9.21.2011

Mekonen's Chores

So I've been thinking lately about a motto a friend told me of a family she knows: Never do for a child what he can do for himself. Now I'm not talking about being extreme with this, but I'm thinking more in line with building responsibility and a culture of helping others and helping yourself from the time our little ones can walk. From the beginning I've tried to involve Mekonen in our life. It gives him a sense of belonging, allows us to really "be" together, and hopefully teaches Mekonen that everyone has responsibilities and that his only job is not to play with his toys (although yes, I know, play is vital to learning). I'm merely talking about involving Mekonen in everyday life. So what does that mean? Well, Mekonen has jobs, or chores, if you want to call it that. He has since the time he could walk- age appropriate of course.
I know many families who wait until the child is big enough to be a "real help" but I think that's too late. Some wait until the child is 4, 5, 6, even later! By then, you will need to undo learned habits, routines, and ways of life. Then the child feels the abrupt change in policy is unfair and that you are making unfair demands on them. Instead, why not just do it from the beginning? Sure it's way easier for me to just do the work than take the time to train my toddler to help me, and do it with me. But that would be counterproductive.

Don't get me wrong, I love serving my children, doing things for them, etc. And I do. But I also don't want them growing up with the mindset that Mom is the servant. Then eventually, when she pushes back on that, a whole new battle of whining and complaining ensues. As one person put it, "if you serve them until you are confident they are fully capable of serving themselves, you have cultivated slothfulness in them." Sometimes parents don't plan, they react. They get flustered with doing all the work, serving and serving, and feeling like no one is grateful, and then they react. They decide that the "kids needs chores" and "the kids should be helping out around here." And all of a sudden the apple cart is turned over, and confrontation ensues. No planning happened. "They are trying to fix something that is broken, rather than mold something that is growing." We are huge on training. Training him how to do things from the beginning. It's easier and smoother that way.
Obviously we don't make inappropriate demands on Mekonen. That would be exasperating and discouraging. But instead, we teach him as he is able, from the beginning and expect a happy heart in the meantime.

Mekonen's Jobs
Put his dirty clothes in the hamper. 
Cleans up all his toys when he's done playing. 
Carries his plate and cup to the sink. 
I spray the table where he eats and he wipes it up.
Puts his shoes by the door when he takes them off. 
Hangs up his towel after his bath.
Helps me put the laundry in the washer.
Pulls the laundry out of the dryer and into the basket. 
Feeds Macy her food and refills her water. 

3 comments:

Flinn said...

This is seriously so wonderful! I love this so much. It's one of my favorite philosophies that you have with your parenting and I definitely am inspired to do it when my babies come along ;)

Jon said...

My fav pic is Meko dropping food in Macy's bowl!

unoeufisenough said...

That is such a good idea !