1. Picking up their toys. While this might seem easy, it is actually tricky. This is one area my degree proves useful, child development research agrees that kids cannot process "cleaning their toys," they need specific direction. Rather than saying, "pick up your toys!" I ask them to find their blocks, cars, or doll parts and put them in the appropriate bins (e.g. the one catch-all bin because I am not that organized). To make things even more fun, we play educational games. For example, I ask Emily to find the red block, and Andrew to pick up his green car. Or we'll count how many toys we can fit in our hands. Pretty soon, we have picked up all the toys and are laughing because I've made it fun (well...I might be crying but one can easily hide tears with a chuckle) (kidding).
2. Dishes. Since I seem to be washing dishes every 10 minutes (it's my form of release), I have learned to involve the kiddos in this task in a painless manner by letting them play with bubbles. Occasionally I might let them load the dishes, but as this generally turns into a fiasco as they alternate between throwing cups, silverware, and plates all over the floor and placing them haphazardly in the dishwasher, I avoid this. Remember, I said painless.
3. Taking out the trash. The kids love to put stuff in the trash can. Emily is generally allowed to do this, but Andrew enjoys taking things out more than putting them in, so he is banned from that task. However, something we can all agree on, is fresh air. Our trash day happens to be Wednesday and on that day--if I am prepared and actually remember it is trash day--finds us outside, dragging the trash cans to the curb. The kids like "pushing" the trash cans and I am just happy I remembered this particular chore before the sound of the garbage truck interrupted my reverie (read: morning coffee/cocoa) and made me run outside in a chaotic fashion wearing any form of clothes (usually on backwards and/or inside out).
4. Folding their laundry. Okay, let's be real, folding laundry with toddlers is a very messy business. This is why I have a system of making it less hectic. I give them a small pile of clothes to fold and put away. They feel "big" and I am okay with them wrecking the pile over and over again. Whatever kids, it's a small pile and you are in charge of it (until I finally get my hands on it after bedtime and actually put it away).
5. Wiping up spills. Andrew is very adept at dumping his bowls of cereal and cups of juice (even if it has a lid) all over the table and floor. Emily is not an innocent party in this, she finds it incredibly interesting to pour out her drinks into other objects and re-pour it into her cup. As each of these activities--Andrew's and Emily's--lead to some big messes, the kids know to get a rag and clean up their spills. However, I think knowing this might be an incentive to make the messes; but, whatever, they are learning something. I think.
Have anything to add to the list? And you are welcome to steal my ideas, in exchange for free baby-sitting.