The laundry is piled up, the dishes are overflowing in the kitchen sink, there are toys everywhere, the floor needs to be vacuumed, and I need to go to the gorcery store. On a day like this, I used to start rushing around trying to get things done quickly until along came the toddler begging to help. “That’s sweet, honey, but mommy has to work quickly.” The toddler then mopes away feeling rejected.
Sometimes as a mother, it is very frustrating when your child wants to help you. It can be much much faster and easier to just do it yourself. I used to find myself constantly refusing my children’s help. I just wanted to get the work done as efficiently as possible. There are only so many hours in the day, after all. But there are also only so many days when your child is going to want to help you–or even to be with you at all.
Learning how to help and work is very important for child development. Without chores and a solid work ethic, children get used to having things done for them–they become entitled. A strong work ethic needs to be taught when they are young and interested. It needs to be taught when they are having a sensitive period–when they are most interested and willing. Teaching how to cheerfully work will be simple and beautiful, if it is encouraged while the child is excited about it.
It is also important to teach your child to work happily. As a form of gratefulness and care for the gifts they are given. I realized recently that my rushing around trying to get things done quickly was just showing my child that I wanted to get done–that I was not enjoying my tasks. I was being ungrateful for the work I was given and I was teaching them to feel the same. I wanted to get it done so I could “take a break” from caring for the things and the people around me. That is not what I want to teach my children. Adulthood is work. All the time. From sun up to sun down, I care for my family. I make meals, I clean floors, I scrub dishes, I wash clothes, I wipe little faces (and tushes), I teach, I run errands, I buy food. And everyone of those things are a gift–are something to be thankful for. I am thankful I have the recourses to make a meal. I am thankful I have a hardworking husband that makes enough money for us to buy healthy food. I am grateful I have a washing machine to clean our many clothes. I am grateful my children’s clothes are dirty because it means they are healthy and able to play in the mud. I am grateful for the dishes I scrub because it means my family was fed. I am grateful for all the many chores, as exhausting as they are, because it means I have people that I love around me. And mostly, I am grateful I do not have to do all my work alone.
Having your children work alongside you, will not only teach them to work but it gives you an opportunity to be with your children. It makes them feel valuable and loved to be able to fold laundry with you and talk about their day. It’s surprising how children understand that you need to work. They know you have things to do but they don’t want to be ignored while you do it. Inviting them to work alongside you makes them feel accepted into your life–not just like another chore for you to get done.
There is no hurry. There is nothing wrong with not getting a particular chore done by a certain time. What’s important is teaching your children the importance of work and the importance of them. That you are grateful for the work you are given and that you are thankful they are there to help you. I’ve made a conscious choice to slow down and ask them to help me–to involve them in my task as slow as it might be. d What’s the hurry? One day they will be grown and caring for their own house and family. Be with them in your work. They are companions, not chores and they long to be just like you.