Friday, December 13, 2013


This morning I asked Travis to take out the trash before he left for work. Half an hour later, he stepped out the door, and I called him back through the window, "Wait! You forgot the trash!"
He came back in for it, as Grey glared at me and said, "Mom, you are being too bossy to Dad."
"She isn't being bossy!" Travis said, "It's important for us all to help each other. Mom helps me, so I help Mom. It's important for you to help Mom, too."
That is why I love this man.

Ever since the boys were about 15 months old, we've tried really hard to include them in "household tasks."
I don't think "chores" is quite the right word, because we don't give them a list of things to accomplish, we just expect them to be helpful and involved in all things.
If I cook, they cook. If I sweep, they sweep. When I wash the windows, they each hold a rag, a spray bottle, and go to town.

As they grow older, we involve them in more things. Where once I used to do dishes while they napped, I now make an effort to save dishes until after naptime. Grey is an especially helpful dishes-washer.
First, we put away clean dishes. The boys sort and put away silverware, pots and lids, Tupperware, and lots of cooking utensils.
Sure, sometimes the forks and spoons are mixed together, but guess what- I didn't have to put them away. So that's worth it to me.
Then we wash dishes. If the dishes are especially messy, then I wash- and one of the boys rinses and stacks them.
Sometimes the cups still have soap bubbles on them. Sometimes the bowls are set right-side up and water doesn't drain right out.
I cannot overstate how little this upsets me.
If the dishes are things like cereal bowls (recently used), the boys' cups (which had water in them), or plates bearing only crumbs: I actually let Grey do the dishes.
He uses a soapy sponge to clean the dishes, he rinses them. He stacks them to dry.
It's his favorite activity.

I love it. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. It's amazing. He is two (almost three), and he is perfectly capable of washing dishes. Why do people think their kids are so incapable?
Micah is very good at sorting and putting away toys, and has a special love for cleaning the table and countertops. He sprays the counter down (with a non-chemical spray), and wipes it off with a rag. Sure, he misses spot. Yes, sometimes there are bubbles of soap that dry on my counter or crumbs brushed to the floor.
When he dusts (yeah man. He does.) he sometimes misses spots or smears the dust around instead of wiping it all.
This is acceptable to me, because my home is being tidied by a toddler.

I'm currently teaching them to do laundry.
We have a front-loading washing machine, which is nice since they can't fall into it. After I sort the laundry, the boys love filling the machine with clothes.
They fight over who gets to add the soap, spin the dial, and push the button.
They stand and listen to it fill up with water and begin to spin. They love it.
When it's done, they are in charge of pulling out the clothes and putting them into the dryer.
Again, they fight over adding dryer sheets, changing the tumbling heat, starting the dryer.
In a year, they will be able to do laundry. I may still have to fold it. Remind them. Help them.
But yeah. That seems okay.
It was hard coming up with Christmas presents for the boys this year, because I know what they want: a vacuum, maybe? An iron? A real kettle?
I really had to stop myself from buying them the cutest ever toy kitchen on Groupon earlier this week.
But the truth is, they probably don't want a toy kitchen.
They have a real kitchen.
Why would they play with plastic versions of pots when they are welcome to help actually cook in real kitchen with a real pot?
(Although, they did get a tea set, which I suspect they will really enjoy using- and then washing.)

A few months ago, I wrote another post about trying to teach my kids to be capable. Someone asked (essentially), "What do you do when you're pressed for time? I don't always have an extra ten minutes to let them do dishes that I have to rewash."
The truth is: no one does.
Unless you make that time. I'm so grateful that I can be home during the day, because yes. I can move a little slower. I rarely have an appointment or place to be to at a specific time, so if washing dishes takes all morning: so be it.
That just means we'll spend all day tomorrow on that laundry.
It's so, so important to me that the boys learn to do things for themselves.
I read recently that after a child is capable of doing something for themselves, parents should not do it for them anymore. Like, ever.
It teaches the child that
1. They aren't really capable of doing things and cannot be trusted to do things, and
2. That they deserve to be taken care of at all times without putting forth effort.

Those are two things that I really don't want my kids to learn.
So if they can do dishes: they will.
If they can put their train away after playing with it: they will.
I will help them if they need it, and even if they don't need it- but request my help anyway.
Because I want them to learn that we love and take care of each other- but man. I also really want them to learn to take care of themselves.
What do you do with your little kids to help foster their capable-ness? Are there things your kids can or want to do that surprise you?

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amberly said...

You are awesome. Your kids are incredibly lucky to be raised by you and your husband. Seriously, when my husband and I have kids, I want to do a lot of the things that you are already doing. Thanks for being a great example.

Julie Wilding said...

Listen. My mom did ALL OF THIS for me for my entire childhood, even made my bed, and while she's still the best mom ever, I'd have loved to learn laundry cooking dishes and cleaning before college. Haha. You are awesome.

Mr. and Mrs. Hillarious said...

I love this! I have my boys help with some things, but I definitely plan to take things up an notch now that I have read this! I have three boys with another soon to be born and one bathroom and I am definitely completely turning over cleaning the toilet to these boys! They will take turns cleaning it every day if need be. I mostly have the five year-old helping, but I can definitely start with the other two.

Teeners said...

I love this idea! I am excited for when my boy is old enough to really help me!