This Article is About
housework
work situation
small stuff
kitchen table
flour
willingness
vacuum
patience
Children And Housework
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Children And Housework

We never know just what our children are capable of unless we allow them to actually DO stuff!

I’m a huge advocate of allowing children to help around the house. I think it’s important from a very young age that children do housework.

My kids can do an amazing amount of helpful things as long as I step back and let them. In fact, all that is required is a little guidance and a lot of praise.

Of course the jobs are not always accomplished to the standard of an adult. I need to keep in mind that they’re learning, improving every time, and doing their best.

The greatest advice I can think to offer is to never go behind a child and re-do the job (unless you can do it without them knowing it) or else why would they be bothered next time? Thank them and educate them tactfully and respectfully. This is how you or I would like to be treated by our boss in a work situation. It really helps productivity.

A child doesn’t know to start at one end of the kitchen and vacuum to the other, covering the edges as well, unless they’re guided to do it. There is no latent gene that kicks in so that they know how to set cutlery correctly on the dinner table.

It takes time, patience and a willingness to accept they're learning initiative in the process. Who am I to say it’s not a good idea to vacuum the kitchen table as well?! “But maybe not next time, OK, sweetheart?”

The kitchen (and specifically meal preparation) is a perfect example of kids being able to help out a lot if they’re allowed to. Really, the risks are pretty slim of anything happening other than a mess. I look at this as a small cost to a future investment.

My strategy is to (sometimes) just get the child/ren started, confirming they know where they’re heading. I help where necessary in advance (such as getting down the flour from a high shelf or making up the pizza dough) and then I retire to the clothesline. I’m in reach for questions that arise and yet too far away to take over or stress the small stuff.

Having used this technique consistently my kids can now teamwork to make an awesome pizza meal consisting of 3 different pizza’s with a variety of toppings.

Yesterday my eight-year-old daughter presented me with a cup of coffee and my favourite snack (brie, dates and roasted almonds). She had taken the initiative to cut open the dates (removing the seed) and actually stuff the dates with the Brie and almonds. Special for me? Absolutely! And for her? A very creative and self esteem building exercise.

Today my eight year old made patty cakes and iced them purple before adding white chocolate chips. I simply didn't have time to help but he was so keen! I made sure he could read all the ingredients through first but neglected to ensure he knew to read and follow the recipe. The butter and sugar didn’t get creamed ensuring the butter ran everywhere in the cooking phase and the top sunk until they were merely mini puddings. We declared them delicious amidst much yum yum-ing and I do hope he tries again soon (I’ll know which direction to guide him in next time).

I wouldn’t miss these special experiences for the world, and they’re only possible because I love my kids enough to allow them to help!


Street Talk

C4rmen  

Oh what cute little munchkins! "a little guidance and a lot of praise" - well put!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

We think so! These are my twins... a couple of years older now though!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Heather, Thanks! Fun article. blessings, Cynthia

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Thanks Cynthia!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Yes, parents are the first teachers in this world. Children are great imitators. Children have photographic memory. We can shape their future by encouraging them. The encouragement from parents helps in their growth and development. Ms. Heather Bradford your article is thought provoking.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Children being great imitators is a sobering thought, venkateswara rao peesapait. You're very right though. Thank you for your comments and insight!

Reply
  about 7 years ago
C. Hughes  

I grew up in a huge household, mom didn't have time for all that. She just kinda made sure we had food and didn't kill each other. Had to learn to do a lot on my own....I was redeemed when my Grandmother told me I couldn't use HER kitchen anymore 'cause I had surprised her with a gourmet meal. Wild rice stuffed Cornish Game hens and Asparagus with Hollendaise sauce. It would have been a whole lot easier with careful guidance.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Wow... that sounds impressive but after Grandmother's reaction I'm not so sure... lol. Thanks for sharing your memories. I do relate to your mom not having time. Some days it feels that way although I remind myself that in the long run it will make life easier!

Reply
  about 7 years ago
Joan S  

You're a good mother Heather. Eight is the age I started to cook meals, although, I had perfected chocolate pudding at 5. Our mom was a great cook, and she always encouraged us to join in. When Dad passed, Mom went into business, so the 3 of us kids took over the kitchen on weekdays. You are right. It was very empowering to make food that tasted good.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Yes, I remember learning to do it all from my mum too. Very important life skills. Thanks for your kind comment Joan!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

My brother was the one in our house who learned chocolate pudding fast! From our dad.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Great read! And you're absolutely right, its best to teach children how to cook and clean by allowing them to play a hands on role in the action. I have 4 children and my husband does all the cooking. He often has mini cooking sessions with them and they enjoy it (especially the 5 year old)!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

That's the thing Tonya! We think we're making the kids 'work' and they think it's a blast!!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

What a thing to say, my Mom allowed, in fact encouraged me, to try my hand in the kitchen with baking, Many flops, much messing and years of having them all smile and say "wow" followed by grimaces of note, has turned me into a cook of note. I can bake anything, cook anything and even prepare food (3 course) for a party of 10. My cakes especially my experiments are begged after by my kids when visiting. The wife loves the idea, it saves her work.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

I'm with your wife! I'll let you know when I'm arriving... sound delicious (oh, and I only eat enough for 3 so don't go overboard!)

Reply
  about 7 years ago

It would be a pleasure.

  
  about 7 years ago
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