Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Child labor

I've heard mothers complain that they can't get anything done because their little ones get in the middle of things. When my girls were at the age to get in the middle of things, I put them in the middle of things. I figured they would either learn to help or go find some way to entertain themselves.

Let's take a walk through my house and I'll tell you the chores my girls have (age 8yrs and almost 5yrs) and how I got them started.

Kitchen Counters: Put them on a chair or stool with a dry or damp cloth and let them "wash." Or you can give them a towel after you have cleaned a counter and tell them to "shine" it. Now my older daughter does a pretty good job on her own.

Dishes: turn the faucet on low or put a little water in the bottom of the sink (depending on the depth of the sink and your child's height and reach). Allow them a few small cups or spoons—nothing that holds a lot of water, because it will end up on you, your child, and the floor. They can scoop and pour. You can even give them a small brush. Both of my daughters can rinse dishes as I wash. When my girls tried to help with the dishwasher, I switched to dishwasher and kid friendly dishes. Have them hand you the dishes (as they get older, they can stack them on the counter). If you don't want slobbery toddler hands on your clean dishes, have them load the dirty dishes (perhaps after you've rinsed them).

Floors: I got my kids the college dorm type sweeper vacs and brooms (these tend to be smaller sized).

Dusting: Depending on the fragility and location of your decorations, they can dust shelves, table tops, blinds, etc.

Bathrooms: The sinks and counters can be done like the ones in the kitchen. For even more fun, hand your child a small spray bottle of water and set them in the bathtub and/or shower. You can give them a brush or rag, too. My younger daughter has recently learned to scrub toilets as well. I keep cheap, liquid hand soap in the toilet brush holder (make sure it's the type that can hold a couple inches of liquid in the bottom).

Laundry: A great first step is training your child to put their dirty clothes in a laundry basket as they get ready for bed at night. My daughters love to drag the laundry baskets to the laundry room for me. Would you believe that they get upset if I do it? I only sort my clothes in four main categories: darks, lights, reds/pinks, towels and washcloths. As your child learns their colors, they can learn these categories, too. When they learn to read, they can learn how to read the clothing labels as to how they need to be washed. Emptying the dryer is an easy task for little ones to help with. You can always have them help fold their own clothes (I personally don't care if their clothes look a little wrinkled because they are going to get dirty and wrinkled as soon as they are put on anyway) or hand towels and washcloths.

Toys: When teaching preschool, to help the kids know where to put the toys away, I printed pictures off the internet of the various toys then attached them to shelves and baskets of where the toys were to be stored. You can cut a picture off the packaging of toys, take a [digital] picture and upload to the computer then print, or just search the internet for a picture and print. Attach the picture to the basket or shelf (only on plastic—I'm not responsible for wood, wicker or other materials) with clear packing tape or clear contact paper so you can see the picture.

Garage: If your child can stomp, make sure they have on shoes and let them stomp those cardboard boxes (cereal boxes and such) that are ready to be recycled. I collect the trash, tie off the bags and leave them by the garage door for my older daughter to take out to the trash bin. She also takes the recycling out.

As you can see there are lots of ways for kids to learn to help out around the house early. Why should mom (or dad) have to do all the dirty work? Isn't that why we had kids?

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