Getting it Done with Little Ones, Part #2

The operative word here is ‘with‘. I’m thankful for the writings of the Pearl children as well as the example of several wise friends that inspired me to involve my children in whatever I was doing from the very beginning. The whole idea is that you are creating a time of fellowship with your child as you work together, and letting your child experience the joy and satisfaction of a job well done at a very young age. Life is work, and work brings joy and satisfaction when approached with the right attitude. Imparting this to your child is one of the best gifts you can give them!

This month I’ve started to teach Jesse how to make our morning oatmeal. Getting the oats soaking the night before is a perfect job for my 3 year old, as it doesn’t involve using the stove.

Involving a two year old child in a chore invariably means more work for you, not less, but when they are young you must consider this extra effort and time as an investment in your future. Within a few short years, your effort to foster a love of work in your child will begin to bear fruit. By the age of 3 or 4 a child can handle simple, independent assignments, such as fetching items or cleaning up their own toys. If a mother continues to patiently train this child, by the age of 8 they may be baking bread or cleaning a bathroom on their own! (I’ve seen this with my own eyes!). This is not slave labor, mind you – if they see a proper attitude toward work modeled, they will take great pride and satisfaction in their own little responsibilities.

So, there’s the theory behind involving your children in your work. Now let’s get down to the practical how-to’s of that idea.

Here he is measuring 4 cups of oats, then we add enough water till the oats are ‘swimming’. I add a little whey and he gets to stir it.(complete recipe here.)

As soon as a child can walk and carry a toy simultaneously, then can be given a very appropriate chore – throwing away their own soiled diapers. I started Claire on this several months ago, and she is now a pro. As soon as I’ve got her pants snapped up, I pull her to her feet and hand her the tightly wrapped bundle, and give her the clear command to “go throw it away!” She gets this little light in her eyes and heads straight for the kitchen. Once she has tipped her bundle over the edge of the trash and heard the “thump” at the bottom, she gets the most satisfied little grin on her face, as well as effusive praise from mommy.

Other chores the very youngest child can do –
– help clean up toys
– put dirty laundry in the hamper
– stand beside mommy on a chair and ‘help’ rinse dishes (this is a favorite at our house! Though it usually means mommy has to mop the floor afterward. Oh, well – it needed to be done anyway!)
– putting away bath toys at the end of bath time

…you get the idea – lots of simple little chores can be done by small children if you are patient enough to guide them through it.

Oops – we spilled some oats! No big deal – he knows where the broom is and how to use it! Yes, I have to sweep after he does, but that’s O.K., too. It’s all part of the process.

When deciding how much responsibility a child can handle, one must consider personalities. Each child will be different and have differing abilities and ages when they can complete a chore. When I taught Jesse to carry his own diaper, he was able to preform this chore independently after only a few days. Claire, however, reminds me of her mother…she gets distracted very easily on the short journey from the couch to the kitchen. I have to shadow her almost every time, gently guiding her and reminding her of the task at hand. So unlike Brother, who was known to patrol the house for forgotten diapers and dispose of them without prompting. He was also capable of fetching a clean diaper when it was time fore a change. Claire is not capable of following that instruction yet – again, she’d get so distracted if I sent her into the bathroom on her own, I’d be the rest of the day cleaning up the mess! So, you have to be sensitive to your kids levels of development. Don’t push them too hard, ’cause the whole goal is that they enjoy working with you.

Are you inspired and willing to let your kids help you, even if it means it takes a little more patience? Let’s pray together for that patience! What chores do you do with your kids? Next time we’ll explore more chores that little ones can do – leave your ideas in the comments!

2 responses to “Getting it Done with Little Ones, Part #2”

  1. mira Avatar

    yup, takes many times longer, but is SOOOO worth it.
    Raising capable, confident kids aside, teaching them how (and why) to do things also implies that they are more important to their parents than mess, convenience, or the like.

    what chores do my lo's do? hmm…they tidy their own room (with me there to give guidance), bring the laundry to the machine and help sort, vacuum (we have a mini machine that is just right), stir all manner of ingredients, wash surfaces (homemade windex for glass, diluted dish soap elsewhere), tear/cut paper for the compost, feed the pets…and that's just off the top of my head! No wonder I never get anything else done, lol.

  2. matt and shell Avatar
    matt and shell

    You are such an inspiration to me !! Wow, my little guy is very young yet.. too young to “help” but I am so glad for your great example.
    Thanks for the encouragement to always better myself as a mother!

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