Staying Sane: Get them to pitch in and help

As you all know the work never really ends for busy working moms. If you are like me, you may have a tough time just sitting down to relax since there is always something to do. This post is not focused on the relaxing that we owe ourselves – rather, it is enabling, allowing, and encouraging our children to take a part and an active role in the duties that they can handle to help out with the workload to run the house.

The kids are now 6, 4, and 2. The 2 year olds think they are helping but of course they add to the work… however Red, who is 4, can actually be very helpful – particularly with her younger brother and sister. She is also extremely willing and eager to help – and is very consistent with her eagerness. Big Bro, now 6 years old, is willing to help but in bursts. The trick with him is to embrace those times when he is hit with one of those bursts and let him ride with it. They all love to “help” cook. They [sometimes] set the table. They work together to clean up toys [most of the time]. I am excited about their growing into older stages and ages to take on more responsibility. To pitch it and be part of a family that all works together in the upkeep of the house and home.

Over the weekend I introduced Big Bro and Red to the new house. There are a lot of things that I want to write about this weekend. It was wonderful. However I want to focus my thoughts on the topic of this post – having the kids help out. Since it was the weekend I met many of the neighbors. Our next door neighbors have two children – an 8-year old girl and a 6-year old boy (only 3 weeks older than Big Bro!!). I really like them, and more importantly, their mother whom is also from the East Coast (Rochester NY). Both she and her daughter described how she starts the laundry, does the folding, cleans up from dinner, etc. etc….. I sat there in awe. Yes, I love these ages where the kids are so young like little rosebuds with their personalities developing and opening — where you learn more about them as each day passes. However, there is something incredible about the thought of these kids actually DOING more and taking [a bit of] the workload off of me. I also love the idea of teaching the children that families work together and the sense of responsibility and pride it can instill in children.

I had the great fortune of introducing the children to our new home this weekend. I wanted them to love it as much as I do… but I didn’t want to rush them. I needed them to wander, explore, and take it in. I wanted them to grow to feel comfortable there. Most importantly, I wanted them to be feel like it was their space too. Through the divorce we are teaching the kids about “two homes” and that they will have daddy’s house to spend time with daddy, and mommy’s house to spend time with mommy. And this was their first time all together to experience this new home. I am teaching them that this is OUR house. Not just Mommy’s house. This house belongs to ALL of us… and that we will work together to make this house a HOME. I’m teaching them that I bought this house for them and for us and our family. And we need to work together as a family to take care of this house. The kids were excited. And they really exceeded any and all of my expectations. They laughed, met the neighbors, made new friends, explored, and yes… they even helped out in their own way:

  • Big Bro unpacking the weedwacker
  • Big Bro and Red coming with me to Home Depot to pick out citrus trees, fruit bushes, and other random things
  • Twin Husky raking up the mulch onto the sidewalk [OK, this was added work for me, but he looked so determined to rake and to “help”]
  • Red handling the strawberry plants and then also picking out the spots where to plant them
  • Big Bro working the wheel-barrel and helping clear the weeds for some planting
  • Big Bro and Red helping to rake a path from our back top deck to the other neighbor’s house with the chickens
  • Twin Husky watering the planted strawberry bushes
  • Twin Crazy watering the patio
  • Big Bro sweeping, sweeping, sweeping and using the dustpan to clean off the entire back porch and driveway
  • All kids picking up their toys without hesitation when asked
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    I am so happy with how this weekend turned out. It could have been hard and stressful, but it really was an amazing experience. The kids took everything in stride and went above and beyond where I thought they would go.

    This sense of pride in the house and home is something that I will continue to communicate to the children. And also the need to work together as a family. Big Bro was not with me in the afternoon today and he asked me NOT to do any sweeping. So, I’ve got my first “duty” lined up for him on an ongoing basis. I will see what Red would like to “own” as her area of responsibility over time. And of course I will give in to whatever Twin Crazy and Twin Husky gravitate towards in terms of “work”. Our time together in this house will unfold and we will get into our groove that will change and evolve over time. But I am happy to have this home for them and I have worked so hard to get it. It will be natural for me to show the children the importance of this home and teach them to appreciate this house and encourage them each to do their part to help out.

    How do you Mamas get your kids involved with household and family responsibilities??? What has worked well to get them engaged and consistent?

    Have a great week everybody –
    – Mama K

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