A toddler's guide to helping around the house

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 Photo: Getty Images

As parents, we quickly recognise just how much life changes when a baby comes along: the sleepless nights, the very steep learning curves, and the flood of love like no other. 

And things don't change much as they get older. The life changes continue, but the challenges themselves evolve. For example, as your baby turns into a mobile toddler, household chores become trickier than before.

In fact, I imagine that if a toddler was to write a guide to 'help' you with these pursuits, it would go something like this ...

Toddler tip 1: Vacuuming

It's really helpful to sit on the vacuum to stop it from straying and to ensure that the same spots gets repeated attention.  

Remember to unplug the vacuum numerous times to guarantee overheating doesn't occur. Similarly, press buttons to change the suction settings at regular intervals.

Don't be deterred by a parent trying to get you off. Sometimes they try to rush things and need to learn, 'less haste, more speed.'

Immediately after vacuuming, demand some food – the crumblier the better – and make some paper confetti to sprinkle over cleaned areas. Your parent will thank you, as it will give them something to do tomorrow.

Toddler tip 2: Emptying the dishwasher

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Always be ready when you hear that dishwasher door open. 

Get in at speed and get to it quicksmart. If your parents' unpacking technique is anything to go by, knives are the best things to get out first, followed by anything breakable.

After that, climb in and clean the filters by sticking your fingers into them as far as possible. Parents don't do this because their hands are too big so they'll appreciate you saving them a job. 

Similarly, save them the task of making you a snack by eating any food scraps you find on the job.

Toddler tip 3: Washing

Dealing with washing is, in many ways, one of the simpler household tasks.

Clothes go in and out of the machine, and getting that in the right order is neither here nor there.

Therefore, if your parent is putting clothes into the machine, help them by pulling them out. Likewise, if they're pulling them out, tidy up behind them by putting them straight back in.

Don't be afraid to change the settings and reprogram the machine buttons regularly. Sometimes parents get confused, so it's important to ensure these thing are always right.

Toddler tip 4: Hanging out the washing

If you're lucky enough to be allowed access to the garden while this chore is underway, be sure to offer help. By pulling the washing out of the basket, it makes your parent's life a whole lot easier.

They can clearly distinguish the little things clothes from the big while they're all lying in the mud, and it can also help them improve on their speed pegging – a skill that all parents with children need.

Which brings to me my next point ...

Toddler tip 5: Putting washing away

No one likes the chore of putting the washing away, so once again, assistance is a great idea. Remember, more hands make light work – even if your parents seem to disagree.

After your parent has folded the clothes, inspect the piles quickly to check no folding has been missed. The best way to do this is to fling items from the top of the pile across the room and continue to do so until you reach the bottom.

Repeat for all piles.

Similarly, when said clothes are being put away, double check that they're being put back in the right drawers. Again, the most efficient way to do this is by removing them from the drawer and throwing them on the floor.  

Toddler tip 6: Dusting

When dusting is underway, insist that you need your own cloth. Grab one as soon as you can or, if not given the chance, repeatedly take the one off your parent – they will soon go get another.

Follow your parent's lead by dusting very thoroughly, ensuring that all objects are removed from surfaces.

Finally, mark out those areas that have already been cleaned by drawing on them with a crayon, felt tip or, even better, a permanent marker.

Your work here is done! 

Essential Baby