Teaching our children to be responsible and helpful is something that can start at a very young age. I remember when Caroline was just a few months old- I found myself using her nap time to get things done. I vacuumed during naps only; I did the dishes during naps, etc. One day, I decided to vacuum while she was awake. She was afraid of the vacuum. It dawned on me that she needed to have exposure to these things. One, I didn’t want her afraid of the vacuum or a broom, etc. Two, I wanted her (even at that young age), to see these tasks getting done. She should be aware that they happen, and eventually taught more about these tasks so she can be involved.
From that day on, I made it a point to do some of the daily household “chores” with her around. As she’s gotten older, she’s not only been aware of these tasks, she is now excited to help! She even does some of these tasks without my asking her to do so.
Tasks that Caroline is involved with:
– Putting laundry away
– Unloading the dishwasher
– Feeding the dog
– Cleaning up a spill
– Cleaning up her toys
– Putting groceries away
– Putting things in the trash
– Putting diapers in the diaper pail
– Helping to sweep
– Putting dirty clothes in the hamper
– Putting shoes away
– Wiping off surfaces
– Wiping herself (face, hands, and wiping on the potty)
– Helping to carry things
– Handing things to me or daddy when asked
– Watering the plants
– Pulling weeds
Caroline is 18 months old, and has been participating in these “chores”, or household tasks, for quite some time now. The list has obviously grown as she’s been able to handle more difficult tasks. She absolutely loves being able to help like a big girl and have independence. I think it is so important to teach these concepts early, when they are eager to help and to learn. We make things enjoyable and don’t see them as chores. In fact, I doubt we’ll ever call them chores. It will just be an expectation in our house that she helps out whenever possible (just as Mama and Daddy do).
We still help her with things like putting her toys away. We are usually playing with her, so we participate in the clean up process as well. When she was really young, we asked that she simply put one block in the bin. Now she does all of the blocks, while I put away her stuffed animals, etc. It is always a team effort! We thank and praise her every time for a job well done. If she refuses to do something, we tell her our expectation and find a way to get her to participate. There are always exceptions, but 99% of the time we DO NOT just do it ourselves to get the task done. As with teaching anything, I think it is important to set high (yet reasonable) expectations and goals, explain those to our children, be consistent, involve them as much as possible (so they gain ownership of the process), keep it fun, and work as the family team that we are!