You believe, in theory, that children can and should be an essential part of the team that makes a household run, but you don’t really know at what age that can start happening, or how to encourage it? Here are some things little ones can easily do to help around the house.
By Joanna, Contributing Writer
I’ve been saying to myself for a while that my almost four-year-old is too young to really be helpful around the house. Have you ever been there? You believe, in theory, that children can and should be an essential part of the team that makes a household run, but you don’t really know at what age that can start happening, or how to encourage it?
I’m with you. I’m just figuring this out, one day at a time.
Expecting your children to be a part of your family team will, of course, teach them valuable lessons about how to work hard, how to get along with others, how to listen and obey, and that work is a lot more fun when we do it together. But frankly, beyond all that, I just need my kids to help around the house.
Parenting is hard work. Every stage of parenting thus far with my two young children has had its own unique challenges. Sleep (sleep!), potty training, language development (wouldn’t it be nice if he said just a few more words?!), emotions (where did that meltdown come from?), learning to get along with other kids, separation anxiety…there is always something, and usually many many things, that you are struggling with as a parent. And on top of all this, you are trying to keep your family clothed, fed, and sheltered in a healthy and peaceful way.
So yeah, I could use a little help around the house.
Thankfully, in that last couple months, my son has started becoming more and more helpful. For any mamas out there who are struggling to know how to include your young child in chores and household tasks, I have compiled a bunch of ideas to get you started. Choose what you think your child will enjoy doing and start there!
The great thing about this age, in my experience, is that the kids really want to be with you. My son would often rather do housework with me than play by himself. So I keep it positive and make it fun! If you show your children that you dread housework, you can guess what kind of attitude they will develop toward it. (I’m guilty of being negative, too, but I’m working on it, and so can you!)
Yes, the work won’t be perfect. Yes, you’ll have to walk your child through it. But as the Fly Lady says, “Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family.” It’s not about perfection. It’s about your child knowing that they are an important part of what makes your family function well. Aaaaand it’s about you not having to do everything yourself. 🙂
22 Ways That Three & Four Year Olds Can Help Around the House
(Clothing & Laundry)
1. Getting themselves dressed. (At least part of the way, or at least pick out their clothes.)
2. Putting dirty clothes in a basket in their room, and carrying it to the laundry room when it is full (a small laundry basket works well).
3. Helping to sort dirty clothes into whites, colors, darks, and towels.
4. Handing you clothes and clothespins to hang on the line, or helping you move clothes from the washer to the dryer.
5. Folding laundry. (The easiest ones are washcloths, diapers, and kids pants.)
6. Putting their clothes away, and delivering clean laundry to the room it belongs in.
7. Stripping the dirty sheets off the beds.
(Dishes & Cleaning)
8. Handing you dishes from the dishwasher so you don’t have to bend down (save your back, mama!).
9. Putting silverware away (kids love sorting!), as well as dishes that are in lower cabinets.
10. Scrubbing the kitchen sink, or the bathroom sink, or the tub.
11. Wiping the floor, walls, cabinets, high chair, fridge or anything else with a damp rag.
12. Using a little broom & dustpan to sweep up piles that you’ve made.
13. Setting the table with plates, silverware, and napkins.
14. Praying before the meal.
15. Helping to feed a younger sibling. (Our daughter will often take food from her brother when she’s refusing it from me!)
16. Clearing their plate from the table.
17. Telling you when a younger sibling is getting into something he/she shouldn’t.
18. Playing with a younger sibling while you get something done.
19. Having a quiet play time to give you a break (especially important after they outgrow naps! My son’s favorite activity is legos; they keep him entertained for a long time.)
20. Carrying something small for you when you don’t have enough hands.
21. Running little errands for mom, like: “Can you go upstairs and get your sister’s shoes?”
22. Saying kind words when you need them. (I often hear, “I love you no matter what.” Cue melting heart.)
How have you encouraged your young children to help around the house? What are their favorite chores?
This is always a handy list.Going along with #20, I think helping to carry in groceries is essential. Even if it is a box of cereal. I know most kids run inside after shopping is done, it is important for them to stop and help.
This is almost exactly what I do with my 5 & 3 year old. I haven’t had them scrub the sink but they love to swiffer and vacuum, so much that they fight over who gets to do what. Silly kids 🙂