TIP TUESDAY: Putting the Kids to Work

Chores… it’s why we had kids to begin with, right? So they could be an extra set of hands around the house to help a mother (and father) out. Yeah, it’s a nice idea in theory, but also an entirely new battleground where parents and kids can wage war as well.

I realize that saying T – at all of 3 ½ years old – has chores that he HAS to get done is unrealistic; to be clear, that’s not what I am saying. However there are and have been some little jobs that he’s had around the house since – believe it or not – 2 years old. Yes, we are horrible, terrible, task-mastering parents that make our preschooler do chores. No, not really, but what we did do was introduce chores as more of a game to T to try to interest him in the idea of what will in a few years be some jobs we’d expect of him if he wants to earn an allowance.

Some of the small jobs we’ve introduced so far are:
–         gathering small wastebaskets from the other rooms of the house (including bathrooms) for us to put out with the trash on trash day
–         helping put clothes into the washer/ move washed laundry into the dryer/ take out of the dryer and pushing the “on” buttons (and then I set the child locks quickly afterward, of course)
–         bringing empty cups, plates, and bowls to the kitchen counter
–         throwing away garbage both at home and while out at meals or the park
–         delivering drinks to guests
–         putting dirty clothes in his hamper
–         picking up fallen leaves in the yard
–         shredding old bills, papers, documents, etc.

The game components to some of the above are:
–         Who can get the trash gathered up first, T or Daddy? Go! (race/ winner)
–         Come help mom push buttons on the laundry machines, but only after you have helped with moving the clothes! (do this/ get a prize)
–         As Mom or Dad rakes leaves, count how many leaves you can find in the bushes that we can’t reach! (T just loves to count anything now, so it’s a win-win; job gets done, he gets to count.)

The hamper game is similar to the food one above, because he’s learned that if things are not where I know to pick them up for washing, he doesn’t get to wear that shirt or those cute socks again for a long, long time. Also he sees that Mom and Dad pick up their dirty laundry and put it in their own hamper in their own closet (modeling is so important, y’all).

The drink delivery gig is a new one, but he is SO PROUD when we ask him to walk a beverage in a real glass over to Grandma or a friend’s mom or dad and he did it without sloshing or spilling (or breaking) it… so far I mean (knock wood). Cheers!

And as for trash… well, I’m fairly certain that T just inherently knows that leaving trash around makes the ground/ ocean dirty and sick, and that’s not OK with any of us.

Currently we don’t assign allowance to these chores because we feel it’s just not yet age-appropriate. However I was doing a sticker rewards chart where he could earn stickers for goodie bag items (tchochkis from the dollar store), yet sadly that’s fallen away and I have been meaning to restart it and just haven’t yet (just stopped to put back on the to-do list). In another year or so though, for sure we will give T the chance to earn allowance for small jobs such as these as his understanding of money gets a bit clearer and he begins to comprehend all the things money has the power to do (save, spend, donate, invest), versus just buying him toys and such. C and I actually cannot wait to show him all of those things (we both are sort-of self-confessed money nerds of sorts).

I’d love to hear if you have small jobs around the house or elsewhere that you ask your 2-, 3-, and 4-year old to help out with. I am always up for new ideas of things I can free myself or C of doing, for sure!