By Marcia Hall
Parents may have great intentions of getting their children involved in chores around the house, but life can frequently get in the way of even the best of intentions. Here are a few simple things you can quickly teach your children to do around the house to foster their involvement.
- Set the table. Getting the plates, cups and silverware out is a great way to not only get your child to help out around the house, but also to be invested in family meals at an early age. You can utilize one of the lower cabinets in your kitchen for the plates and cups that you use for normal everyday meals so that your child will be able to have easy access to them at mealtime.
- Clear the table. Taking the dirty dishes to the sink area is a very simple task, and one that is important to get your child in the habit of doing. As he gets used to this, you can teach him how to scrape off all the leftover food into the trash before placing it next to the sink.
- Wipe off the counters and table. Wiping the counters is typically a favorite of a child’s first “jobs” because it is simple and fun. For some reason, kids love the idea of cleaning off the gunk and making the table shiny – almost as much parents like to have clean tables and counters.
- Put clothes in the washing machine. Laundry time is often a chore for moms and dads. You can help your child begin to learn to do her own laundry by getting her to help out early on. It should be very simple to have your child put the clothes in the washing machine if, as you sort them, you put the first load on the floor next to the washing machine. If you have a top loading machine that she cannot reach, you can get a small stool for her to stand on, but if you have a front loading machine it is that much easier.
- Sort socks. This is a great way to help your child develop matching skills, which is a very important beginning math skill to acquire. Lay all the socks out on the floor and let him find the “pairs.” You may need to help with some of the socks that look “similar,” but if corrected in a gentle way he will pick up on this quickly. You can even encourage him to look for the socks with holes in them.
- Feed the pets. If you child gets a great amount of joy from her pets, she should learn from an early age that the pets need to have their needs met. The most basic of these needs is food and water. Keep your pet food in an accessible place to make it easier for your child to feed the pet. To ensure the animal gets the right amount, keep a serving cup that holds just the right amount near the food. You can develop a chart that your child can check off when the animal is fed to help her understand that the animal needs to be given food at certain times during the day.
- Put his toys away. This should be a no brainer, but it is often far easier to pick up a child’s toys at the end of the day than to coax him to do it. However, it is worth the trouble to teach the valuable life lesson that if our things are important to us, we need to take care of them.
- Take garbage out of the car. It is so much easier to keep a car clean when it is child-free because you simply take everything into the house at the end of a car ride. But add children to the mix, and sometimes multiple children, along with all their garbage, toys, backpacks, and who knows what else and you will have a much harder time keeping the car clean. Building the habit of keeping the car clean with children is not easy, but it can be done. Try keeping a few small canvas shopping bags in the car. Then every time you have a lot of stuff to bring in you can have your child put it all in the canvas bag and carry it in herself.
- Get the mail. Kids love mail, even if it is not all for them. With younger kids you can do this task together. To ensure that your important mail always gets to you, have a designated spot that your child can reach and teach him to place the mail there.
- Pull weeds. Finding tasks for your toddler to do in the yard can be hard, but pulling weeds is one that little hands are capable of doing. If you get him a pair of small gardening gloves to protect his hands and teach him what the weeds look like, you will find that pulling weeds may be one of his favorite things to do with mom or dad outside.
Your child’s mastery of each task will come over time. While it can be tempting to focus on perfect execution, instead focus on the important lessons you’re instilling in your child as you encourage him to take an active role in helping out around the house.