I am a firm believer in personal responsibility. So I started having my kids help with chores at an early age. I had read a comment once that a parent must be very lazy to make small children do chores. To which one mother responded by asking if they have ever tried to do chores with the “help” of small children. Truly lazy parents just do it themselves because it is a lot more work to try to get kids involved. I have to say I agree with the latter, due to personal experience. Here is a run down of some of the chores my girls “help” with:
- Picking up – I try to stay on top of the kids throughout the day so that they get into the habit of putting things away once they are done using them. This task has all the signs of futility, and inevitably we have a disaster on our hands by the end of the day. So before we read stories and sing songs, we pick up our toys. This task takes me about 5 minutes when I just do it on my own. Of course with the girls this task takes at least 45 minutes. Sasquatch likes to have one of her stuffed animals help her. So the stuffed animal must pick things up with its little arms and no fingers or opposable thumbs. Obviously not the most efficient way to clean. Urpling likes to take this time to play with each toy for a few minutes before putting it away. She gets very upset if she can’t, almost like she has to say goodbye to each one before putting it away. I’ve tried the clean up song to speed things up. (clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere) This works at first, but only as long as you keep singing it. As it only has two lines, I can’t bring myself to sing it over and over again for 45 minutes straight.
- Laundry – The girls LOVE to help me fold laundry. Why? Because they have discovered a wonderful game that makes it so much fun. The game is to grab articles of clothing as fast as you can out of the basket and then whip it with all your might at Mommy’s head and then giggle hysterically as she scrambles to quickly fold it before the next onslaught.
- Dusting – I give each of the girls a rag, spray a surface, and let them wipe it down. Their aim and thoroughness leave something to be desired. They often wipe down the area right next to where I sprayed, and if they do hit the right spot they only wipe a part of it and then announce that they’re done. So I end up dusting those areas again once they go to bed.
- Sweeping – they each take a smaller broom and “help” sweep. They usually like to sweep the pile I had already made, scattering it to the four winds. Then I go back and recollect it, just to have them do it again.
- Setting the table – I obviously have not reached a level of trust where the girls can help carry liquids or breakable dishes to the table. But they want to help, so I give them other things to carry. Plastic dishware and silverware are good examples. The silverware usually end up at random spots around the table, but not in front of any actual chair. There are the inevitable spills when they carry any food item, and they also like to sample the food as they carry it to the table.
- Unload the dishwasher – The same rules of breakable objects applies here as well. But they love to put the silverware away. I grab the sharp objects first then let them have at it. They put the silverware in the correct drawer, but just chucked in there willy-nilly. So I have to unload the drawers later and put the silverware in their appropriate slots.
Chores in our house are as far from efficient as you can get. But my kids are helping, learning responsibility, and having fun with mommy all at the same time. So based on that, I would say every day is a success!