It seems as though every time I am trying to really get something done my kids are right there with a different plan in mind. Unfortunately, it is usually a plan that involves more time and a whole lot more clean up. The solution I needed was to create some ideas for working with little ones under foot.
Daily Life with Kids
When it comes to getting things done around the house I have found the best response to a little face asking if they can help is easy.
Give them a job.
I might add that it is very important to be clear in what the job is that you expect them to accomplish. Tractor Man tends to drift off if not given a very direct responsibility. I’m pretty sure that most kids are like this though 😉
Why Kids Helping Matters
I also want to add that Sir Swine and I are big believers in hard work for young bodies. Both of us grew up on hobby farms and had our share of work in our youth.
Responsibility for kids is a piece of character that needs to be learned early on. After all, it is so much easier for them to understand and take pride in things like caring for the dog and keeping their own room clean. Believe it or not but Tractor Man’s greatest joy is when we tell him we are proud of him.
Tasks the Little Ones can Help With
Small children can really provide big challenges when it comes to trying to accomplish tasks. But they can also be huge helps when given a task they feel is important or of value to the family.
There are two very important thing to remember when assigning your child a task to help.
Assign a task they can accomplish
Be sure that you pick a task for your child to help with that is something they can actually accomplish. This will help to empower them and build up their confidence.
Choose something that provides a bit of challenge so that they are expanding their skills. Be sure that they are able to do the vast majority of the task completely on their own. If it’s too hard and they are constantly asking for help you may need to review the demonstration or assign a new task.
A word of warning though.
Kids are SMART! If you have a toddler that has learned that pouting or saying something is too hard will get them out of the job, they are going to play that card when it comes to chores and helping around the house. It’s up to you as the parent to know when this is happening and work through it. A few days of struggle will be worth it though to have all that extra quality help.
Be sure the task is demonstrated well
Honestly this is one of the most important parts of teaching your kids how to help. After all if you asking them to do the towels results in a messy pile inside the bathroom closet that you later have to refold and stack yourself was it really worth it?!?!
I have found the best way to make quality helpers is to demonstrate the skill and give key things that I will be looking for when I “inspect” their work later.
The first time a new task is assigned to the kids I go through the ENTIRE process with them. We do the cleaning of the bathroom together. From mirror cleaning to trash bucket emptying.
This helps to show them exactly what I do and what I expect to be done by them as well. If they need to we even make a little checklist of the big tasks so that it helps to remind them.
You may need to do this demonstration with them a couple of days or simply demonstrate and then the next day pop in a few times as they are working. When you do your “inspection” go ahead and follow the list of tasks you made for them. Repeating this will help encourage them for those things they remembered and accomplished well.
Remember It’s NOT about Perfection
The most important thing to remember when you are having your little ones work on household chores is that there is no such thing as perfection.
If they fold the towels and it’s a little messy but you can see an attempt at folding and a stacked pile. Count it as a win!!! Praise them for that amazing effort.
This praise is essential because it will encourage them to keep after it. They will get better at everything if they are given enough practice. Keep encouraging them and let them work on the small details as they continue to learn.
What tasks can my little ones do?
Not sure where to get started? Here are some simple ways to allow your little ones to help you!
Cleaning the House
Buy a small hand held broom and let them sweep under the table, chairs and small places.
- Set and clear the table
- Five minute frenzy ( 5 minutes of cleaning as much as you can in each room-it’s a race!!! Kids love this one.)
- Make them the laundry gatherers
- Sorting and putting away their own toys
- Washing their own toys (we call this a car wash-prepare for water on the floor)
- Give them a damp rag and spot clean floors and furniture
- Mini vacuum for the stairs-this one is a huge time saver for me!
Gardening or Yard Work
- Have toys handy for this…outside only toys.
- Trucks for hauling dirt.
- Put them in charge of their own area for planting and tending to in the garden
- Swings, slides, sand and mud pies
- Pick up stick duty-our boys use their gator for this.
- Measuring cup man (teachable moment-fractions)
- Stir master
- Let them choose the sides and if safe get them from the freezer or pantry
- Set and clear table
- Buttering of the bread
- Saying grace-let them lead
- Shopping list check-off
- If you want a great course to learn all of these skills be sure to check out Kids Cook Real Food. You can also read more about the course and how we use it in our homeschooling right here.
- Sock matchers
- Dirty clothes pick-upers
- Sorting if they know colors and textures
- Help put away things that cannot be unfolded easily-socks, hanging shirts, etc.
- Putting clothes into the washing machine.
There are several other things that you can add to this list depending on your child and your home needs.
The key thing is not to be afraid to have your children help. They are part of the family and should contribute in their own way -and that does not include only making messes.
Have some fun!
Try to make it a game! Tractor Man is all about being a frontiers man super hero, he made it up himself.
Happy homesteading everyone!
What task are you going to assign to your little one this week? Drop it in the comments below.