7 October 2011
Turn Household Chores into Toddler Play
By: Lisa Reid (BEng(Environmental))
Over the past few months, my toddler has become somewhat of a
copycat. He’ll pick up words from conversations, songs, you name it (so we really have to watch what and how we say things). I’ve even noticed him copying actions, such as constantly closing doors (my habit!), using blocks as phones, the list goes on. But the thing I love the most is his love of sweeping and vacuuming the floor.
It is well documented that toddlers “are keen mimics who use imitation to learn from others”i In addition, it is understood that toddlers imitating adults provides them with an opportunity to learn about the world around them.ii
Jacob’s interest in cleaning was really brought home when we spent a couple of months at my parents’ house. Fortunately, Mum has kept a lot of our toys and bits and pieces from when we were growing up, so these are now available for our kids to play with. One such item is a small wooden broom, which surprisingly became one of his favourite toys at Nana’s. As you all know, with small children, the floor is in constant need of a clean, so when he discovered this broom, sweeping became a source of great excitement for Jacob. He’d follow me around (sometimes a little too closely!), sweeping the floor, the carpet, anything he could run a broom across! And he’d be constantly asking for the broom throughout the day. Sweeping the floor certainly isn’t a favourite pastime of mine, but when it keeps a toddler entertained and out of too much mischief, I’m happy to make it part of our daily routine.
Vacuuming has also become a favourite pastime. Again, while at my parents, my toddler fell in love with vacuuming. It may well have been because Mum’s vacuum has blue lights and is a bit fancier than ours. So while vacuuming, Jacob would watch in awe. Once back at home, he still constantly requests we use the ‘vac’ and can be found ‘vacuuming’ the floor with just the brush. Lets just say that our floors are now a lot cleaner than they were due to his enjoyment and involvement in these chores. I can only hope that his love of sweeping and vacuuming will continue (and expand to other areas of the house) for many a year to come!
There are many other daily activities that you can share with your toddler – washing dishes, hanging out the washing, watering plants, wiping down benches and bathrooms. All you need is a little more time and some toddler-sized implements.
So, if you’re finding that you need to do some household chores and you have the time, why not involve your toddler? You might just be surprised by how much they enjoy tasks that you consider quite mundane and boring and how their involvement can make the task more enjoyable for you!
About the Author: Lisa resides in Melbourne and is a mother to Jacob (and one on the way!). She has a background in environmental engineering and is a current accredited Home Sustainability Assessor under the Green Loans/Green Start program. Lisa is working to reduce her family's eco footprint by growing her own vegetables, using less chemicals and making her home energy efficient. She is passionate about minimising her son's exposure to chemicals and introducing him to sustainable behaviours from a young age.