Hard at Work: Everyday “Chores” and Tasks for Children under 5

In the kitchen with my 3 yo and 10 mo, I was cooking and paying attention to the stove, when I saw my daughter grab a broom.

She often does this and wants to sweep. Usually she wants to do this when I am sweeping, intent on swiftly gathering a dirt pile and stashing it in the trash safe from baby’s fast fingers. My dirt pile gets swept all over the room again, and my frustration needs managing.

Today, though, I wasn’t protecting a dirt pile or a baby, so I didn’t notice that she was sweeping so intently after a minute. After 2 minutes. 5 minutes.

After about 10 minutes, my daughter had swept one whole side of the kitchen into a precise, neat pile.

“Can you get the dustpan, please, mama?”

Of course! I helped her pick up that pile and went back to cooking, only to find her a short time later asking for the dustpan for the dirt pile on the other side of the kitchen.

My 3 yo daughter had swept the entire kitchen.

This was blowing my mind.

A few weeks ago, she was messing with my dirt pile. Now she was carefully and confidently wielding a broom and sweeping whole rooms.

Yet another wake up call to stop labeling my children (even “3 year old” is a label, says unschooling advocate Sandra Dodd). My children are capable of more than we are both conscious of in the moment. If we are to nurture and nourish what is growing within, I must work hard to balance my need for work to be done with my daughter’s need to know how to do the work of living.

What a gift to have the kitchen swept by my daughter; then I could say, “Food’s ready!”



3 responses to this post.

  1. thank you for including the life skills list from mudpiemama (now positive parenting connection) in your resources! It really is awesome to step back and let our children pitch in and do all these things around the house. My two year old helped clean out the fish tank recently and she was so very gentle and careful – so wonderful to observe that!


  2. Posted by Christine on November 19, 2012 at 9:48 am

    So true. Seems that when I let go and just let P help without putting conditions on the way he is allowed to help he surprises me. He can sweep, fold laundry and does the dishes from time to time. So sweet how eager they are to pitch in.


  3. Thank you for including our “My Pigeon Pair” round up of Chore Charts! Our kids LOVE to help so why not harness that generous spirit!


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