Between the kiddie pool splashing, mud tracking and impromptu caterpillar catching, it’s easy to feel like managing the mess and chaos is harder when your toddler or preschooler is out of school for the summer. Yes, summer is a time for you and your kids to enjoy, but it doesn’t mean your little one can’t lend a tiny hand. Finding age-appropriate chores for your child builds confidence and encourages independence, and perhaps most importantly, it saves you from doing one more thing.
Outdoor Furniture Chores
The dirt and grime that builds up on picnic tables and lounge chairs hardly scream rest and relaxation. Enlist the help of your toddler or preschooler in wiping down the plastic and metal sections of your lawn and patio furniture with a wet rag or damp paper towel. Have her spray the surface of any child-sized furniture with vinegar and show her how to scrub off the dried bits of corn and hot dog that are still stuck there from last weekend’s BBQ.
Outdoor Toy Chores
Swings, seesaws and bike seats get dirty during the summer, and you know that filth goes straight to your child, who then brings it inside. Give her a small bottle of vinegar spray or a damp rag and show her how to wipe down the swing seats and the ropes or chains on the sides. Cleaning bike seats and bar handles will also prevent the seat of her shorts and tiny hands from turning the same dingy color by July.
Young children love pouring water on just about anything, so you may as well capitalize on her interest and spare your flowers from imminent dehydration. Using a child-sized watering can helps your little one build strength and coordination. For potted plants, give your child a small pre-filled watering can and show her how to support the bottom with one hand while holding the handle with the other. Toddlers may start randomly pulling up any plant they see, but older preschoolers can learn how to remove the most obvious weeds from flower beds.
Outdoor Dining Chores
Put your little one to work when you’re grilling or eating outside. Charge her with setting the table. For toddlers, just emphasize putting a napkin, spoon, fork and knife at each place setting — save the positioning for older kids or you’ll never get the utensils on the table. Your kiddo can also bring condiments and empty paper plates outside from the kitchen. Wipe down the condiments before handing them off to avoid serious ketchup and mustard stains on her clothing.