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

    Staying Sane: Mindless tasks

    It’s Sunday night. And my fingers hurt. No, not from too much thumb wrestling. Not from a freak accident when uncapping a beer or uncorking a bottle of wine. Definitely not from anything at the gym (which I have not entered in years). Those that know me will laugh. They will think back on a different period of time and wonder what has happened to the party girl they once knew. For those that do not know me personally, whew.

    My fingers hurt because I just finished sewing patches on my son’s gaping whole jeans. He just always wears through the left knee of his jeans, without fail. Several months ago I bought a sewing machine – which was nice in theory. Well, I pulled it out tonight and the kids got all excited about the new toy. Big Bro remembered this device and he wanted to help with the foot petals. I was doing great once I got used to the thing again. I decided to keep up with the patch project, which was making workable patches for later application to the jeans, FIRST. So, I had a nice stack of patches that we both worked on together.



    Afterwards, I even sewed up one of Red’s hand-me-down dresses in about 20 seconds with a fun stitch – in fact, she is sleeping in said dress right now, which makes me feel good.

    Anyway, back to the hurt fingers.

    With the first pair of jeans, I managed to sew about half the patch on with the sewing machine device. But it was hard. Harder than I remembered. The foot kept falling off the machine and I kept twisting and turning those damn little jeans and kept sitting down, standing up, sitting down, saying “No [Big Bro] , not yet, please don’t put the pedal down yet”, wiping the hair from my brow, losing the damn foot again from the sewing machine, and then finally giving up.

    That’s when I decided to do it the old-fashioned way.

    I grabbed a needle and a thread, and I began to manually mend and attach the patch to his jeans. It worked out great. After the kids went to bed, I sat on the couch, and completed the project started working again. Three pairs of jeans and four patches later, the project is 75% complete (one pair left to go).

    Are the patches perfect? No.
    Is the sewing job perfect? No.
    Are there strings everywhere? Yes.
    Are the patches lopsided? Yes.
    Are the jeans bunchy in some places? Yes.
    Do I care? No.
    Does Big Bro care? No. (I asked him).

    I sat on the couch, under a fluffy blanket, and just focused on the stitching. I would stop every now and then to make sure I wasn’t sewing through to the other side (that was a mistake I made during my LAST sewing project, several months ago). I sat, nice and comfy, and got into a rhythm. A mindless task. For a woman with a lot on her mind. The kids in bed, a warm soft blanket, my son’s jeans, some patches, lots of string and one needle. And it was repetitive. And it was time-consuming. But it was RELAXING.


    So now I type here with my right thumb a bit sore at the nail, where I was pushing down on it a bit to hard for a bit too long, but I am happy for the small break, the feeling of accomplishment, the physical “thing” that I fixed, and knowing that Big Bro’s knees will be covered and I don’t have to feel embarrassed anymore. And, knowing that the kids saw me take the time to fix their things — both Big Bro and Red. And Red is sleeping in her dress, and Big Bro wanted to set out his “new” jeans with patches in his clothes pile for tomorrow morning.

    So mindless tasks — I’m totally into those for intermittent relaxation.

    What do you mamas do out there as mindless tasks where the added benefit is some relaxation?

    Have a great week everyone –
    – Mama K

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