Monday, February 16, 2015

Never Too Young To Help

Like many of you, training my children in certain areas is much more trying than others. For me, it's housework.  Not because I don't think kids should help or because I think they are too small - I just like things a certain way and teaching them "the way" is exhausting.

But after a really rough first/second trimester which happened to occur during an electronic free summer break (long story, but you can be sure it was disciplinary) I came to realize a few things. 
1.  The training was most definitely worth the effort.
2. Just because things aren't always done my way, doesn't mean they are done the wrong way.
3. The "wrong" way is better than not done at all.
4. I have amazing kids that really, truly just. want. to. help. and I should let them more often.
5. There is no such thing as "too young" when it comes to helping out.

My (almost) 12 year old was an amazing help in so many ways during that time and really is a blessing to me daily.  As my "big kid" helper he can help with lots of our outside chores, requires less supervision and is a great help with the smaller kids.  For example, he feeds our cows in the morning before school, carries in 50 lb. bags of pellets to refill the stove and makes his own bed. 

My 6 year old has a bit more trouble staying focused, but is more than capable and (usually) willing to jump in and help.  He is assigned tasks such as taking out the trash, picking up his own room, vacuuming and tending to the laundry. At his age, that means putting assigned loads into the washer & starting it, putting said laundry into dryer when cycle is finished and then bringing dried clothes to the "laundry couch" as my kids affectionately call it for me to fold and be put way at a later time.

Even my 3 year old can be assigned tasks, and she is a servant at heart. More than any of the other kids, she wants to help...with EVERYTHING.  I'll admit it is sometimes challenging to find things that she can actually do by herself, but I am learning that she is just as happy to be my shadow and learn as we go.  Her biggest chore is to help load/unload the dishwasher. She obviously can't reach all the cupboards and I don't send her through the kitchen wielding steak knives, but she does what she can and is just happy to be by my side.  She knows how to put the soap in and which buttons to push to start the dishwasher.  I'd say that's not bad for three. 

All my children are expected to pick up after themselves to an extent. If you took it out, then you know where it goes, so put it back.  Toys, dirty clothes, backpacks, shoes, trash, etc.  This pretty much eliminates the fight over cleaning up their own rooms.  I still make beds for the younger two, because honestly I am not ready for that training session and it really is easier to do it myself for now, but we will get there.

I recently came across an article online with a suggested chore chart based on age and while I don't find it to be all inclusive and I found it useful and encouraging.  Not all family structures, schedules and living arrangements are the same, but I encourage you to find a system that works for you and start training your kiddos now. 

My sons will never be able to use the excuse that they don't know how to cook, clean or use a washing machine and my daughter is learning valuable skills that she will someday need to be an effective wife and mother.  They are all learning responsibility and the value of working together.

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