Teaching Responsibility: Chores For My 2 Yr Old & 4 Yr Old


I grew up in my family business; a marina with a hotel, RV park, bait shop, and short order grill. My parents opened it when I was 2 1/2 and owned and operated it for over 20 years. I grew up in a unique situation where I was with my parents almost 24/7 until I went to school. In the middle of my eighth grade year we began homeschooling, so I quite literally was home 24/7.

When I was 11 my mom had me go with her to the hotel and help clean rooms. She didn’t have me do too much, mainly fetching towels, taking out trash and dusting. They also started teaching me to take orders at the store and run the register, among other little tasks. At this time they opened a checking and savings account for me and began to pay me a salary to work at the store and the hotel. When I was 13 and homeschooled full time, they put me in charge of the hotel on the weekends. By the way, I wanted to be homeschooled. This wasn’t some child labor scheme my parents dreamed up one night! 

I was working at the store on Fridays while also doing my school work for the day, and then I worked between the hotel and the store on Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes if we couldn’t hire another worker, it was just me and 15 rooms to clean all by myself. It was a lot of responsibility for a teenager, and sometimes I loathed the very ground that the business was built upon, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I was tasked with responsibility and earning my own money at a very young age and these expectations and responsibilities really shaped who I became as an adult. My parents taught me to work hard and taught me to be fiscally responsible.

I realize these are very unique circumstances and that not everyone owns their own business and can have their kids work there with them, but it was invaluable for me. When I had my own children, I began to wonder how I could nurture them the way my parents had me, because with the career path my husband is on, I don’t know if we’ll have our own business when my kids are teenagers. I still want to instill a great work ethic in them and teach them to have responsibilities and I want to push them to do their best at whatever they do and to take pride in their work the way I did in mine when I began working.

I realized that I would have to be creative being at home and not working and I didn’t want to wait until they were older. It all started quite accidentally because one day I got frustrated by my tiny 3 year old dictator yelling at me asking for juice and expecting me to go to her and get her cup. I told her (Izzy) to bring her cup to me. Or as in the words of my parents: “Your legs ain’t broke. Bring me your cup!” It all comes full circle y’all. I laugh when I realize I’ve said something to my kids that my parents did to me.

I started having Izzy bring me her cup, and then I began having her put her dishes in the sink after she was done eating. Next, I got tired of picking up their gummy wrappers all over the place, so I began to have Izzy throw away her garbage when she was done with it. Of course the toy room becomes disastrously dirty in a hot minute, so when it became so unbearably bad that I couldn’t stand to look at it, I had Izzy and Lailah start helping me put things up. Lailah turned 2 in April, but she understands a lot more than I realized at first. I had her helping me put toys back into bins one at a time, which she still thinks is a fun game. I have to work on her not tipping everything immediately back out so we can “clean” again.

Pretty much new chores are born from my frustrations over housework and dictatorial demands of tiny toddlers. Here are some of the things I have Izzy (4 years) do:

  • Clean up toys
  • Put dirty dishes in the sink
  • Flush the toilet (yes, she has to be reminded constantly)
  • Make her bed
  • Put books back on the bookshelf
  • Throw trash away
  • Take off her pull up in the morning and put on a pair of panties
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper


Here are some of the things I have Lailah (2 years) help with:

  • Throw trash away
  • Put books back on the bookshelf
  • Clean up toys
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper


It’s not a whole lot, but it really does help with my everyday housework. Lailah still has to be guided and reminded to do a lot of these, but that’s pretty expected since she is 2.


Izzy has become very good at remembering to do most of these things on her own without my having to remind her constantly. These aren’t things that I get mad at them or frustrated if they forget. They are young children and their first order of business is to play and have fun. I get that. At the same time though I want to start creating expectations of them and I always praise them lavishly when they help Mommy out by doing any of the things I listed above. This is my way of creating responsibility in my youngsters and I will keep finding new ways to do so as they grow older.

I hope you found this helpful! Have a wonderful day!

 

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