In theory, I know I should be happy whenever my little one tries to help me out around the house. But in reality such offers really have a way of stressing me out because I can be sure that in the process of ‘helping’, more work will be created.
However the more I say NO, the more pestered I get. Besides ‘working’ with her is actually another opportunity for me to bond with her and teach her a thing or two while making her feel important and relevant. So rather than shutting her down what I now do is practice controlled involvement.
For example if I am washing the dishes, I create a special washing spot for my little girl, right next to me. There, she has her own dishes to wash and a bowl of water to rinse in. I normally will not give her more than maybe a plate and a spoon at a time and obviously these items are always plastic. I am also very careful to ensure that these items are not too messy in order to avoid her making too big a mess with them. On days I can get away with it, I may even give her a clean plate to wash.
The same goes for when I am doing the laundry. I may give her a pair of socks to wash or a little T-shirt to fold. The whole idea is to engage her while I busy myself with the bulk of the chores.
As for while cooking, I will be the first to say that it’s best she is out of the kitchen when the actual cooking (especially frying) begins. But before then I could give her an egg to beat in a big bowl or I’ve even sat her down and allowed her put in her own quota to the pancake mix.
However while engaging your children this way, you would have to prepare yourself for the following…
1. Prepare to tidy up after them because they are likely to leave a measure of mess, depending on what exactly their task is. However to ensure that the mess doesn’t build up to a truckload ensure you keep one eye on them while you do your own bit. For example, there was a day I totally left my daughter to sweep a certain spot in the living room. When I returned my attention back to her I found the broom all scattered around the living room. That mess would have been avoided if I had been watching her because then, I would have been able to caution her in good time.
2. Prepare to redo whatever task your little one ‘completes’. For example, I usually rewash the items she washes. But, I definitely will not redo these chores in front of her if not the whole purpose of making her feel relevant and useful will be forfeited.
3. Prepare to bond because giving your child this opportunity to ‘take charge’ is going to make her feel like she is finally much more than a child – she is your partner. To her this an important status you have graciously promoted her to. She is therefore likely to also promote you from ‘mom’ to ‘friend’, giving you the perfect opportunity to bond a bit more with her.
4. Prepare for questions because as she goes along she may ask for help or want to know why things are being done in a certain way. Even though you may be tired and just eager to get the job done, be patient enough to make it not just a fun time for her but also a learning process for the future.
5.Be extra careful because behind your back, they may try to ‘Do It Themselves’. For example, behind my back, my daughter has placed her play pots on the cooker in an attempt to ‘cook’. Good enough the gas was turned off from the mains. So my question will be what precautionary measures have you taken to ensure that unattended, your child doesn’t even visit the kitchen at all? Have you taken away that stool that can help your child reach that washing detergent? Are your dishes kept away in a safe cupboard? In essence, I hope you have done enough to ensure that your child cannot engage in any of these tasks unsupervised.
Does your little one try to help out around the house? Do you let her or do you shut her down? If you let her, how do you two get along working together? Do share your story with us…
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