We Have Kids so There’s Someone to do the Chores, Right?
The real reason we have kids is to have someone to take over all the household chores, right? No? Well, it’s a good perk. And the earlier you introduce your toddler to the habit of helping out, the more natural it will become – so that when they turn into surly teenagers, at least they’ll be tidy and helpful surly teenagers. I mean, we can hope.
They’re small, so start small. While you can’t teach a 22-month-old to, say, properly sanitize a toilet (BUT WOULDN’T THAT BE AWESOME?), they’re great at little things: dropping dirty clothes into the hamper, putting away toys, stacking books, putting plates on the table. Demonstrate how to do something, then stand back and let ‘em at it. Make it fun by singing a little song about it, or chatting as you get the job done. Remember that right now, it’s not so much about them getting something done right as it is getting them into the habit, and teaching them that chores don’t signal the end of the world. Even if you give your little one a couple of washcloths to “fold” alongside you as you’re folding laundry, he’s learning that being helpful is a part of life – and that it pleases you, which he’ll love.
A little reinforcement goes a long way, so be watching. When you catch your toddler doing something good, like putting toys away without being asked or tossing a wrapper in the trash can, cheer her on like she’s just won the Nobel Prize for Cleaning Shit Up.
Scary Mommy Tip: Praise the effort, not the outcome. It’ll take a while for your toddler to master anything, but the willingness to try is the first – and most important – step.