I recently read this article from the Wall Street Journal (please go read it!!!) discussing how children today have fewer chores, and fewer kids are even doing them at all. Really?!?! Wow. Talk about growing an entitled society. So, I’m taking a break from traditional recipe sharing for my Kids in the Kitchen segment, and spending today talking about how to bake a successful homemaker (of either gender).
Let’s face it – no matter what their future careers, our daughters and sons are going to own homes (or rent them) and they’re going to have a kitchen. They are most likely going to have offspring that need to consume food, and if not, they themselves will need to know not only how to prepare that food, but how to get it to the table, and how to get it off of the table.
Chores are not only a part of being in a family and “helping” or “being a helper”, but they are also part of LIFE – an important life skill that we MUST be teaching our kids! As soon as they can start helping to clean up, they should learn to pick up after themselves. Seriously, moms – WHY ARE YOU CLEANING ALL THE TOYS? Typically when we clean up a room, I size things up real quick and I pick one or two areas that I need Becca to clean up, while I do the rest. I don’t expect her to clean up an entire whirlwind of playthings. Not yet. However, I am starting to have her help clean up even when the entire mess was made by baby brother. Because that’s part of being in a family. We help each other. He’s not able to clean up his toys yet. So she can help him AND me by assisting in cleanup.
But I digressed. I stepped out of the kitchen for a moment. So let’s get back into it. Here’s a list of things that Becca is doing at 2 1/2 to help with chores. (And please keep in mind that when it comes to physical abilities, she is right on track with her age, so ANY 2 1/2 year old should be able to do these things to help!!!)
-Set the table (paper plates at each place, and a fork and napkin there too.)
-Help put items on the table for dinner (butter dish, bread, salad, dressing, etc – non-hot items.)
-Throw away trash when dinner is done (we consolidate any of the paper plates/napkins/etc, and she takes all of them to the trash and throws away.)
-Put plastic bowls and all silverware/plastic ware in the sink (she takes her bowl from her applesauce, and her brother’s bowl and tosses them in the sink – keep in mind, if your child is a little too short, you can aid in this process by leaving a step stool close to the sink that they could pull over to step on.)
-Take out the recycling (she loves to help take out the recycling to our central collection box in the garage. Sometimes we have enough that I help her carry it out, or I go and open the door for her because her hands are full.)
-Help put clean dishes away (the plastic storage containers are in a drawer she can easily access, as are the kid cups/plates/spoons/etc, so when I do the dishes, I set those items aside for her to put away. Very soon I’m going to have her start sorting the silverware to put away – I’ll have to pull the steak knives out.)
Here’s our kid drawer – with easy access for Becca to put items away, or get them out.
I see her gaining confidence in the kitchen, and definitely taking ownership in the processes that she goes through to help. As the kids get older, and she can do more detailed tasks, Grayson will take over these more basic things. It’s very important that both females AND males have active roles in chores in all parts of the home. So if you think that chores are a thing of the past that you hated doing and don’t want your kids to have to “suffer” through, well, you’ve got another think coming. Let’s put it this way – if you don’t delegate some chores to your kids, not only will you have to do all of them for the rest of forever, you’re going to be raising kids who don’t know how to take care of their own basic life needs… and setting them up to FAIL – MISERABLY!
So – let’s ALL get our kids to be helpers in the kitchen! And please, don’t pay your 2 1/2 year old for helping. Part of being a member of a family is to help. He/She isn’t mowing the lawn for you so that you don’t have to, he/she is simply learning how to function as a member of a family. You don’t get paid cash for kitchen service – you get paid in life experience!
Stepping down off my soap box now…