using these tips, Henry really loves his chores. He thinks each is a game, a fun and awesome responsibility. He truly does rise to our expectations.

Update November 2015: As we have gotten further into our Montessori journey, I wouldn't necessarily call these things chores anymore. For Nora, these are just everyday parts of our life. Other "chores" that she does now (at 16-months) are clearing dishes from her table, wiping down a table and dusting. Window washing and picking up toys are also completely possible for many young toddlers. 

Anyone else have chores for their toddler? How do they go over?

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Susan said…
This is great, Nicole! I think John is due for a few chores now.
A will help me with laundry and put stuff in a pile. But the he always takes things from the pile then strews them around. It's the first step that counts right? :)
SAH Attorney said…
That is wonderful! Once E finally figures out this walking thing, I think I'll get her started on some easy chores too. :-)
Anonymous said…
I agree that kids are capable of far more than we give them credit for. My daughter loves to put dirty clothes in the hamper, feed the dog and help sweep. Great idea for making the swiffer toddler-sized!
Becky Marie said…
Laundry! My now 2 year old has been "helping" since he could walk. He sorts and loads the washer and dryer. We working on matching socks and folding washcloths in half.
Ashley said…
My little guy is just now 18 months old, and he loves helping. He feeds the kitties and helps get things out of the dishwasher (with his older sisters). He helps clean up his toys too. It is so cute to see them want to help!
This is a great idea! My Henry LOVES to put away groceries after shopping. And by put away, I mean, Dad unpacks them, and Henry walks from the dining room and hands them to me in the kitchen. He belly laughs when he picks up something that is heavy. I guess it makes him feel funny to use his muscles that way. But we are really trying to work on cleaning up his toys after he is finished playing with them. This is not going so well...
Laura Funk said…
Oh we totally have Eyan doing this! He does the laundry thing, feeds our dogs and his fish, picks up his toys and helps even move the laundry through the machines. It is awesome!
Anonymous said…
Okay if your one year old can do it, so can my two year old! Great tips!
Anonymous said…
Toddlers are much smarter than we think. It's easy to think they don't understand because they don't talk. But, my 3-year-old told me something that happened when she was about 18 months old,so I know they do understand. She has been dusting, putting away laundry, cleaning her room, doing dishes, vacuuming the stairs (with a little hand-vac) since she was about 18 months old. My 1-year old sweeps, puts toys away, dusts the baseboards, cleans up any spills he makes, washes the refrigerator, and they both straighten their beds.

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