Parenting Simply: Welcome Little Helpers

[ 2 ] March 8, 2012 |

My daughters are two and four, and even at these young ages I see how much they welcome some responsibility around the house, and how proud they are when they can accomplish “grown up” tasks.  Household chores provide a wonderful way for little ones to learn and practice new skills.  Parents may also find that they come to appreciate the task in a new way, as you start to view it as a learning tool.

In my home, I’ve noticed how much smoother mealtimes are when I invite the children to help with some preparation and some clean up afterward.  In the morning, as I put their breakfasts on the table, I fill the sink with warm soapy water and set up a sturdy stool.  We eat together, and then I ask each child to take a turn washing her own cup, bowl and spoon at the sink.  Usually, at least one of the girls will enjoy this so much she will continue to help me wash other dishes, pots and the table.

I’ve also designated one kitchen drawer, “The Kid Drawer” where the child-sized utensils, place settings and napkins are kept.  They’ve each begun to pick their items and set the table for lunch and dinner.  This gives them a useful task to focus on during those hungry moments before the meal is ready, and it keeps them from fussing with each other too much.

Because they’re young, I’m not a stickler about chores.  If they’re playing quietly or engrossed in an art project before mealtime, I won’t interrupt them.  But if they’re looking for something to do, while I’m busy in the kitchen, it’s been fun to have their help, and I do believe we are setting the stage for continued participation as they grow.

Inviting young children to help with chores does mean that the grown-ups need to slow down and relax a little.  We need to view their involvement as an opportunity to connect, to share an experience and to help the child practice a new skill.  They are learning about life during these moments in the kitchen or dusting or making beds, and that is just as important as the housework that needs to get done (or more important!).

Who’s helping in your house?  Do your children have chores?

For parents of young children, here are some additional articles that go much more in-depth into the how’s and why’s of inviting children to help with household tasks.  Enjoy!

Joyful Toddlers: Young Kids and Chores

Simple Kids:  Kids in the Kitchen

For Small Hands is a wonderful resource for child-sized kitchen utensils and tools for yard work.


Category: activities: indoor, parenting, Tips for New Parents

Allison Abramson

about the author ()

About Allison Abramson: Allison is a wife and mother to two girls living in rural Connecticut. She writes about her journey through parenthood at Her writing and workshops focus on simplicity, living closer to the earth and inviting joy into the every day.

Comments (2)

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  1. Leah Kent Leah says:

    Thanks for this great article Allison! Kids are incredibly capable and feel great about themselves when trusted with tasks. Participating in the activities of daily life at this young age creates a foundation for joy & success later on, whether at school or living on their own.

  2. Allison Abramson Allison says:

    So true, Leah. And I love the programs you are offering- so many great ways for kids to have fun learning new skills!

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