Friday, February 11, 2011

Put 'Em to Work

If you recently became a stay at home mom, you're likely surprised that it's not as easy as you expected to knock out that to do list with little ones running around and needing something almost constantly. Wish you could afford a helper? Well your kids are free help, and are more than likely happy to do it! Our kids are only one and two, yet both help load the dishwasher, cook, do the laundry, get the mail, wipe the tables and sweep/vacuum/mop the floors. Do they do a great job? No, and I redo most of it while we're working. Does it take ten times longer? Yes. Do they have fun? You bet! Not only does this create an environment that encourages teamwork, but we get much more done than I would if I were doing it myself and then cleaning up the messes they made while I was working. It also gives my children a sense of accomplishment and importance as members of our family (and community when we get them involved in working/volunteering for a non-profit or church).

Besides, how can I expect my children to want to do chores when they are older if they spent their childhood being entertained all day and seeing mom do all the work? Or not even seeing the work get done because it was after bedtime? One of the best pieces of advice I received when we were expecting our first baby was this: start the way you mean to go, changing the rules of the game later will only frustrate both sides. How many times have I thought, if I had just invested the time in the beginning we wouldn't even have this struggle right now?

The hard part is that for most of us, myself included, this idea goes against our perception of what "childhood" is. After all, they only get to be a kid for a short time right? Yes, and it goes both ways. I believe we should teach our kids how to help with the housework so they'll be more likely to help (and like it) later, but we should also teach them that kids aren't the only ones who can have fun, and the fun shouldn't end with childhood. So let your kids see you enjoying your own "playtime"-whether it's through hobbies, joining an adult sports team or just goofing around. Is all work and no play (or all play and no work) good for anyone?

My sister in law said it well, one thing we know for sure is that our kids will need to work one day (in a job and in their home), so what better gift can we give than teaching them how to enjoy it?

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