Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mommy's Little Helpers

If your little one(s) have reached toddlerhood, you may have noticed them mimicking everything you do in a delightful mini-me way. My toddler, Noah, marches around importantly with whatever’s handy clamped to his ear, talking a mile a minute in very authoritative tones. His “phone” might be a shoe, stuffed animal, or snack bowl, but his mannerisms are the spitting image of his Daddy.

Noah’s twin sister, Grace, will tuck every scrap of cloth she can get her hands on under her chin, carefully smooth it, and run off with satisfaction as her backwards cape tangles around her legs. I suddenly realized she was “folding laundry” the way mommy does! A light bulb went on and I decided to capitalize on this stage of Simon Says by getting my kids used to doing chores!

After doing a little reading I found it’s optimal to get your children in the habit of pitching in early while it’s still fun. I’ve compiled a few great ways to involve your kids with tasks. I won’t pretend it’s not a little more work at first, but if it keeps the little guys entertained so I can tackle the never ending home operations, I’m all for it!

1) Next time you have a basket of laundry to fold, demonstrate how to sort it into groups of colors or kinds. Make a pile of your toddler’s clothes and one of daddy’s, and ask for help by handing you each item out of the basket or adding to the piles themselves.

Isabel cleans TV with bottle brush.
Photo Credit: glenmcbethlaw
2) When you dust, give your child a clean rag and have them follow along at their level, the baseboards or windowsills, for instance. For even more fun, cover their hand in a dusting sock!

3) When drying and putting away dishes, give your little shadow a hand towel and a stack of plastic dishes or containers to nest or place in a low drawer cleared for that purpose. If they’re a little older, you can even get a stool and have them place unbreakables on the counter.

Day 46: Old Enough for Chores
Photo Credit: ThreelfByBike
... a reason to have kids...
Photo Credit: Ben McLeod
4) When you vacuum, ask for help finding where the vacuum lives and locating the outlet. Stress that the plug is for mommy to insert, but do allow them to push along a popper or other push toy in their own section of carpet. Have your child clear toys first. Ask for help finding the vacuum’s home when it’s time to replace it.

5) Involve your child in meal prep. Have them put bibs and toddler dishes on the chair nearest where they sit or on the floor by their highchair. Have a designated area for toys and lovies to be placed during meals. This participation has the added bonus of encouraging cooperation when it’s time to eat!

6) Get your child to kick start the bedtime process by instituting a toy roundup, having them retrieve their PJ’s and overnight diapers from a special area, or having them select their bedtime book and replace it when story time is finished.

Try your best to refrain from “do-overs” while they’re watching. It might mean some things have to be left for nap time or after bed to be completed properly, but in the long run they will become capable and retain their sense of achievement. The more you can encourage your children to share in your day-to-day routine, the more they will enjoy each stage of the day. Having them help also instills great values, independence, and a healthy outlook on being productive. Enjoy this phase in your children, for it’s all too fleeting!


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