Saturday, August 18, 2007

Mama's Little Helper



Young children love to help. I am not entirely certain at what age this changes, but my new motto is, “Love it while it lasts!” Of course this is my new motto as of recent. I have had to struggle with several personal issues to get me to this understanding, but I am there, and it feels right. Seize the Day!

I know I am not the only mom who gets all caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. I know I am not the only mom who strives to get things done as quickly as possible so that she can move on to another task. I know I am not the only mom who thinks that her way is the right way, and that others just can’t seem to do it correctly. I do, however, hope that I am not the only mom who has come to learn that this way of thinking just might be depriving you and your child/children of some wonderful experiences.


I have often found that as I mope skitter around my house doing laundry, cleaning the bathtub, or cooking dinner, Sugar Bear follows me around saying, “come play with me mom!” I sadly inform her that mama can’t play because she is busy. I then hurriedly find something to occupy her, and go about my way, only to have her back on my heels within minutes. I battle the constant need to get things done, and yet still give my girl the attention she needs....the attention she craves....the attention she full well deserves.


Until recently, I had not ventured into the world of “Mama’s Little Helper!” I suppose I figured that if it took twice as long to do a simple task with Sugar Bear’s help, it was better to just get it done quickly by myself so I could play with her later. By sending her on her way, so that I could get as much done as possible, I would surely have more time by the end of the day to play. I WAS WRONG! I wasn't misguided in the notion that it would take twice as long. In deed, a chore when done with the hands of a little toddler helping can take two times as long if not more. However, no matter how quickly I worked, or how efficient I was, I always found something else that needed to be done, so I would just move from one thing to another, while my daughter entertained herself. I found that while yes, things were getting done, I wasn’t spending nearly the time I wanted with my daughter. This made neither of us very happy!


To remedy this sad situation, I slowly started enlisting her in my household chores. I quickly realized how much she loved to help. DUH…..a mama with a degree in Childhood development surely should have known this. Why yes I did, but the multi-tasking, do it my way, hurry to get it done mother in me had shoved that knowledge where the sun don’t shine. With a renewed sense of adventure I have learned to love having my little helper by my side. Granted, moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer used to only take about 1 minute, and now takes upwards of 5 minutes, but the conversation and the learning that takes place it so priceless. The only time this is a BAD idea is when one of her precious blankets has made it’s way secretly into the wash. Surely other irrational people toddlers have spent half a day cuddling a damp blankie because they couldn't bare to have it in the dryer, or is my daughter the only one who would sit at the dryer and cry until it came out?




Sugar Bear also excels at helping take the sheets off the bed, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, loading the dishwasher, watering the plants, dusting, washing windows, etc….the list goes on. Almost anything that I deem safe, she will try to help. I seriously drags out the process, but if I just live in the moment and cherish the time we are interacting it is totally worth it. By the end of the day, we may not have everything done, but I don’r lay awake at night wishing I had spent more time with her. She is learning some really great skills, and feels to proud of the job she is doing. I have yet to find a job she doesn’t love, as long as mama is at her side. Her chore of choice is no doubt helping me wash our truck. This is something she gets so giddy about. She loves to get all wet and soapy. I had to let go of the worry that she will scratch the paint, or something horrible. I just monitor her use of the sponge or “warsh cough”, and make sure she isn’t washing the gravel, then the truck. She is obsessed about getting those tires sparkling clean, so I have to make sure I rinse them well before we start. In the end, we have a clean truck, and happy hearts. Now that is a chore successfully done, if you ask me. I am just hoping I don't find myself in trouble for breaking any child labor laws!


13 Live It or Love It:

Stretch Mark Mama said...

I feel your pain! I have a kitchen the size of a yardstick, yet Two Little Helpers have to shove Big Chairs right in there to "help" me fix meals! Yikes! But they are always more competent than I give them credit for.

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

I don't know why this is so hard for us moms to remember, but I need to work more on it too - it's just too easy to get wrapped up in everything that has to get done and I also forget that I have 3 very willing little helpers if I'd let them.

Those pictures are precious - she is such a big helper girl!

Laura said...

Great post! It's definitely hard for me, as a bit of a control freak, to let go and accept toddler assistance with cooking, cleaning, and such. But she enjoys it so much, and it does allow us to spend more time together while (eventually) finishing the task at hand. :)

Michelle said...

what sweet pictures! Kayla loves to help me too - sweeping, putting clothes in washer/dryer, dusting, vacuuming - I told her this better keep up as she gets older!

Mary Ann said...

Love it! What a great way to spend more time together. I love your pictures. She is just a doll.

Lauren said...

awww.. that was so sweet. I know what you mean. I think we are all like that from time to time. The part about Makenna cuddling her damp blanket made me laugh. That is exactly how Holden is with his Toby (stuffed animal). I have to sneak it into the wash and if he happens to see it in the dryer it must come out.

Pam said...

Oh, yeah. I could have written this post. Imagine having TWO toddlers who want you help you with everything. It all takes THREE times as long! I endure it, though, because I know that eventually, they will actually learn to do things, and they will really be able to help me.

Lori- Fairytales & Margaritas said...

My kids all help out. We all love it. I have learned to let go of some of the control and realize that they can't do it perfectly. They all help out so much at home, some of my friends are amazed. I guess it's just second nature to them now.

grace said...

I will be hosting the Carnival of Family Life next week and including this post.

What a sweet girl. Sometimes it is hard for us especially if they do more "mess" than help..but my husband and I promised to ourselves to let the little one have her own part of the chore, if she wants to participate. I never refold the shirts our daughter folds and puts in the drawer no matter how wrinkly it can be!

Very sweet photos!

CamiKaos said...

it is sometimes just harder to have them help than it is to ask them to look through books or play with dolls, but K loves to help. She will always help given the option and so since we was old enough to do anything, we've had her: unloading the dishwasher, picking up her toys, sweeping up, setting the table, so on and so forth and la la la... and it has given us some of our most magical moments.

micpro said...

Corey -

Thanks so much for your lovely comment on my blog : ) I love your blog - your photos are absolutely stunning! Thanks for the reminder today. 'Love it while it lasts' is the frame of mind where I strive to spend most of my time... The last few days my motto has been 'Let them live'... But that's another story : )
Hope you come back often! Your blog is definitely a place I am going to enjoy getting to know.

The Lazy Organizer said...

So true! Letting my kids help me in the kitchen was the hardest thing to do but it has paid off. They are 7 and 9 now and they cook for the family all the time. I don't just mean top ramen either. My seven year old can make fresh ground wheat bread all by herself!

Tracy said...

Thanks for the reminder. I forget how much my littlest would love to help, even if it's just handing him the spoon to put into the dishwasher. and that it is worth the extra time!

Thanks!

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