For the first three years of my daughter’s life, I was a working, single mom. Life was hard, busy and beautiful. However, I learned quickly that only having one set of hands to take care of the chores just wasn’t enough. And as an elementary school teacher, there just wasn’t room in the budget for a live-in maid to complete these chores.
So, I put my toddler to work.
And I am so glad I did. By the time she was two, my daughter was able to do small household tasks for me that allowed me time to finish what I needed to. This gave us time to spend together. Her tasks included feeding the cat, throwing away garbage, cleaning up her bedroom floor, and even packing her own lunch. Yep, you read that right, my toddler packed her own lunch for daycare each morning.
Here she is “helping” with the vacuum. Just getting them involved is half the battle! Encourage their exploration.
I promise I’m not a magician
But I do have crazy high standards and expectations for my kid. I’m responsible for and raising a member of society and I refuse to raise a tiny terror who grows up to be a giant terror. Because let’s be honest, we all know a giant terror like that and they’re…well…not great.
I quickly realized that the more responsibility I gave my child, the more pride she began to have in the work she was doing. And selfishly, each task she was finishing on her own was one less that I had to do.
We all share the house, why not all take care of it?
This is the philosophy that I use with my family. This house is not just mine, it’s all of ours. We all use it and therefore we must all take care of it and make sure that it’s the best we can make it.
Everyone helps everywhere. It’s just how we are. We all help each other with our duties because we work together as a family in everything we do.
Now, it’s your turn
Get your kids helping around the house today! Just follow these three tips to help you get started…
Pick a few tasks your child can help you with around the house; matching socks while you do laundry, picking up sticks in the back yard, setting the table at dinner time. Choose one task to start with. Try and start with something that they can do at the same time every day to get into a routine.
As they begin to master this, you can add more on slowly.
Be a good role model
I remember when my brother sent this Snapchat. He was at my parents where my mom was watching my daughter while I was at work. He couldn’t believe that she had already learned how to use a sweeper but she simply learned by watching!
Kids are always watching. If you aren’t committed to your tasks, they won’t see a need to be to theirs. If you grumble about doing the dishes, they will grumble about taking out the trash. We all know there isn’t much glamour in scrubbing the kitchen floor but if you make it fun, the kids will join in on it. Sing about it, make up a goofy dance that goes along with what you’re doing and they’ll think you’re a rockstar. Plus, you’ll be making fun memories that last.
Praise a job well done
Acknowledge when your kid is doing a great job being on top of their tasks! Talk about it to them and to others. You would not believe how far a “You won’t believe how awesome Johnny is! He’s been my big helper. I’m so proud of him” can go when you share their triumphs with a teacher, grandma or mom-friend. Also, don’t forget to get down to their level and tell them how proud you are of all they do to help around the house.
Here she is today, completely unprompted, cleaning up her mess she made on the table at lunch time. Put in the time to teach them so you can have this as the reward!
Enjoy your extra time as a family
“Many hands make light work” is an old saying that I’ve heard my mother use a million times. I used to roll my eyes when I heard this as a kid, but it really is true.
When everyone comes together to take care of the house, you’ll be amazed at how much less burdensome life will feel. You will find yourself getting time back each day that you didn’t have before.
Use this time to engage with your family. Spend time together, play a board game, ask questions and learn more about your kids, and most importantly, have fun!
What are your secrets in getting the kids to help with chores?