Do you need more time in the day? Do you need more help around the house? Is your time filled with running after your kids? Filled with prepping meals? Filled with being too tired to do anything because it seems as if you have to do EVERYTHING? Well, to quote President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Stop it!”
Are you kidding me?
Seriously, you do need to just stop doing that! Stop picking up after your kids. Stop doing all the work! They can, will, and in most cases even LOVE to, help you. Especially those younger ones. They only want to please. They only want love. And attention. If they can get those things by helping, they are all about it! There is nothing wrong with having your toddler pick up her toys. With having him help set the table with the non-breakables. This age LOVES wiping up their messes with a wetted cloth. They can even try their hands at sweeping. At mopping. Obviously, some of these things require MUCH supervision and others, almost none.
Your preschoolers are quite capable of dressing themselves. They might clash with their clothing choices, but that’s ok. Not only is it saving YOU time, it’s giving them a sense of accomplishment. They’re quite capable of clearing the dishes from the table. Making their bed. Another way of helping around the house could be putting away the groceries.
A little bit older
Once your children hit school age, it’s time to up the game! Put them to work in the kitchen by having them help prepare and pack their lunches. Have your sons peel some vegetables. Your daughters set to work emptying the kitchen (and other inside) trash cans. Send them outdoors to weed the garden. To rake up some fallen leaves. Or the grass once it’s been mowed by an older sibling. The vacuum cleaner is a tool this age can easily handle. Don’t expect perfection. And don’t berate them when they do – what to you seems – a haphazard job. Simply love them and appreciate the fact they’re helping. And saving you that little time.
Are you sure?
Now don’t go saying, “It’s quicker to do it myself.” In the beginning, you may be right, but that’s ok. They are helping. Feeling good about themselves. They are accomplishing important things. We, especially as Latter-day Saints, are counseled to work. To not be lazy. To earn our keep. This is a way to teaching your youth to do just that!
As they gain a few more years of maturity, say around 8 years or so, they can, and should, be given more responsibility. They can be responsible for waking up themselves. For doing their homework (of course, help them when they need it). They are quite able to be responsible for their belongings – putting them away, picking up, care of, etc. You can teach them to clean the toilets and then let them keep that job! I mean why else did you have kids if it wasn’t to get them to clean your toilets!? Show them the ropes of grocery shopping. They can learn valuable math skills by applying their newly gained knowledge at the grocery store.
What about teens?
Now, you may be asking, what about the dreaded teenage years? Well… since we can’t ship them off to boarding school… Give them more responsibility. They can cook simple meals. Prepare their own snacks. They can wash their own clothes! Washing windows, inside and out! Mowing the lawn so their younger sibling has that raking to do!
As your teens get closer to the feared 15-year-old age group, it’s time for them to be doing their chores WITH OUT prompting. I know it’s tough. How to get them to do so might have to be its own future blog post! They can easily babysit their own siblings and other young children. Have them prepare some of their favorite meals for the whole family!
By the time your children have hit age 16 they are quite capable of doing just about anything we, as their parents, might need to do. Do they have a car? Have them take care of the maintenance on it. Need that second-hand freezer you bought, and thought it was frost free, only to discover an inch of frost lining it, defrosted. They can defrost it for you!
Our children need to keep busy. They need jobs. They need to work around the house. If you are trying to love them by doing it yourself. If you are trying to save your sanity by doing it yourself. Stop it. You are doing them a disservice. You are setting them up for failure as an adult. They need to know how to do these things. Give yourself permission to sit down for a few minutes and sing the cleanup song for your babies as they pick up after themselves. Give yourself permission to sit down and let your children help out around the house!
One last word of caution. Often youth (and even adults) find themselves overwhelmed by a project. What seems easy to some, for example, cleaning your room, is a daunting task for many. They need lists. Give them the steps necessary to clean their room. First, put your dirty clothes in the hamper. Next, pick up all your crayons and other art supplies and put those away. Continuing on until you’ve included all the jobs that make up a clean room. This might be needed for other chores, such as clean the kitchen. Break down these into baby steps. Not only does it make things easy for a child to see, but once they can check off one of the jobs for the kitchen, they can see what they’ve completed! They gain self-respect. Self-esteem. They know they can do it. They know they can finish the room.
One last time…
Again. Love your children. Love yourself. Sit down and let them do some of the work!