“Let them help,” J would always encourage when Miss H and Mr. B were toddly little tykes.
More times than I’d care to admit I’d smile big to keep from truly gritting my teeth and rolling my eyes, and I’d let them help.
Help load the dishwasher.
Help unload the dishwasher.
Help fold laundry.
Help put laundry away.
Help scrub the toilet.
Help peel the garlic (goodness is that tedious!).
Help make the muffins and cook dinner.
Help sweep the floor.
Help painstakingly pick up the blocks. One single block at a time.
I was still deep at war with my Type A personality when they were toddlers. It was a daily struggle to quiet my perfectionist and embrace the chaos.
But I couldn’t be more pleased that I did it.
At 5 and 7, there isnt much that I can do that they cannot do.
I can ask them to unload the dishwasher or clean the bathroom or put laundry away, and it will get done (mostly) to my standards. And I can guarantee you that when it isn’t quite up to my level, I don’t let on. I don’t want to squash that caring, helpful heart that is often so eager to lend a hand.
Does that mean that they always want to help out when asked?
Of course not.
And we discuss and barter and get to the root of the reason. Sometimes that means they finish doing something else first.
Sometimes that means they don’t do what I asked at all because it comes to light that maybe their little plates are just a bit too full.
And yes, on occasion, it means they still have to get it done that day regardless, but at their discretion of when (this is typically only putting away their own clean clothes).
They also do most of these things without ever being asked.
Sink had toothpaste in it? Wash it out.
Finished with a dirty dish? Stick it in the dishwasher.
Sweet M pulled out all the blocks? Pick them up.
And they’re super helpful when I need them. They can prep dinner vegetables for me and and make their own almond butter and jelly sandwiches.
Could these things have been taught later in life?
But it’s harder to get anyone to want to “work.” At least once they realize it’s work.
But when they start as toddlers when it is all so fun for them, it becomes habit forming by being completely a part of their daily norm.
It’s tedious. It’s so much slower. It takes a plethora of patience.
But let them help now. It will pay off in the future.