There’s been a lot of back and forth about kids doing chores around the house. Some say it takes away from letting a kid be a kid while others say it teaches responsibility.
I think the real concern is, how it’s enforced.
Of course it’s essential that a child does not grow up in prison-like conditions, where they are forced to do hard labor. But do you want your child to grow up to the opposite extreme of having no clue how to care for themselves or do basic things like cook and clean!?
The key is: know your limits.
I want my children to be able to take care of themselves. They should know how to prepare a meal or do their own laundry.
If I wait too long to introduce the concept of helping around the house they might grow up with the misunderstanding that everything gets done for them.
I don’t plan on making chores a burden for them because they don’t need a full sense of adult responsibility yet, but they do need to understand that there won’t always be someone to pick up after them.
A lot of teenagers get slapped in the face with that cold reality of “adulting” when they go off to college. It’s our job as parents to ease them into that. It’s also our job to let them be kids and enjoy themselves.
How to Go About It
Let your child follow you while you do the laundry or put away the groceries, see how they react. Ask if they want to help you put the clothes in the machine or some of your groceries away.
They may not be able to do a lot when they’re little but there’s no harm in showing them how to do some of it.
Helping with Laundry & Putting Things Away
My kids love throwing their clothes in the machine. They know that I do the rest, like put the detergent and turn it on, but they watch and they learn.
Don’t expect your child to be folding the clothes though, that part is best to do separately sometimes if you actually want to get it done. But sometimes I fold while my child plays nearby or says he’s folding too, even though he’s doing it “wrong.” You can always turn it into a game.
Same goes for putting away groceries, obviously some things you should handle yourself though.
My son loves helping my put away bottled drinks, sometimes I even wait for him to do it.
Helping in the Kitchen
Cooking with babies and toddlers is a little trickier. I’m not much for the kitchen so I don’t tend to do this much with my kids and it can be a little dangerous too.
I’ll admit, the reason I’m cooking with an infant in my arms in this first picture was because she wouldn’t let me put her down, but look how much she enjoyed it!
If you find a way to cook with your child watching or participating they will love it.
I tend to do this mostly when I bake because I want to keep them away from knives and the stove, plus I’m usually trying to cook in a hurry. But I do often bake with my son and he begs to join me.
I put a chair next to me on the counter and he climbs up (you can also get stools designed for toddlers in the kitchen) to watch and partially participate. We measure and mix the ingredients and then put them on the muffin pan or cookie sheets before putting them in the oven.
I explain the whole process to him and how we have to wait for the oven to bake our cookies or muffins and then we get to enjoy them.
Every time he eats a baked good he explains to me how we made them together, I think he enjoys his food (not just the baked goods) more this way.
As they’re getting a little bit older, they can be more and more helpful.
See How Your Kids Like Helping
If you manage to find a few chores around the house to do with your kids at this young age that you could do together they will strongly benefit and soon be asking to do it by themselves.
Babies and toddlers love to do chores, they want to be just like us, so why not let them help or give them a task to “help” you.
Have them watch you and show them the steps of how things are done. And make it fun!
Sometimes I realize that they can’t always help so I let them do it their own way.
In the kitchen, I handed my son some baking tools on the floor and he said he was making me muffins.
I had him help me put away my laundry and while I folded he started dressing himself in my unfolded shirts.
Sometimes they just need to feel involved. They’re more observant and understanding than we think.
Sure, doing chores with babies and toddlers takes a little bit longer and doesn’t always work out but they’re learning, willing to help, and this way you may actually get your things in order and find time to relax during their nap time!