As a stay-at-home mom, I am constantly trying to find a balance between spending quality time with my son and also keeping up with those everyday tasks that have to get done too – laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, and the list goes on… There are many reasons my husband and I decided I would stay home, but the two main reasons were so that I would be the one to care for our son, and secondly, so that we could simplify our life by having one of us take care of our home, which would allow us to spend more quality time together as a family… at least in theory. And thus, both roles I fill are important, and there’s a constant tension pulling me in both directions…sometimes literally.
I can’t be in two places at one time – playing with Josh and his Hot Wheels in one room and vacuuming in the other. And if you’re reading this post (and have made it this far), I’m guessing you might find yourself in the same situation too. I should also take a moment to note that it is never my intention to offend anyone with an oversimplified idea. My goal is always to share what I am learning or what has worked for me and pass it on because you never know who it will touch and how it might make an impact.
So here it is. Household chores don’t have to be all work and no play. Not only can your toddler or young child have fun helping you around the house, but it can be a great learning opportunity as well. My most notable example of this is doing laundry. Ever since Josh was about 18 months old, he has helped me do laundry. He absolutely loves to throw the clothes into the “washing sheem sheem,” and then later help me move them to the dryer. Not only that, I use the opportunity to work on his colors. As we throw them in, I ask him to name the color of the shirt or pants, or whatever.
And this might make some of you green with envy, but Josh will actually ask me if we can clean the bathrooms. Seriously. I give him his own sponge (same one each time) and his own spray bottle (filled with water), and he goes to town. Now obviously he’s not actually helping me “clean” the bathroom, but it allows us to spend time together while accomplishing a chore that needs to get done. It’s a win-win situation because he has fun helping, and I get to check a chore off my list without having to ignore him in order to accomplish it.
Josh went through a phase where he wanted to help make dinner just about every night. So each night, I’d pull a chair into the kitchen, and I would find little jobs that he could do. He is able to stir pretty well, and when I’d chop something up, I’d let him put the pieces into a bowl. He’s great at fetching things from the pantry, and even when he’s not helping, I can still teach him what foods are called and what I’m doing to prepare the food.
And don’t even get me started on vacuuming and sweeping. With regard to vacuuming, one of the best purchases I have ever made would have to be his mini look-alike Dyson toy vacuum. It literally looks almost identical to my Dyson, complete with a simulated cyclone filled with colorful balls and a little motor with realistic vacuuming noises. So we are able to vacuum together, and he has a blast. It even has a little removable compartment, so we can empty out the little dust particles that somehow get in there. I highly recommend getting one of these! I provided the link above for reference, but you may also be able to find it at a local baby store such as Buy Buy Baby, which is where I purchased his (with a coupon, of course!).
I’m not sure what I did to deserve a child who likes to help clean, but I can tell you I’m taking full advantage while I can. In all seriousness though, I think it’s also a good way to teach him responsibility and how to take care of a house. This way, he won’t ever think that clean clothes just magically appear in his dresser week after week. He’ll understand there’s a process and work involved. And my ultimate goal is that this will encourage responsibility in him as he gets older and begins to actively contribute to our household in more significant ways.
I think the biggest lesson for me in all of this was realizing how much his little hands can actually help around the house. It was an eye-opener to me to find out I wasn’t giving him enough credit for what he was capable of doing at his seemingly young age. It wasn’t my first parenting mistake, and it certainly won’t be my last, but I see now that Josh isn’t the only one growing up in our house.