Written by Valerie Cleveland
Life can be seen as a series of tiny things built upon many other tiny things that slowly form us into who we are today. Like a river rock, we are shaped over time by the current of the water around us. This is especially true in regards to our work ethic. As a parent, you don’t begin the work of raising a helpful and self-sufficient child at the age of 16, 12, or even 8. You begin at 1 or 2 years old.
Here are a few easy ways to help your young children get involved around the house, for both your benefit and theirs.
- Cleaning Up at the End of the Day
Really, this one usually finds the parents to be at fault. When our children are young, it is easier to wait until they go to bed to pick up the toys scattered across the living room floor. We sigh and say to our spouse that tomorrow we will make them clean up. Instead, set aside the last ten minutes before bedtime to work as a family to pick up the clutter. Your kids will see cleaning modeled for them, learn how to work together, and you will have a more peaceful evening once they’re in bed.
- Don’t Walk Away from a Mess
Recently, I made my one-year-old clean up some juice he had spilled on the floor. Of course, I did the actual work, but after I had cleaned the mess, I handed him a wet wipe and had him copy my actions. Modeling is the truest form of teaching, but it’s still not enough. Without parents clearly defining expectations, our kids would never rise to the task. It is not mean to make your child stop and clean up before moving on to the next thing. Of course, help them if their age requires help, but strive to make your child part of the process.
- Find a Few Actual Chores They Can Accomplish
Start young and find some actual chores your children can take part of daily. Don’t let them watch you work day in and day out without incorporating them into the process. Imbed in their minds early that everyone in the household pitches in to keep things running smoothly. Here are a few ideas that have worked for my two young boys:
- Pulling out the utensil basket and sorting the silverware into the correct slot while Mommy unloads the dishwasher. My younger one wants in on it already, so sometimes he hands each utensil to big brother one at a time.
- We all participate in a super quick room pickup right before I vacuum each room. Very easy to make speed games out of this one.
- Setting and helping to clear the table. PSA: Maybe just stick with paper plates for this one…
- Anytime I’m wiping with Clorox wipes, I hand the kids a baby wipe and let them go to town with me.
- Washing Windows…don’t ask me why, but kids love this one.
I’ll admit, at first it feels counterproductive to bring small people in on a chore you could get done much faster by yourself. Don’t worry, kids are smart and after you teach them a couple of times, they’ll be able to do it alone. They won’t think it’s fun every time, trust me, we’ve had plenty of those conversations, too. But stick with it! You are training them to be disciplined, thoughtful, and naturally helpful humans. And remember:
The Chores of Today are Shaping the Work Ethic of Tomorrow!!