Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It's Going to Get Easier, and SOON: 20+ Household Tasks for the Under-Five Crowd

I've had this draft in the works for a while and keep being reminded of it with posts like Jenna's and Bonnie's!  Thank goodness for internet fellowship, am I right?  

You know the kind of blog post I love to read?  When moms of older kids remind us that being in the trenches is HARD, and that it will get easier.  But the light at the end of the tunnel seems so far away when you're told it gets easier when the oldest is 10 or 12 or 8 or whatever the magic number is...

"Oh great, only 6 more years!" I think.  At which point I may very well have 6 more children than I have now...  This tunnel seems so very long.

I have no doubt that things will get significantly easier when we reach that point, but in the past year I've noticed that it's getting easier even though my oldest is only 4!



It's the little things, you know?  Things like:

- Brushing their own teeth (with "silly brushing" a few times a week by parents to make sure they're being thorough - thanks for the idea, Micaela!)

- Choosing and putting on their own clothes in the morning (and putting jammies on at night)

And who doesn't love the outfits they pick?

- Putting away their own laundry

- Buckling and unbuckling their own car seats

WIPING THEMSELVES AFTER USING THE TOILET!!!

- Washing their own hands thoroughly (a little too thoroughly sometimes...)

- Making lunch and snacks for themselves and their younger siblings

Maybe don't give them an entire Costco-sized container of oregano for their pizzas, though...

- Refilling sippy cups and fetching drinks for themselves

- Cleaning off the floor after meals, particularly when the babies drop a ton of food

- Watering plants in the garden (and being "hose boy" and "hose girl" and scrambling behind the bush to turn the hose on and off for me when I'm doing the heavy watering)



- Fetching herbs from the herb garden and washing and prepping the herbs for dinner



- Making side dishes for dinner - get them a crinkle cutter and the right ingredients and your kids can make veggie plates and caprese salad, no sweat!

- Collecting renegade shoes from around the house

- Recycling all the paper scraps from their self-guided "art projects"



- Wiping down tables and baseboards

Even the under-2 crowd can help with this one!

- Vacuuming up the messes that they (and their younger siblings) make (LOVE our cordless hand vacuum for this!)

- Sweeping the floor and vacuuming up the pile of dust and crumbs

- Fetching diapers and wipes for the babies

- Taking wet diapers to the wet bag

- Choosing clothes for the babies to wear in the mornings

- Putting on their own shoes, buttoning and zipping their own coats, packing the diaper bag, etc. before leaving the house

- Folding washcloths, towels, napkins, diapers, and stacking cloth wipes

The face says it all.
- "Supervising" the babies while watching TV so Mom can cook dinner in relative peace


- Loading and unloading the dishwasher (I only let them do silverware and their plastic dishes because our everyday dishes are VERY heavy and have been broken by over-zealous helpers)

My oldest will be 5 in July and does all of this.  The next is 3-and-a-quarter (and SUPER-mature) and does all of these things except buckle and unbuckle her own car seat, and that's just because the buckle is tricky even for ME.  And I don't *always* trust her to wipe herself...  Girls are a little trickier in that area!

Bonus: Eventually they'll be big enough to hold a baby with them on the swing!
It's not everything.  It's not even anything particularly huge, but when you look at how all these little things add up?  IT IS BIG. 

And when you're in the trenches with your 2-under-2 or 3-under-3 or 4-under-4, it seems like it will never get easier because they're all so helpless and really just do nothing for themselves except make messes.  But cultivating a general desire for order, and a general desire to "be a helper" is so huge in lightening your load, even just a little bit.

Life is still crazy, no doubt about it.  But I promise you, there will come a day in the near(ish) future when your 3-year-old keeps begging for more "tasks in the house" and you look in the kitchen to realize that your 4-year-old has laid out all the snacks and served all the children because he happened to be hungry in that moment...  And you didn't have to do anything!

Moms in the trenches and experienced moms - what are some ways your kids help out, even when they're not very old yet?

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