Have you noticed that there is a point when suddenly your depend-on-your-help-for-everything toddler blossoms into an I’ll-do-it-MYSELF-thank-you-very-much little person? I’m here to tell you: the best way to deal with that is to harness it. Use that new-found want-to-do attitude to your advantage and institute a “chore chart”—or, as we like to refer to it, a “Things Vivi Can Do By Herself Because She’s SUCH a Big Girl” chart. If you have older kiddos, this is an equally home decor-friendly way to customize a legit chore chart or daily responsibilities checklist, and the concept can be easily used to make a cute weekly meal board.
- a cookie sheet—check a resale/thrift store or discount home store if you don’t have one to sacrifice
- multi-surface craft paint/spray paint—specifically one for use with metal
- paint brush
- magnets or magnet paper—some office supply and craft stores have printable magnet paper
- adhesive paper for letters or stick-on letters
- scissors—to cut letters or magnet paper
- not shown: fine grit sandpaper, printer, and card stock
Start with a clean, grease- and food-free cookie sheet. If your cookie sheet is new-ish and nonstick, sand it with super fine grit sandpaper to remove the non-stickiness. Give it a few coats of paint, allowing the paint to dry for the recommended amount of time. Instead of washing your brush between coats, simply place it into a snack-size plastic bag and seal it up to the handle.
Print your chores, action items, or meals on card stock, and cut; then attach to your magnets. I found these simple pictures work best for my almost-three-year-old. She understands and remembers what each picture represents.
Decide how you want your chart to look—Vivi’s is in a simpler T-chart layout with “To Do” and “Done” columns. I cut the letters and line out of adhesive gold foil. Pre-cut sticker letters would work just as well and come in a variety of colors and fonts.
To hang, hot glue ribbon to the back of the pan and use a nail or hook on the wall, use heavy-duty magnets to put it on the side of the fridge, or just prop up in a kid-friendly location.
To use with a toddler/preschooler, first teach them what each symbol represents and how to carry out that action. Start with two or three new items per week, and work your way up to all of them. Limit the number of items to keep it from being overwhelming. Some icons (like the broom and “feed the dog/cat”) are super self-explanatory. Be sure that the tools and materials needed to complete the actions/jobs are easily accessible by your child.
Sometimes it takes gentle prompting, but most of the time Vivi takes ownership of the “to-dos” and makes them “to-dones” on her own. I hope we’re building healthy and responsible habits and encouraging self-sufficiency in what could otherwise be a challenging time!