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Earning Their Keep

December 8, 2010

The little hooligans that live in this house sure do know how to make a mess! However, they are finally of the age where they can start doing some useful work. (Like shoveling). I’ve always had them help me with things like laundry and general picking up in which I would have been able to do the task twice as fast if they weren’t there “helping.” It’s not about the speed, though. It’s about learning the process. I’m trying very hard lately to say “yes” to more things they ask of me. It’s hard when I want something done quickly, but I’m trying. Like when Monkey wanted to help with the dishes. He LOVES scrubbing pots and pans, but always makes such a mess doing it. It ends up being more work for me.

When he asked if he could help with the dishes the other day, I said “yes” and came up with a new system that seemed to work well for both of us. I told him how many squirts of soap he could use from his brush and he would scrub first to do the “big parts” and then when I was ready for the pot he would give it to me to do the “finishing touches.” I told him we were working together as a team to get the job done. And you know what? We really were! It wasn’t me redoing what he didn’t do well, because his job wasn’t to do well! His job was simply to get the big guck off, and my job was to do the little parts. He thought it was a great idea and stayed with me to scrub every last pot and pan that had piled up over the weekend.

Another thing that has been easy to say “yes” too is when they ask to feed Sport. It’s a regular occurrence for Squirt, so she would rather just play with the toys while here than be bothered with her brother. Bruiser, however, always wants to feed him. (For about two minutes).

At least now when Bruiser gives up the bottle doesn’t just fall to the floor since Sport knows how to hold it himself.

Besides asking to help with certain things, sometimes I assign a job to the boys. Anything with the spray bottle is always a fun job.

On this day the floor was filthy, so my job was going to be to mop it. But there were at least a dozen sticky spots around the kitchen from dropped cereal, egg, potatoes, marker smudges, etc…NONE of which  I did. (Ok, fine, the egg drip was mine). We had a little talk about how it’s my job to keep the house looking nice and I do my best to clean, but if you make a mess, you need to be responsible and clean it up. They know this from picking up their toys, so I applied it to the food on the floor too. It’s ok to have spills & drips as long as you clean them up and try again next time to eat neatly.

So I handed them each a brush and a spray bottle full of Mrs. Myers and gave them their “mission.” NOTE: if you have boys, it is much more fun if you give them a “mission” with fun objectives instead of a “chore” with tasks to do.

“Alright boys, your mission is to attack all the icky glob monsters that have attacked our kitchen! Here are your weapons: a stunning sprayer and a supper scrubber. You are to find an icky glob and shoot it with two sprays then scrub it until you’ve wiped it out and the kitchen is safe from all the icky glob monsters!”

The mission was a success! They didn’t complain at all about it. Every time they thought they were done I would have an icky glob attack my toe so they could see it and then they’d laugh before coming to spray & scrub.

Bruiser had a bit of trouble remembering that he only needed two squirts and so there were quite a few puddles, but no harm done.

I was genuinely surprised by what a careful job Monkey did.

It really was so helpful to have them both get up all the sticky spots so I could just do a regular mopping job without having to stop and scrub.

I miss the “baby stage,” but am really excited about this new “helpful kid stage.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 8, 2010 5:53 pm

    I love it! You remind me to be Positive in how I present work to my children. This almost looks like fun!

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