Part of why the “twos” can be so “terrible” is because these quick-growing toddlers are starting to realize they're their own person, and they want autonomy. It's almost as if they're saying…

  • Don't TELL me to wear that blue dress. I want to wear a green shirt with a yellow tutu! And I want two different socks!
  • Don't put that toothbrush in my mouth. I want to brush my teeth myself! I'm BIG!
  • I do NOT want to hold your hand in this parking lot. I want to be big and free like you!


Sometimes we can “indulge” our toddlers' assertions of independence, like when it comes to getting dressed (assuming weather appropriateness). Other times, we really do need to do things “our way” either for health or safety reasons, because we have to be somewhere at a certain time, in order to maintain our homes, or to stick to a bedtime schedule for sanity.


Does that mean we have to do everything for our toddlers? Does it mean we have to pull out the “BECAUSE I'M THE MOM” card?

Or does it mean we should teach our toddlers, so that they can gain more and more independence, responsibility, confidence, and satisfaction in their own work?

I vote the latter.

Here are some “chores,” or really tasks around the house, that my 2 year old regularly does.

  1. Puts her clothes into the hamper each night, and her pajamas into the hamper each morning.
  2. Chooses her clothes for the day. Sometimes I just offer her a choice of a couple of different things (usually if we are going out somewhere). Other times, I let her choose anything from her closet or dresser. She also chooses her jammies before bed.
  3. Brings me diapers for Joseph, opens the wipes container, gets out a wipe, closes the wipes container, throws away dirty diapers (yes, we are in disposables for now).
  4. Puts away toys when she is finished playing with them. Cleans up books when she's finished reading.
  5. Wipes her hands and face, the table where she sat, and her booster seat (if anything got on it) after meals.
  6. Gets her own cup and fills it with water from the water cooler when she is thirsty. If she spills, she cleans it up with a cloth napkin.
  7. Puts away the cloth napkins when I'm folding laundry. She is learning to fold them, too. (See photo above)
  8. Puts away her jammies (they're in a low drawer she can reach easily), socks, and underwear when I'm folding laundry.
  9. Carries one item or a light bag into the house after we go grocery shopping.
  10. Brushes her teeth after she takes a bath (or sometimes in the bath). I brush them before or after she does it herself, to make sure they get really clean, but she likes to do it herself in addition. (See photo above)
  11. When I am cleaning or dusting, she likes to join in, so I'll spray (homemade) all-purpose cleaner on the dishwasher, oven door, some cabinets, or the fridge, and let her go to town with a microfiber cloth.
  12. Puts her shoes away beside the front door when we come in from an outing.
  13. Helps when her baby brother is upset…bringing him toys, or sweetly saying, “It's okay, Joey.”

Other things I'm going to help her learn soon:

  • Matching socks.
  • Getting a snack on her own.
  • More independence with picking out clothes (right now she can't reach her dresses unless I pick her up).
  • Putting dirty or wet napkins and dish towels into “kitchen laundry” (I need to make an area for this) when she's finished with them.
  • Learning to sweep. This will be a Montessori-style “work” with rice or something, before moving on to sweeping actual dust on floors. She really really wants to do this, and “sneaks” my big broom out often, but she isn't sure how to proceed.
  • Putting on and taking off shoes. Putting them on will probably take a bit longer to learn. Sitting down and taking them off is something she can already do, but gets frustrated with, so she needs more practice with this.
  • Hanging her jacket on a hook when we come in from an outing (once it's cooler and we are actually wearing jackets).

What chores does your toddler do? Do you notice that as he or she does more tasks independently, there are fewer tantrums or less frustration?

Are there any tasks you wish your toddler would do, but won't? What roadblocks are you hitting?

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  1. I have a 24 1/2 month old. He loves to help unload the dishwasher by handing me one plate, bowl or cup at a time. Or loading the forks, spoons, etc. He would do more loading, but I’m a bit of a control freak regarding how the dishes go in. Then, he adds the soap pod, closes the door and turns it on. He also puts his dirty clothes in the hamper and picks out his own jammies. I like your other suggestions and will make sure to incorporate them into our routine. Thank you! 🙂

    • Aw, that sounds so fun! My little guy loves the dishwasher too (he’s 2 also), and laundry is his favorite!

  2. J2 loves to use the Swiffer on the floors, helping to empty the dishwaser and put away his own clothes. Also, he cleans his own messes and puts his toys/books away. He is learning to put on his own shoes right now. I try to offer him a couple clothing items to pick from, but he just looks at me funny like he doesn’t understand what I’m asking (maybe it’s a boy thing…he doesn’t really care what he wears). Haha

  3. My 26 mo old is the same way! She is such a big helper with the baby. She’s fascinated by the cloth diapers so we have a couple of little Bambino Mio ones we leave out for her to play with. A little tip on the “sweeping”- you can take segments out of the Swiffer handle to make it shorter. I was going to get rid of ours because I wasn’t using it but we put a microfiber on the sweep part & shortened it and now my daughter does our floors 🙂

  4. It sounds like your daughter and my 26 mo old are about exactly the same! He also likes to help me water the plants outside with a small watering can, and put items in the dryer for me. Or help ‘cook’ by throwing frozen fruit in the blender, or stirring baking (messy!) Tasks I wish he would do: potty!

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