In part one, I shot down some of the excuses for not allowing children to help, then I talked about some of the reasons we should have kids help. Now, I am going to give some age-appropriate ideas for how they can help.
- Birth through 1 year: No, they really won’t be “helping”, but it is so important to include them by letting them see what you’re doing and explaining it to them.
- 1 to 2 years: At this point, a fun “clean-up” game is a great way to teach them how to take care of their things. Make up a silly song and show them how fun it is to put things away. Let them “help” do dishes with a clean, damp rag and give them wash cloths to “fold” when you’re doing laundry. I was shocked at how early Pumpkin learned to neatly fold the washcloths!
- 2 to 3 years: They really can start to help, now! Keep it a fun game and try to “see” things from their perspective. They can match socks, gather all of the spoons from the dishwasher, help carry in groceries, dust, wipe up spills, set the table… just find the parts that they can do to help with bigger jobs.
- 3 to 4 years: This is where we are now, and I have an amazing and eager little helper! She uses the dust-buster, puts away the silverware, folds laundry and puts it away, cleans up spills, harvests things from the garden, helps cook and do the dishes, tidies up whatever we ask, cleans up after herself… she is always ready to pitch in and she often thanks us for cleaning things! One of the things she decided to do all on her own was to empty the grocery bags and set things up on the counter for me, since it was hard for me to reach stuff in the bags on the floor during late pregnancy.
- 5 to 10 years: All of the every day things above, plus taking greater part in special projects around the house and in the garden. This is a wonderful age for some special one-on-one projects with Mom or Dad. An eight-year-old boy that gets to help his dad build a bookshelf or paint a wall is getting far more than basic knowledge out of the experience!
- Teen years: These kids can do pretty much anything an adult can do, if they’ve been properly trained. Give your teens one night a week as their responsibility for making dinner. Have them do the budget and grocery shopping for the meal, too! Let them be creative. Have them take care of all of their own laundry, or assign a certain day that they are responsible for all the laundry. Give them a chunk of the garden to grow whatever plant they are interested in and encourage them to learn all they can about it. Give them the space and time to work on their own building or decorating projects.
I had been planning just parts one and two, but then I remembered all of those kids I babysat that acted like they were being tortured to death if you asked them to help with anything. My next post is on how to get reluctant kids to help.
How do you include your kiddos in things?