My daughter just turned 2, and her blossoming independence seems to be showing itself more and more these days. I find myself constantly trying to come up with ways to allow her to help, as she is always asking to do so. Months ago she started helping me unload the dishwasher, despite the fact that I have to reposition or even hand her about half of it since she can't reach it, but it was clear how excited she was to do it. It became a little problematic in that we could not load anything in front of her, because she'd come running in yelling, "I help! I help!" and start to unload the dirty dishes. So I started to show her how to put the dishes in too. Even if it means loading the dishwasher in a fashion that would usually make me cringe, I think it's just as important for me to learn to let go and try to let her do as much as she is capable of handling. Watering plants, "wiping" her little table when she's done eating, "drying" pots and pans...you can always see how proud she is of herself whenever she can help.
A few months back I began a ritual when grocery shopping. As soon as the groceries start coming through the door, she always comes running saying, "I help! I help!" Sometimes navigating a toddler while unloading groceries can be quite challenging. Especially if it's a trip she did not come along for, and she hasn't seen me in a few hours. The "I Help" bag solves all of those problems.
What I started doing is finding all the boxes from the grocery trip that she cannot really do much damage to even if she gets into - cereal, crackers, tea, etc... and group them into one bag. As soon as she comes running, all the bags I need to tend to go up on the counter, but the "I Help" bag goes right on the floor for her. She excitedly takes out each box one at a time and runs into the living room with it. There she will usually explore it for a moment and abandon it somewhere. By the time she is done unloading and investigating the items from her bag, I am also done putting away everything else, and I give her a big hearty "thank you!" for her help and a high five. The smile on her face whenever she feels like she's genuinely helped me is priceless.