I know what you’re thinking. I thought it, too.
“You cannot imagine the weeping and gnashing of teeth that will ensue when I try to make these children fold a dish towel.”
I hear you, friend, I hear you. The first time is the worst. They will act like you are ripping out all their their baby teeth with dental pliers. Push through. If you need to, read this.
“But it’s just so much easier for me to do it myself.” Amen, sista. Yes. Yes it is! But try it once. Watch them be occupied happily for thirty minutes, while you are all working. See their little faces when they’re done. Watch how the house transforms into a heavenly den of structure and order. You will never turn back.
If you are intrigued by this idea that your kids need less karate camps, fewer mom-orchestrated perfect Pinterest crafts, and more scrubbing the kitchen chairs, here is what you need to know to give chores for kids a try.
Remember our ancestors, and that you are not doing anything cruel and unusual by having your cherubs work. Two hundred years ago, for example, in early American colonies, children as young as three got up at 5 a.m…to work. They would feed the animals, weed the garden, wash the dishes, and then practice their knitting – not to make doilies for Grandma, but to support the family with clothes-making. They worked in the morning, worked in the afternoon, often late into the night. (source.) Nothing in the DNA in the species of “human” has changed since then. If the preschoolers then were capable of knitting all their sweaters, I am pretty sure ours can empty the trash cans without suffering severe mental anguish.
Don’t make up “kid jobs.” Let them actually help you. Man, did my life get easier when I learned this one. Previously, I tried to make all these little chore charts, mindful of the “age-appropriate, child-appropriate chores.” What a drain! Now, when I get that inkling that the kids need a job, I ask myself, “Self, what do I need done?” Usually Self can come up with 379 jobs that need done, so I pick the first one, and think of something they could do that would ACTUALLY be helpful to me. Am I making lunches? Have them get out ingredients. Washing dishes? Make them dry. Floor crusty and dirty under my feet? Get the broom! Everyone works together to run the household.
Model exactly how you want it done. If not, you may end up with a dead plant from zealous over-watering. (Said with experience.)
When you are tired, stressed, with a gazillion jobs to do, MAKE THEM WORK WITH YOU. It is the weirdest phenomenon today. The moms, overworked, Pinterest-pressured to run manicured houses and produce gourmet-looking meals, and yet additionally product a day’s worth of crafts and activities and games and fort-building for the day’s “summer fun” activity. I’m as guilty as the next mom of it.
I submit to you, the problem is the solution. Stop creating more jobs for yourself by adding “entertainer” to your job description.
Just stop it.
And the remaining jobs on your plate? Do them together, as a family. Mamas, trust me. Chores for kids work wonders. We can chill on the the glitter and apps and Kidz Zone and gardening camp and sidewalk chalk Pictionary…Sandpaper, mamas. All we need is sandpaper…
This post originally appeared at Smartter Each Day, published with permission.