I naturally have the attitude of, "It's just easier for me to do it. It would get done faster and better if I just did it myself." And actually, that is true. But the best time to establish lifelong habits is before age five. Yes, it takes longer to do things when I'm asking my 17 month old to "help" but I want him to understand very early, the value of his contribution.
I no longer do the majority of household cleaning and such during Mekonen's naptime or bedtime. It's good for him to understand early that these things don't just "magically get accomplished" and that he's entitled to waking up to all his toys neatly in a row ready to be destroyed again.
Some of you are probably still gasping. But hear me out. I don't drag Mekonen around all day "doing chores." Very far from it. But when I am doing something that he can "help" with, I have been taking the time to teach him. For example, taking the time before his nap to show him how to help me pick up his toys. This can be painstaking sometimes because I can obviously do it much faster (and truthfully, the way I would rather it be done). When I change the sheets on the bed, he loves to drag them down the hallway towards the laundry room. And we are starting to work on Mekonen putting his dirty clothes in the hamper.
“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children" (Charlotte Mason).
Side comment on "summer chore charts." I'm not bashing these altogether, so if you do them, please don't be offended. But, they never made much sense to me. We are telling our kids that due to their normal "job" of going to school full-time during the year, they don't have time to help contribute to the family. This doesn't teach them anything because as adults, they will need to be able to successfully manage their families, jobs, household workings, church involvement, friends, etc. all at the same time.
Some might also disagree on this as well, but we don't intend to pay our children to help contribute to the running of the family. If they are doing extra "chores" or projects to earn money for something that is fine, but to pay our children to help clean up after themselves is not going to happen. :)
Here is Mekonen helping me and Grandma clean out the kitchen cupboards.
He was very excited about this and thought it was so fun to hand us all the cans. What a cutie pie.
Our goal in all this is to train our children early to live a disciplined life. "The discipline learned in work translates into discipline in studies, and later, into discipline in life."
“The habits of the child produce the character of the man . . . every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend” (Charlotte Mason).