As a single mom, I found myself always doing chores and answering the wants and needs of my child. I was too busy caring for the home to focus on play time or family time.
I’ve seen the posts and memes about chores can wait. However, a cluttered house clutters my mind. I find myself thinking about all the chores I have ahead of me rather than being in the moment with my child. I realized that something had to give. My sanity was at stake. A burned out mom is not a heathy mom.
My child was starved for my attention.
I would often see him in play, over coming challenges, solving problems, and doing tasks well beyond what I expected. So I applied his determination and eagerness to learn towards helping with chores.
I was amazed at how many things he could do with just a simple explanation and model.
My son at 5 years old was absorbing everything I showed him. Before long, he was independently tackling household chores. This provided more time for us to spend together. Quality and meaningful time spent playing, reading, exploring, and reciting knock knock jokes. My house and mind was no longer cluttered by a long todo list of chores. It actually brought us closer. He also began taking pride in our home. It taught him responsibility. He also learned that mommy never tired to ignore him but simply cared for our home. He wanted my time just as much as I wanted his time. I no longer have to nag him about cleaning up, because he is part of the solution. He knows how much work it takes to complete chores.
Now at 6 years old he can:
- Wash dishes
- Load/unload dishwasher
- Put away groceries
- Wash/dry/fold laundry
- Take out the trash
- Vacuum the floors
- Make his own bed
- Take a shower!
- Leaf blow the back patio
- Water the flowers
- Make his bed
- Clean his toilet!
- Wash the car.
- And even fix himself a sandwich and cook an egg in the microwave.
Kids can do so much more, when provided the opportunity. Their brains are ready and eager to learn. Now is the time to capitalize on that motivation. He is self driven and doesn’t rely on external reinforces such as toys or money for completing chores. He is intrinsically motivated by his accomplishments and the quality time we are able to spend together.
So next time you are faced with a long to do list of chores, pass some of the responsibility on to your child. Your future self will thank you!
by Amy Vestal, parent and behavioral specialist