It seems this topic is hot on my mind, and I see remnants of the idea in conversations everywhere. At a gathering of friends the other morning, the topic of "coping with holiday business" came up, and the forefront concern was getting all the regular household chores done on top of all the added bustle. The conversation meandered along, leading to a dissection of how we as moms and wives handle chores in general.
Spurred on by my recent "Hotel or Home" post, I piped up quickly that my children would participate in things like laundry as soon as they could understand how to do it. I threw in the age of 8 or 10, just to be specific. I was met, however, with a hoard of disbelief. All sorts of comments arose, but the gist of them all seemed to be this:
"My children could never do it just the way I want it done."
Very, very true. And yet, in my opinion - very,very irrelevant. Currently my kids clothes are kept in their own laundry basket, and at the end of the week I toss it all into the washing machine (yes, unsorted), wash it, then toss it all into the dryer (no special treatment for one shirt or another), then toss it all into a laundry basket and haul it back upstairs. It is then folded and stored in one of four drawers (socks and underwear, pajamas, shirts, pants). Any 8 year old could handle this.
The big thing is letting go about "the way I want it done". If the clothes aren't folded squarely, if they aren't in the "proper" drawer - so what? If the kitchen floor has a crumb or two left after sweeping, or a fingerprint is left on the TV - resist the urge to "do it right" and therefore negating the effort put forth by your child. They can do this - they should do this. As a part of the family, it is nothing more than pitching in where they live. I have a favourite t-shirt that reads "M is for Mom, not Maid" and I intend to make sure my kids understand this.
Today Colin (3 years) vacuumed with me. I pushed the massive beast around, but he used the hose to clean against the walls and furniture. I didn't do it first and then let him "vacuum" up after, and I didn't take the hose from him after to pick up what he missed. I provided instructions ("look for all the little crumbs") and then let him go to. He also matches socks for me, picks up his own toys, puts his clothes in the hamper and makes his bed. Okay - he still need reminders, he is only three after all, but he's starting to get the idea.
Stay tuned for a post coming up on "The Parenting Breakthrough". I wrote about this book a while back, and now that Colin is three I have compiled a list of responsibilities and abilities that we will work with him this year to learn. He is starting on the pathway to independence.