A Mommy who lets little hands help

My kids love to be helpful. They especially love to cook (although it really doesn’t make them any more interested in eating it if they didn’t already like it). Any time Joel sees a broom, he loves to pick it up and start sweeping away.

But, of course, they like to be helpful on their own terms. If I need something done, it’s not nearly so easy to find a helper. And, conversely, if I need to get something done quickly, I am bombarded with offers of “help.”

It is very tempting to say, “No, honey, thanks for offering, but I just need to get this done,” and then do it myself. I am sad just reading that sentence over again. What does that say to my precious ones? It says that they are not helpful, that I don’t need them, that their contribution isn’t valuable. Of course, NOT the message I am intending and NOT what I want them to hear!

No wonder they don’t want to pitch in when I actually do need help!

So this week I concentrated on letting little hands help, even asking for their help before they offered. One day, I asked Sydney to help me by matching all the pairs of mittens/gloves and clipping each together with a clothes pin. I explained how hard it was, when the weather got cold, to have to go through the mitten/scarf/hat bag and find a pair of mittens each morning. (Or six pairs…)

She was happy to dump out the bag, and once I replaced all the hats and scarves into the bag, she went straight to work. She knew that she was doing something necessary, and she especially loved trying all the pairs on to see which were too small and could be donated.

Later in the week, I let Audrey cook dinner. She has a repertoire of one meal (tacos), and LOVES to make it whenever it’s on the menu. But it is a bit faster for me to just make it, so in recent months I have been guilty of cooking “her” dinner. But this time, she had the joy of helping. And there is no doubt that cooking dinner is necessary!

Lest you think that our house was a rainbow-and-unicorn-fest of helpfulness, I will refer you to this morning when I sent my girls to get ready for school, while I ran down to the kitchen and threw a batch of muffins into the oven as silently as possible. They had no idea I was even baking until they came down (dressed) and the mixing bowl was already in the sink, soaking…

Sometimes you just hafta’ do it yourself.

I’ve been thinking about some ways to get my kids involved in helping in authentic ways. Add some of your ideas in the comment section:
–hanging up coats/backpacks after school
–straightening shoe area
–collecting dirty laundry and bringing it to the laundry room
–opening a pack of toilet paper and distributing rolls to the bathrooms
–loading/unloading the dishwasher
–putting away clean laundry
–sweeping the kitchen floor (Joel’s favorite!)
–picking up Joel’s toys (or anyone’s, for that matter)
–sweeping the front porch
–sorting dirty laundry and throwing in a load (Audrey’s favorite)
–”helping” with cooking (Georgia and Sydney’s favorite)
–organizing the junk drawer (they love to organize, but clean–not so much)
–putting the yard toys in the shed

The list could go on and on. Kids (all people, really) want to feel like what they do matters. And I’m not talking, here, about regular chores. My girls have things they are expected to do around the house. This is more about letting my children in to my day, to spend time with me and work alongside each other.

Has anyone else been thinking about the kind of mommy you want to be? Tell me, or leave me a link if you’ve posted about it.

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2 comments to A Mommy who lets little hands help

  • Courtney

    Amy, this is so true. LL is such a big "helper" with stirring and mixing while we cook! He started to make his bed, make sure all dirty clothes make it in the laundry basket, etc… He feels so proud and I just want to foster that wonder spirit even though sometimes I have to redo stuff! Els has begun to "help" too and I must admit sometimes I just want her to stop :-) Especially with the laundry!!

  • Sharon

    GREAT ideas! I need to remember to give more little tasks for the kids to do…because they CAN do it. Thanks for the tips!

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