Farm Kid Chores for Toddlers
Working with a toddler is not always easy! In fact, I would say it is rarely easy. The fact of the matter is that there are many times where I feel like whatever I tried to accomplish that day is just as quickly unraveled by the time I finish. This is not to say that you cannot have a positive experience! While this is a list of chores for toddlers, I often treat all of these tasks as games for Tad. There are certain chores that he enjoys more than others, the same as you or I. There are many where I have to do a lot of convincing to make them happen, though I am not really the type of parent to enforce a three-year-old doing to perform chores. These are simply suggestions for simple ways to get your little person in on the action around your farm or homestead!
Collect Eggs and Feed Chickens
Perhaps one of the easiest and most thought of chores for little ones is to help with the chickens. Chickens are an extremely easy pet for little ones to handle and care for as they do not require much attention nor are they a threat to their well-being (unless you have a mean rooster). Toddlers are great for helping pour feed into the feeders and filling up the waterers, though you may have to help carry those back to the coop/run! Tad likes to help throw any kitchen scraps we have out to the hens, and he does a decent job of picking up after them, too, if they leave watermelon rinds behind.
Carry Scraps out to the Compost
There are other moments where we take scraps out to the compost pile rather than feed them to the chickens. Tad does a great job with this! He cannot yet help turn the pile, but he can help build it up! We walk with him to carry out scrap veggies and other plant matter from the garden to the big compost piles.
There's nothing quite as fun as pulling up a radish from the soil or finding cucumbers hidden under leaves. While not his favorite chore and takes a lot of coaxing to go out, Tad has some fun helping pick vegetables and fruits. It usually depends upon what we are collecting! There are definitely some vegetables/fruits that I would and would not recommend for toddlers to pick. Some easy ones that are interesting are carrots, radishes, turnips, peas, beans, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, apples, pears, cherries, peppers, and eggplant. Vegetables that may be too complicated to help pick (depending on your kiddo) would be greens, broccoli, potatoes, onions, scallions, kohlrabi, or anything else that requires cutting or manipulation after harvesting.
Once you pull those carrots, you have to wash them! Tad's all time favorite task is to help me wash the vegetables after we pick them. He does a great job of dunking kale in the tubs filled with ice water. He also likes to spray the radishes clean with the hose. It makes a huge mess, but we are usually already pretty hot and dirty from picking so I do not mind. A few things that make this task easier are having a decent cleaning table (you can create a makeshift table by placing hardware cloth or chicken wire over two saw horses). We also usually clean over our rock driveway so that we don't make a big pool of water.
Load Wagons and Wheelbarrows
There's a lot of mess out on the farm! This is my least favorite chore, picking up branches and debris from storms or just simple age of plants. Tad, on the other hand, is a champ at loading scraps! He does a great job if we have chopped wood to pile up, fallen apples to toss, or debris to turn into a fire. Let them take on the smaller pieces that they can handle and make a game of it. How many apples can you pick up off the ground? Maybe some of them are squishy and have worms. Tad loves finding the squishy ones for whatever reason and laughs his head off at the bugs inside!
This one is similar to the chore above and perhaps a bit specific, but you get the idea! Picking apples is a great task for little hands. They can pull and prod the tree (within reason) and fill up buckets/baskets. We usually pile our generous harvest into buckets that get placed on the wagon attached to our riding lawn mower. Then Tad gets to ride in the wagon with me or on our laps if there is only one adult and take a ride around the farm.
Creating a fun and safe space for kiddos on the farm can be extremely beneficial to your daily work. There are most certainly days where I feel like I can get nothing done with Tad around. He has that wonderful toddler habit of wanting to go outside then go back inside 15 minutes later, then back outside. It goes on for hours. Do I get as much done in terms of work with him? No! But we prioritize and make things happen. He spends almost the entire day with me outside, and I am grateful that he gets too. Too soon from now he will be going to school and only working with me in the evenings, maybe even the early morning hours when he gets older. I am cherishing this stage for as long as it lasts! This is when he will get the most early receptors to our lifestyle and hopefully appreciate what we did on these wholesome days when he is an adult. For now, he tells me he wants to be a firefighter. There are some days, however, that he tells me he wants to sell food and flowers to people like mama!