Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Children and Chores

Doing the Laundry early in the morning, doesn't he look excited?  lol

It wasn't long before I realized I had to do something about Jacob.  More specifically his ability to turn into a wild-eyed heathen at the first sign of boredom.  And no I didn't medicate him, don't even get me started on that topic. 

I tried to entertain him, which was my first mistake.  I would pull out all the stops; toys, games and yes even TV, (SHHHH.....don't tell anyone!) all in the name of me being able to get some housework done and dinner on the table. 

Without, what I would call, formal child training, as in my mother teaching me or having the advantage of younger siblings or babysitting, I was at whits end.  Discipline didn't seem to be effective; Jason and I felt that we were only discouraging him. 

Then, one day ,in the middle of a bout of morning sickness, while cleaning the bathroom and trying to keep Jacob from literally bouncing off the walls I handed him the toilet brush, "Scrub!" I said.  He looked at me and smiled as if he held in his hand the most wonderful thing in the world.  He was 18 months when he found joy in scrubbing the toilet with the toilet brush. 

The merits of this were 3 fold:
1) It kept him "entertained" or busy.  Idle hands for Jacob lead to mischief LOTS of mischief.

2) It gave him a sense of satisfaction that you would not believe.  He bragged for days about cleaning that toilet!  He wanted to clean it everyday.

3) My toilet stayed clean : )  Seriously, it was a huge help to have him so willing and able to do this small task when I spent my time laying on the couch in morning sickness agony. 

His list of things he "could do" grew.  By the time he was 2 1/2 he was helping with more house and yard work than most teenagers I knew.
Doing dishes.  More like playing int he bubbles. : )
Currently at the age of 3 he successfully completes the following tasks:

-Meal time
  - sets dishes and silverware on table
  - helps clear table and wipes it down
  -occasionally helps wash dishes
     -brings the laundry basket (clothes are sorted into different baskets)
     -loads the washer and pours in the soap I've measured up for him
     -Starts the washer (i set the dial for him)
     - when the washer is through I toss the wet clothes onto the dryer door and he pushes them inside, adds
        a dryer sheet and hits the on button.
 - Living Areas
     - dusts everything with a feather duster
     - vacuums couch and carpet in bedrooms
-Picks up all of his toys and puts them up properly
-helps me make the beds
- throws things away
-picks up the yard
With his dad
-feeds the dogs and chickens and collects eggs (this is one we are currently working on)
- helps take out trash
-hands Daddy tools and puts them back etc

 (I believe there are more, I just can't think of them right now, its become like second nature) sounds like he does everything doesn't it?  Honestly he only does one major chore a day and then we work on everything else together. (I.E. I'm cleaning the bathroom mirrors while he wipes down the counters)  And trust me, I don't make him do it really.  He volunteers, begs and pleads.  He was made to work, to accomplish, to conquer, as are all boys I believe.

When I wanted him to hep me with something I start by showing him how I do it.  Then, I let him help with one small part of it.  For example, to start with the would only push the clothes into the dryer, the next time I let him do that and add the dryer sheet, the next time he pushed the button.  If he has difficulty I gently guide him, but I am lucky in the fact that he picks new skills up relatively easy like his Father.

If he didn't seem interested I would go ahead and start the task and he would come running over to help.  Very few times has he done this, he usually has to remind me to advance the laundry.  : )

I hope that I am teaching him responsibility and life skills he can use.  I hope that he is feeling accomplished in a job well done. I hope that I am teaching him that as a family we all work together to help each other and it is not all about "me, me, me!" as our culture would have us believe.

  I plan to continue with this practice for my second youngin' Michael.  I believe this will also help develop teamwork skills and camaraderie when brothers begin to work side by side.

This is a great link I found of a list of chores by age.  I can pretty much check off everything for the 3 year old category. 

So, in closing, don't feel discouraged when you feel like the toys need to be put away and your toddler, YES your TODDLER, should help you with something.  It may take you twice as long but the rewards are enormous.  Especially, if you have a ball of boy dynamite on your hands : )
After a hard morning, nothing like crackers, puzzles and a nap


  1. I think this is wonderful. You've done a fantastic job of instilling a great work ethic, sense of inderpendence, and confidence in Jacob at a very early age.

    I gotta say. This is an area where I struggle. I sometimes feel like I wait on my 4 boys hand and foot. And, I worry that I've missed that golden time to teach them to be active family members through chores.

    We're getting there though. Through the whining and the moaning we're getting there.

  2. Impressive!!!!!

    Keep up the good work! :)