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!