Before Addison was a year old, one of her favorite things to do was pull everything out of her drawers or baskets and put it back. As a first time mom, I cringed every time she did this because it was another mess I’d have to deal with but when I realized she wanted to help put things away too I started coming up with other tasks she could help me with that were age appropriate. As she’s grown older (and with Amelia too), they’re constantly wanting to help with everything and it makes both of them feel so special when they can help out at home. With each stage of their development I’ve tried to incorporate them into things they can do around the house and teaching them those life skills has been nothing short of a blessing. It’s incredible to see how proud of themselves they are when they do something and I’m always amazed to see how much they mimic my actions when I don’t even realize they’re watching.
Here are some ways I have my kids help out around our house that, at age (almost) four and two, they absolutely love:
Whenever I do the laundry, Amelia (who is two) helps me put all the dirty clothes in the washer and she helps move the clothes to the dryer. She’s still a little too young to fold but when I fold, she’s still right there grabbing clothes and balling them up for her own pile that I have to refold. She’s trying though and that’s what matters!
Addison (four) is a huge help with laundry and it will only get better as she gets older. She gathers all the laundry baskets from the bedrooms and brings them to the laundry room. She’s also the one who folds all the towels and washcloths and she’ll also try to fold her own clothes with some direction. When I finish folding everything, I’ll separate her clothes into small piles and she’ll put them away in their proper drawers.
IN THE KITCHEN:
Both girls are very into being involved in the kitchen whenever it comes to making meals. Anything I can let them do, I try to let them be involved. The cooking process is especially exciting for them (I let them measure things and pour them in or stir) but when things are already cooking, I have them set the table. They both get so happy when they can put their own dishes, cups, utensils and napkins out and when I’m feeling brave, I’ll let Addison take Andrew’s and my plates to the table (I still hold my breath though when she takes them!).
After meals, they know their plates and cups have to go to the kitchen sink after their excused from the table so it’s almost second nature to have little feet pitter pattering over to the kitchen counter after dinner (and it’s always nothing short of a miracle when the plate get there without being dropped).
We keep a basket for their shoes by the back door and whenever we get home they both know their shoes go in the basket and their coats go in the coat closet. One less thing I have to worry about. They also empty their backpacks of their lunch bags and both things in their proper place so we can easily find them when we need them next.
Before bed each night we have a quick ten minute clean up session of all the things. Whether it’s toys all over the house or one specific room, we all pitch in and do as much as we can for a good ten minutes (sometimes it goes over if the playing really was out of control that day). A lot of times this is me teaching Amelia how to clean up (telling her where to put things, etc.) while Addison hustles around the house making sure things go back where they belong. I wholeheartedly think cleaning up is a learned behavior and believe children don’t know how to “clean up” unless they’re taught. Amelia is still in the learning stages but Addison has it down pat by now. The other night I said her room was a disaster and she needed to clean it up before I vacuumed it. While I vacuumed the other rooms, she hustled and by the time I got to her room, every single thing was picked up off the floor and put away where it belonged and she even had started to make her bed. I was one proud mama!
I was raised to help out around the house when I was a child and I’m glad I’m instilling this into my own kids. They are still young enough to think that the ten minute clean up hustle or folding laundry is fun so it’s easy right now and the more they grow the more they’ll learn.
Do you give your kids specific tasks in the home? I would love to hear what kinds of things you have them do!