Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Big Jobs for Little Hands

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It takes a lot of work to take care of little kids and take care of a house. They are practically on a mission to destroy your best efforts right behind you. Sometimes I pretty much give up and clean up after they go to bed so that I can enjoy the cleanliness of my house without it being destroyed 5 seconds later. But I have found that my kids really do love to help, even if they aren't doing a job perfectly, and it keeps them busy while I do other things I need to do. So here are some things that I have found that my little ones can do.

When they are around 2, they can do little, short tasks, because that is all they can remember and all they can really follow through with. And I've found that they need a little motivation, like a song, cleaning with them, or cleaning with an older sibling. They can help with things like:
1. washing windows (give them a towel or paper towel after you have sprayed it)
2. helping to unload the dishwasher (my 2 year old hands all the dishes to my 5 year old, and she stacks them appropriately on the counter, and I just put them away. I wish I would have thought of this when I was pregnant and bending down was difficult!!)
3. taking things to their room (especially if they have a play grocery cart, you can load it up with things that go to their room, and they will be glad to push it!)
4. getting their own diaper, shoes, shirts, etc. (if they can reach something that you need them to bring somewhere, why not ask them to get it? They may or may not, but praise them if they do!)
5. a rag with water (if you give them something to clean, a rag, and some water, it may or may not get cleaned, but they will be occupied for at least 30 minutes!
6. Putting their dirty clothes into the laundry basket
7. Putting their shoes away/in their room upon returning home
8. wiping off the table (might not be super efficient, but they love doing it!)
9. dusting (give them a washcloth and a certain area to dust, praise them!)
10. putting on their own shoes (if they can)

When they are around 5 (I picked these ages because that's how old mine are, so those are the ages I know. Certainly there are other chores they can do at other ages, and more things they can do when they are older/younger!) they can be such a big help. And I have found that they want to help, enjoy the praise when they do a good job, love the independence of doing something they have seen you do, and are learning the value of the work that goes into keeping a home. I especially value this for my 5 year old girl, who may be taking care of a home someday. They take it for granted when everything is done for them, and when they learn a little bit of hard work, they start to understand what it takes to be responsible and get things done throughout the day. I especially love the extra time I get with Maddy since we homeschool, so she can see what I do all day long, observe, and one day learn how to do things! Baby steps, people!  So here are some jobs that they can do at around 5 years old:
1. fold washcloths (I gave Maddy this job one day, and she proceeded to fold a whole load of laundry!)
2. put washcloths/towels away (I used to let her put her clothes away, and then she was just shoving them in her drawers, defeating the purpose of folding them.)
3. using the hose to vacuum corners
4. making their bed
5. cleaning their room (Maddy often doesn't do a great job cleaning her room, and I have been meaning to make a visual chart so she knows which things to clean up. Like pictures of toys, shoes, clean clothes, dirty clothes, etc. so she can move through the list, checking each thing off and also teaching her how to clean her room)
6. putting silverware away from the dishwasher (teaches sorting)
7. teaching their younger sibling a chore that they know (helps them be patient, learn how to teach, and keeps 2 kids occupied at once!)
8. switching laundry from washer to dryer, and from dryer to basket
9. taking out their own trashcan, or all the trashcans to a central location the day before trash pickup
10. sweeping
11. feeding their pet (maddy gives the dog food and water, and lets her out of her cage and opens the door to let her outside)
12. washing windows
13. helping to watch the baby (she can sit with her and keep her happy while I do housework)
14. wiping off the dining room table, kitchen counters, bathroom counters
15. clearing the dining room table after a meal (teaches them how to put things away, keep their place clean)
16. cleaning up after their own messes
17. putting their coat/bag/shoes away upon returning home
18. picking up their toys when they are done playing
19. getting the mail (ours is right on our front porch)
20. dusting

I love that instead of making more of a mess for you, you can actually get your kids to work together to clean something, which accomplishes so many things all at once!! It is a lot of work to take care of a house, but your 5 and 2 year old don't need to be sitting on the couch watching tv or running around fighting and making a mess all the time while you clean. Put them to work, and watch for results!! Teaching them some responsibility is a great gift you can give them at this young age! I do, however, think you need to be careful not to make your kids slaves and make them do everything in your house! It is hard to find the balance sometimes, between teaching your kids responsibility and making them do everything around the house. They should definitely be responsible for themselves as they get older, but I do believe they should have a fun childhood as well, and not spend it taking care of the whole house! We have to model hard work for them too, so that they will see what it looks like to work hard and not be lazy. If we make them do everything and we are lazy, then they will resent hard work and will not want to continue it into adulthood. Modelling laziness and teaching hard work is not a good combination!
So there you have it! There's my two sense!! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any other jobs for little hands that would be helpful to other moms!!

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