What is it about spring that makes us want to clean? 

Maybe it’s coming out of a long, stuffy winter, cooped up inside, that prompts us to throw open the windows, air out the house, and sanitize all those germs that have taken up residence in our homes.

If you have little ones underfoot, maybe you’re wondering how to include them in a way that sets a good example and teaches important life skills like responsibility, helpfulness, and teamwork.

Article Continues Below

I use a gradual release strategy for teaching my daughter appropriate skills. I look at her stage of development and think of things that she can realistically participate in, offering enough support to help her be successful. 

Here are some of the things I have included her in at each approximate age.

6-12 months:  Modeling and explaining behavior

I started including my daughter in the clean-up process as soon as she could sit up, hold a toy and follow directions. I would tell her it was time to pick up the toys, model what I wanted her to do, start singing a clean-up song, and then ask her to do it with me.

Article Continues Below

1 – 2 ½ years:  Doing it together; making it fun as well as teaching obedience

This stage includes persistent and patient explanations of what we are doing and why it’s important for her to help. I’m still modeling and keeping her on track, but gradually giving her more responsibilities and monitored independence. Age-appropriate tasks include:

  • Put away toys
  • Put clothes in the washer or dryer and push buttons to start
  • Sort and match socks
  • Put her clothes in her drawers
  • Dust the furniture

2 ½ - 3 ½+: Growing independence and increased expectations

This stage includes lots of reminders, sometimes doing it together and sometimes letting her do it herself.

I’m first having conversations about the need to clean up or finish a task before we can do something else. For example, if I’m doing the dishes, I can’t play a game with her until I’m finished. This of course requires balance because I don’t want to teach her that household chores are more important that she is, but I do want to communicate the significance of delaying an activity in order to be responsible.

Article Continues Below

The discussion also highlights the fact that she has tasks that she can do all on her own. While she can’t yet vacuum the carpet or cook dinner, she is big enough for some things. This feeds her need for autonomy in a healthy and constructive way, but helps her see that she still needs Mommy for many things. Age-appropriate chores at this stage include:

  • All chores from the above list
  • Hold the dustpan while I sweep
  • Bring dishes to sink after meals
  • Put dishes in dishwasher
  • Sort silverware
  • Wash windows

As you are doing things around your house, think of ways to involve your kids. Think of what they are capable of and how you can increase their independence in a given activity.

Of course, all of this requires patience and lowering our standards to the level of cleanliness and the rate at which something can be accomplished by a child.

Article Continues Below

Ultimately, the training here is less about spotlessness and more about using daily, essential activities to teach our children skills. We want our children to know how to keep things clean, but we also want them to have a helpful heart and a conscientious and confident spirit. Giving them everyday jobs builds assurance in their abilities and helps them see they are part of something larger than just themselves.

Here’s an additional, more comprehensive list of age appropriate chores.

Check out some of our favorite cleaning products below:

GroVia Mighty Bubbles - 10 count

This uniquely formulated treatment is used to remove buildup of urine and minerals from cloth diapers and garments.   Dissolves completely. Not tested on animals. Made in the U.S.A. H•E compliant – safe for all washers. Phosphate free No ammonia No alcohol or ethers pH neutral   Ingredients: Sodium carbonate,...

Out of Stock

Prince Lionheart Knot it Refill

Individual refills for the Prince Lionheart Knot it. Three refills per package.

Out of Stock

bumGenius Wool Dryer Balls 4 Pack

bumGenius Wool Dryer Balls are 100% natural, hypoallergenic and safe for all laundry. Wool naturally absorbs moisture, which decreases the time it takes your laundry to dry, saving you time and money. Protects your dryer and clothes from chemicals and residue left behind from disposable dryer sheets. -- 4 dryer...

Out of Stock

The Honest Company Honest Laundry Detergent

Naturally clean stubborn stains & life's unexpected messes without toxic chemicals or synthetic scents. Perfect for babies & sensitive skin and ALL your laundry needs.Overview: Cleans stubborn stains, dirt, food, and life's unexpected messes – all with a neutral pH (non-irritating to skin & does not discolor clothing) Exceptional stain...

Out of Stock

bumGenius Odor and Stain Remover

bumGenius Stain and Odor Remover was created to remove even the toughest stains and messes without harmful chemicals. Natural and effective, this gentle formula can rid your cloth diapers, laundry and home of stubborn stains, dirt, food, and MORE while leaving everything smelling clean and fresh. Developed in partnership with...

Out of Stock

The Honest Company Honest 4-in-1 Laundry Packs

Enjoy the natural cleaning, brightening, softening, and stain-fighting power of plants and minerals in handy packs. No pouring. No spills. No worries. Just toss and wash! Pure 4-in-1 performance: cleaning + stain fighting + brightening + softening Innovative blend of plant and mineral-based ingredients carefully developed to achieve a superior...

Out of Stock

Pureayre Baby Odor Eliminator, 4oz

Pure. Powerful. Guaranteed. Babies are little in size, big on odors. Yet what parent wants to spray a chemical into the air after changing a loaded diaper? PureAyre® gives you a safe, natural way to get rid of those inevitable baby smells wherever you are, from the nursery to the...

Out of Stock

bumGenius Liquid Laundry Detergent

bumGenius Liquid Laundry Detergent has been formulated to care for all of your laundry, while being also excellent for washing cloth diapers. Developed in partnership with Better Life, this all-natural laundry detergent is an excellent choice for households looking for a hypoallergenic laundry solution. The detergent was professionally formulated using...

Out of Stock

BabyGanics Organic Tub & Tile Cleaner - 32oz

Keeping a spotless bathroom used to be a challenge. Using BabyGanics Tub & Tile Cleaner in your bathroom will take the challenge out of safe and effective cleaning leaving behind a fresh scent and a great shine. BabyGanics Tub & Tile Cleaner contains a special formula that is based upon...

Out of Stock

The Honest Company Honest Floor Cleaner

Say goodbye to messy buckets of water using our rinse-free, natural, 4-in-1 floor cleaner! It's eco-friendly, family-friendly, floor-friendly fantastic!Overview: Powerful, natural 4-in-1 formula for all your floor care needs Designed to safely break down grease, food, bacteria & dirt – will not damage wax or other protective coatings Works likes...

Out of Stock



Tagged As:


Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.



Facebook Comments

More Stories: