My boys love to help out around the house. I think kids instinctively want to contribute to a family, and to love to engage in tasks where their efforts are valued. In order to encourage these sorts of behaviors, my husband and I try to have the boys work beside us whenever we can.
When I cook, I try to find simple tasks for my boys that are appropriate for their skill and coordination levels. My boys help with rinsing produce, snapping the stems off of beans, simple cutting, stirring, measuring, and all sorts of other food preparation tasks.
They love to help empty the dishwasher, set the table, refill our water dispenser, and make coffee and tea. I also have them help when we’re cleaning up. They know when they make a mess, whether they spill something or drop something, that they should get a rag and clean it up.
When kids are young, like my toddler, they need a lot of help in this process. While my toddler works enthusiastically, his work is definitely not thorough. However, after years of working alongside my 6-year-old, he does a pretty good job of cleaning up after himself.
Now engaging your children in this sort of helping behavior makes the work more slow going. Everything takes long (sometimes much longer) when you’re working with a young child in tow. However, it’s wonderful to engage in a task together, and it’s an investment in the future of your home as well as in your children’s self sufficiency.
You see, by the time my boys leave our home, I want them to know how to do a whole host of things well. They will be able to cook, clean, do laundry, complete basic home repairs, manage their finances, and generally know how to handle all of the everyday tasks we all must do in our day-to-day lives.
Not only do I want them to be self-sufficient in the future, I want them to be helpers around our house now. As they grow older, they’ll be able to help around the house and take on some of the responsibilities that my husband and I are now shouldering. Plus, it gives them the opportunity to take on all sorts of responsibilities when we’re still available to help if something goes too awry. I’m guessing it wont’ be too long before my boys are working in the kitchen making things on their own (and since they already eat pretty much non-stop throughout the day, this will be especially nice as their appetites grow larger).
If you’re not doing this already, I encourage you to engage your children to work with you around the house. While it may take more effort in the short term, it’s a fantastic way to spend time with your children while completing necessary tasks, and in the long run it’s a tremendous benefit to everyone involved.