Helpful Kids, Happy Mom

I just read a wonderful blog post by They’re Not Our Goats about letting your kids do real work. This is something I’ve always supported, but in some ways been afraid to share because a lot of parents these days seem to think making your kids do real work, or even chores, is wrong or cruel. So I was really thrilled to learn I’m not the only mom out there who is making her kids useful and finding it has great benefits.

My kids want to be involved in EVERYTHING I do. They want me to actively play with them ALL the time. But quite often, there’s chores that need to be done around the house that keep me from sitting on the floor to play with them. I always felt guilty about not giving them my full attention, especially because really, who wants to wash another load of dishes or fold another load of laundry? Not me, that’s for sure. But someone has to do it.

So it occurred to me one day while I was making them wait patiently, that I should make more of an effort to include them in stuff I have to get done anyway.

Now, it does help matters that my kids want to help. But even if your kids aren’t naturally inclined that way, if they see you holding onto a happy spirit and “whistling while you work,” they’ll keep that lesson in their heart in later years when they’re old enough to do chores in order to earn the wi-fi password or however you’re going to do it when they’re older.

No matter what the future holds, there will always be housework, and although that could be a grim statement, all it takes is an attitude change to turn it into an enjoyable activity.

As Mary Poppins would say, “You find the fun, and snap! the job’s a game!” (Cue music…)

And just as the smart nanny said, “Every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake!”

Speaking of cake, it’s not all cleaning chores. 😉 They’re wonderful helpers when it comes to bread, too! We’ve been trying to bake more of our own bread and pie crusts and rolls and such, and that’s just the sort of mix they can be really helpful with because there’s (usually) no eggs!

They can both help count the ingredients when it’s scoops: “4 cups of flour!” Or they can pour pre-measured ingredients. A great side effect of this is that they’re much more likely to eat food they’ve helped prep! (Check out more ideas in my past post “Toddler in the Kitchen“.)

From cleaning dishes to cleaning toys, my kids LOVE to play in the water. Might as well add some soap along the way…

We’ve been learning from mistakes, as well. I managed to dump a half cup’s worth of rye flour on the floor (of course it would’ve been exactly what I needed!) so I said, “Oops! It’s okay. Mommy made a mistake. I’ll clean it up.” Bean wanted to help but I told him it was my mistake so I needed to clean it. Well, not 10 minutes later as we finished up, Bean wanted to help put the sugar away so he picked up the big container and accidentally dropped it on the floor where the lid popped off and sugar went everywhere. Much to my delight, his immediate reaction was to say, “Oops! I sorry, Mommy. I make mistake. I clean up. It’s okay.” And he went around the corner and found the dust pan and promptly started sweeping!

So helpful! Of course, I helped him get it all and did a final wipe, but he had so much fun cleaning he wanted to keep sweeping the whole house! (I think he was channeling the mouse in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, one of his favorite books. 😉 )

And just to prove my kids aren’t always cleaning my house, here’s a picture of Bird enjoying Cinderella.

Speaking of which, have you noticed how many Disney movies show people of all levels cleaning? Even princesses clean!

So as you clean this week, don’t forget to get the kids involved, too! It’s a life lesson they’ll thank you for later in life!

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