Housework Help ….Hire Your Toddler! May 20 2013, 0 Comments

Toddler with watering canThe other day, my 3 year old gleefully wanted to Swiffer the kitchen floor (“of course” I said delighted at the unexpected help)!  30-seconds in, I had a terrible sinking feeling: WHAT AM I THINKING?  I was appalled at my own apparent “laziness.” Horrible mom-guilt set-in . My son should be happily creating chaos NOT cleaning it up. So – it was incredibly re-assuring when I went to the Mom Enough Mom’s Night Out Event and child development experts Marti and Erin Erickson, promoted the fact that it was OK and in-fact a GOOD thing to teach responsibility at this early age. When our kids are babies, toddlers and even preschoolers, moms have an inclination to be what Marti and Erin described as “Mom Too Much” – doing everything for our kids at, ultimately a dis-service to our kids, and of course, to us crazed and worn-out parents. Why teaching your 3 year old how to start a wash cycle on the laundry machine is OK. Teaching kids’ responsibility helps with their feeling of accomplishment and self-worth.  It also teaches them care and appreciation - for the environment and for themselves.  Even during my son’s truncated Swiffer experiment, he had this huge grin of pride on his face – he LOVED being able to contribute to our family. Increased responsibility leads to more independence and greater self-esteem and ultimately confidence which in the end is what we all want for our kids (confidence and happiness)! Great – how do I start teaching the art of doing chores? First off – I avoid the word “chore” – my stress level increases ten-fold when I think of that “dirty” word.  Kids should look forward to these activities as a way to contribute vs. something that’s completely unappealing.   “Mini-missions” or “assignments” or even “tasks” is far better. I was surprised to learn that it’s OK to start teaching responsibility at 18 months with simple activities such as picking up toys or putting trash in the garbage.   As they get older (3-5 years) – putting away groceries, folding laundry, setting the table and even “swiffering” is perfectly acceptable. One of the games we play with my son to make these tasks more fun is called “teamwork” time (a little trick we picked up from our rec T-ball league).  It’s a race to see who can clean up books, artwork, toys the fastest.  There are also plentitude of clean-up songs, jingles etc. that you can find on the internet (these never worked for us mostly because I never could remember the words & I felt silly singing them). A bonus for parents! Yes – teaching responsibility is great for kids but also, it’s a win for parents as well.  It gives us a few minutes (likely seconds) of down time, let’s us worry less about mess, helps us be more in the moment, and makes even the mundane tasks seem MORE PLAYFUL!