Hey ya’ll. I don’t mean to start out my blog this morning with a big old brag, but since you can’t see my house, I feel it is my duty to let you know that I am a pretty horrible housekeeper. I know, you thought I was going to say ‘World’s Worst’ but I’ve traveled enough to not make sweeping conclusions like that and also I’ve seen Hoarders.
And I know, in Dare 3 we take an inventory of things we could do better especially in housekeeping. There is a long list of things we can and should be doing in terms of household management that doesn’t even include the extras of little people underfoot.
So let me extend an olive branch of peace to you, momma of a little one. Because I know that list can seem daunting.
And while I’ll totally admit that I am the LAST person you want to ask for advice on a laundry system (seriously you should see my couch right now), there are a few things that I want to encourage you to try. Don’t worry, they aren’t all in this post. I don’t want you to get the wrong impression that I’m Supermom! because, psssh, I’m not (you’re still imaging my couch aren’t you…as you should be). In fact, the next post on housekeeping will probably have a lot more to do with how I was forced to vacuum aka I have a crawling baby.
The days I am most successful at housekeeping are the days which I get the most people involved. Husband and I move from one end of the house with our kids and pick up clutter while the other one vacuums. We tag team dinner dishes while the kids play. I have the toddler help me with stirring, pouring, mixing, and yes, even cutting (with a butter knife) in kitchen preparations.
What I think it is really important to model for our kids and ask them to participate in the household because they are a member of the household.
I will admit that for the most part, I take responsibility for what does and doesn’t get done in a timely fashion, especially things that are a necessity, like WASHING the clothes and diapers, (see, the couch has CLEAN laundry) and having food to eat and plates to eat off of.
But I find success in including others as much as I can.
My toddler, for example, is 2.5 years old. What kinds of things does she help with around the house? She puts away her clothes (which usually get unfolded anyways, so I might as well save myself the time…), puts anything away from the dishwasher that she can reach and is safe, puts clothes in the drier (I unload them and put them on the door and the puts them in), hangs up diapers after the wash, cleans up her toys, wipes the table, sets the table, fetches items I ask her to, puts items on the belt at the grocery, cheers up her brother, and last week, after MONTHS of being terrified of the vacuum cleaner, she asked to vacuum her own floor (and did a great job! I only had to get the edges!).
Now, I’m not sporting my Super “S” because she doesn’t do each of these every.single.day. but she’s capable and knows these are things she can and that I ask her regularly to do.
My son, is 9 months old and I stand him up by the drier and hand him things to throw in and tell him he does a good job helping. I give him toys while we are cleaning up so he can be a part of process.
Please know that I realize this makes things take about 4x longer than necessary on even the best days. Yep.
And sometimes, it is SO frustrating. Things are done in weird ways or so slowly you think you’ll never get done.
And it would be a LOT faster if I just did it myself. And it would be “right”.
When I used to teach, the first year I spent HOURS setting up my perfect classroom. I had all of these ideas. I worked all of the time. And you know what? I got burned out. Exhausted. I couldn’t keep up. And I felt like a failure. I finally decided to have my student aids help me. The work they did was messy and not how I would do it and took a LONG time. But *I* didn’t have to do it and it took a TON off my plate. And I learned to get over the control of having to do it a certain way.
So why do I let my daughter help me?
One reason is that she truly, deeply wants to help. She asks to. She wants to be big and helpful and if I can give her a job, GREAT! Plus, she gets attention. She doesn’t act out or misbehave (as often) to get my attention when I give her a job to do and my attention while she’s doing it.
And because if I take the time to show her the value now, that she is a member of the household and therefore expected to help, she will know that this is true throughout her life, even as the job descriptions change. I will be setting the household up for more successful running in the future by taking the time now.
I promise you it’s not easy all the time. I’m not always patient. She doesn’t always comply. We learn a lot together by doing this. But it’s important time we spend together learning more about being a family instead of someone being a servant.
Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
Discipline. From dictionary.com, even before the “punishment” definition we usually associate with discipline is activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.
And it’s our job to discipline. To disciple. To teach and to train.
It becomes overwhelming if you think of it as this separate activity.
But when it becomes included with what you’re already doing, it’s amazing and beautiful and slow and exhausting and productive and challenging and real.
And maybe someday soon, she’ll learn how to fold laundry and then I won’t have to do it anymore.
But until that day comes, I’m honored to get to show her (and him) ways they can be an active part of running our household.
What about you, momma? What are some areas your kids help with? Would you share below. And momma’s whose kids a little older – what impact did doing this or not doing this have on your household now that they are older?
Be sure to check out The Respect Dare blogging team – Nina, author of The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband
and Debbie, especially for parents of teens, tweens, and twenty-somethings, and you can subscribe to me in the sidebar. And connect with me on twitter @LeahHeffner and on faceboook on The Respect Dare community page.
*links to amazon are affiliate links
P.S. Are you looking for a way to get your kids involved? There are TONS of ideas on pinterest and thus all over the web, but I started with this chore chart (I didn’t make it) and I’ve seen some start as early as 18 months. Please, let me know how I can support you in getting started in this!