“Mama, wait for me!” her worried little voice calls as she hurries into her little boots. I half sigh, half rejoice as I turn to wait for that sweet and slow two year old who wants to help carry the pail as I head out for the morning milking. “ I cut up the onions all by myself.” a proud girl tells her daddy at the supper table that was set haphazardly by small helping hands.
Sometimes in the busy of the day, it seems easiest to hurry through my work on my own. After all if I can just get everything done, I will have more time to spend with the girls. However, I realize that is a disservice to them and to myself. I think that it is easy to underestimate the ability and need for children, even small children, to take part in the daily work. What better way is there to learn how to cook, care for a house, yard, and animals than while working alongside a Mama or Daddy?
Confession: I’ve been really lacking in this area lately. I was chatting about it with a friend just today in fact. Months ago I got small canvases to paint pictures of the daily chores on that we would have a on line in the kitchen to remind us of what needed doing. They are still sitting waiting to be painted. I’ve been rushing to make meals at the last minute so haven’t had time for helpers. Dan or I blitz through the house trying to keep up the hurricane to a minimum. And it has been reflecting. Rather than being played with and put away, toys are being strewn everywhere. Clothing is being unfolded and dumped. Shoes left where they were kicked off.
Do you know what is silly? I LOVE doing work with the girls and they are brilliant helpers. Cecily has great fun collected laundry and loading the washing machine so why don’t I ask her to run around collecting the towels? Aneliese loves using the spray bottle so why don’t I have her wipe the mirrors? Meals made together are filled with fun and someday they will be able to take care of making a meal as a result. Playing a song and racing to pick up all the toys before it is finished leaves us all breathless and laughing. As we are all collectively aware of what needs to be done and put the doing into practice, daily life becomes a little simpler. As the girls help fold and put away the laundry, they begin to understand why it isn’t a good idea to empty their drawers while playing. While there aren't a lot of tasks that they are able to tackle alone, there are many that they can do with minimal guidance.
I’m not really feeling bad because I know that life and parenting is all about cycles and learning. I am committing myself again to setting up our daily work in such a way that encourages the girls to join in. And if I ever get our chore plan made up, maybe I will share it! And, really, that picture of Cecily just makes me laugh.
How do you encourage your children to help with the daily work of your home? I'd love to have any tips and seasoned practice you may have!