Little Helpers

I’m going to share a few ideas that will keep the kids busy while you work.

Cherylyn Feierabend,
January 19, 2008
Episode #049

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Hey there! You’re listening to the Mighty Mommy with some quick and dirty tips for practical parenting.
Today I’m going to talk about one of the great challenges experienced by many moms who have contacted me. It is definitely an issue that I deal with every day. Sometimes it feels like every minute of every day, but it’s probably not as bad as it feels. I’m talking about the challenge of getting chores done with your kids present and awake. I don’t know about you, but if my kids take a nap, I take a break. Well, I don’t always take that break, but I need it as much as they do, so I try to get in some “me” time during their naptime. Some moms like to use that time to get things done and there is nothing wrong with that, but what do you do if your kids don’t nap anymore or at the same time? How do you get things done without plopping your kids down in front of the TV? I’m going to share a few ideas that will keep the kids busy while you work.
If your kids are still at an age where they want to help, I suggest giving them jobs to do. This makes them happy, helps you, and might even encourage them to continue being helpful when they are older. The trick is to reward them for helping even if they are helping simply because they enjoy it. Give your kids stickers, change for their piggy banks or whatever type of reward you would normally give them for a job well done. Don’t promise the reward up front. Give it to them when they’ve done something helpful and let them know you appreciated the help. I know I’d be more encouraged to help if someone recognized my efforts afterward! Kids can help out with several chores that you may not have considered.
My daughter loves to set the dinner table. I was always concerned that she’d break the dishes. We went to the dollar store and picked up some plastic plates and that solved the problem. Some meals require the nicer plates, but for the most part, we just use the plastic or paper plates and this allows her to set the table. She puts out the plates, the silverware and the napkins. She also likes to get the condiments out of the refrigerator so we keep them on the lower shelves where she can reach them. While I’m cooking dinner, prior to setting the table, I usually give the kids Play-Doh or coloring supplies so they can be in the room with me and play while I’m working. When it gets close to serving time, I have them clean up and then set the table. This keeps them occupied so I can get the meals ready and it also helps to get them more interested in sitting at the table as a family to eat together because they’ve helped to get everything ready. For meals with extra prep work, I let the kids help. Almost any time I have something that needs to be mixed, my kids love to take turns stirring. When I make a simple dish, like cheese crisps, I’ll let the kids help create their own plate. If we need cheese on top, I’ll let them grab a handful of cheese and sprinkle it on. Not only do they love to make their own plates, but it’s more likely that they’ll actually eat something if they’ve made it.
After dinner is done, some things kids can help with are clearing and wiping down the table, sweeping, and returning things to the fridge. Have the kids put the paper plates in the trash and plastic dishes in the sink. You may have to wipe the table after they do, but the idea is to keep them busy and to teach them to do these things while they are still young enough to enjoy them. If your broom is too big for your kids to handle you can buy a smaller version from a toy store. It will work just fine and the kids will love being able to sweep just like Mommy.
One of my least favorite jobs is laundry. That’s right. The Mighty Mommy does not like folding clothes. My daughter, however, loves folding towels and washcloths. She’s also discovering which drawers to put her own clothes away in. We generally put on a family movie and everyone helps, which helps to pass the time during this not-so-favorite chore of mine. The kids can also help me sort laundry by separating the clothes by colors. This is not only helpful, but it’s fun and educational too!