|One of Gideon's chores is to help Esther along when the ground is rough. He takes great pride in doing a good job.|
I have had to catch myself several times the last week from preventing Gideon or Esther from helping me with various chores that were maybe a little on the gross/complicated side for a toddler. Gideon was desperate to help me clean a toilet bowl, and Esther cleaning the rabbit's litter box.
Then I saw the earnestness in their face, and decided to relax and let them help while still maintaining hygiene. In fact, I have learned over the very short time I've been a mother that starting children on chores while they could still arguably be called a baby is incredibly important. Here are three reasons why:
1. You capitalize on their eagerness. Eventually, they won't be so eager to help - possibly once they are more useful. But if you capture the momentum of early toddler eagerness- say, right when they start walking - they will be able to learn skills and establish patterns of helping before they are too independent to want to copy you and do what you are doing.
Esther is in the "put it away stage" and is fantastic at quick obedience when I ask her to put toys away, throw things away, or recycle things. Gideon's response time is less quick now that he is more independent and wanting to do his own will, but that negative inertia is not as great as it would otherwise be, I think, if helping were not the norm.
Just today as I explained that we were preparing for dinner guests and I needed his help, he would complete a task and ask, "what is the next thing that I should do?" Melted my heart, but I know he's there because I have consistently expected his help at every turn.
2. It builds their confidence. Gideon is very proud of his chore-related skill sets: taking diapers to the outside bin, protecting Esther from harm, putting silverware away once clean in the dishwasher, organizing his toys (I won't begin telling you about how he organizes the people on his toy bus by color order, in pairs, and carefully facing front...), taking off his shoes and taking off and putting on clothes that don't have buttons or snaps, and on and on. He is visibly proud of himself, "I did it!" and loves to be praised for a job well done. Although obviously much less verbal, Esther will perform her job (throw her diaper away, recycle something, put a toy or the groceries away) and immediately clap for herself and say, "yeah!" It's clear they enjoy the spatial learning and goal achievement inherent to chores.
3. You need the help! I have a bit of a bad back, which makes the simple task of loading our washer and dryer sometimes very painful. I was surprised when Esther began helping - and actually helping - to relieve my pain by putting clothes I identified in the washer, which was just at the right height for her. Gideon probably saves me 30 minutes a day with his chores. I attempt to do a lot with my days - we all do! - and any bit of help I can get is welcomed in helping me get a little bit of much-needed downtime. Oh, and it's free!
How early have you started your little ones on chores, and what did you have them do? How did they respond? Upsides/downsides??
|E helping me put the groceries away - don't know why the tantrum at the end...|
* G has been working very hard at getting his daily "sticker points" so he can go to Wisconsin to see his cousins in July. He prays for Jesus' help every night so he can go, and I'm pretty sure it's made a difference. One aspect of getting a sticker at night is to not hurt Esther. This is tough, because Esther can be aggressive, biting and pinching, at a moment's provocation. Anyone would react negatively to being bitten - I have. But Gideon has somehow, over the course of his prayers, been able to temper himself such that when he is hurt, instead of responding, he will come tell me or just go on with whatever he is doing. I've been utterly amazed by my little boy and his self-restraint. I'm sure he is getting the requested help!
* We had the missionaries over for dinner on Mother's Day (one of two days they get to call home throughout the year - very exciting). Gideon was the perfect little host, reaching for the olive oil, salt, random pill box, etc., asking if they wanted more or whether he could get them anything.
* Esther has become our resident stripper. If we don't watch her carefully while in her diaper, next thing we know, she'll be in her birthday suit, diaper off and thrown away. Maybe she's taken this job thing a little too far, but then, maybe we should also start putting on the diapers backwards...
* G will say things that evidence a wise little soul - "Daddy, what are you thinking about? Esther, that's a beautiful dress." "Actually...." "My life is fun." [Giving Lance a hug while he is poorly] "Is that better for you?
* We try to get the kids to fold their arms for prayer, and Esther has just now started to do it consistently. Except a mealtime. She and G noticed that Lance and I hold hands when we pray, so Esther has started to hold our her hand for daddy's before prayer, and G has followed her suit with me.
|I may have built it initially, but G has rebuilt many parts to it when Esther has unwittingly and invariably knocked down a big section.|
|Look who has joined us at the table.|
|Kisses at the farmer's market.|
|visiting the new kids next door.|
|This pic doesn't appropriately capture her udder glee.|
|Might become a jazz enthusiast.|