“Mommy, can I help you?” I hear this sweet question from my daughter every single day. And as much as possible, I want my answer to be “Yes.”
There are definitely times that my daughter’s help could be considered less than helpful – it takes her much longer to do a task than it would take me to just do it myself, and when we are cooking in the kitchen, she makes more of a mess than I would make by myself. I can understand why a lot of moms would simply say, “Not this time; go play.” I get it. Letting them help is a lot of work.
But here’s why I say letting them help is worth the hassle.
(1) It teaches them that their help is valuable.
My daughter wants to help with everything that she considers “grown up” chores – even helping make the coffee. Recently, she wanted to help me wash dishes. I questioned how good of a job a four-year-old could do washing dishes, but I let her set up her “helper” stool and get to rinsing them off while I loaded them in the dishwasher.
Did she make more of a watery mess than I would have? Undoubtedly.
Did she have a huge sense of accomplishment and pride for doing a task that she usually only sees me doing? Definitely.
(2) It teaches them that they help contribute to household chores.
I don’t think that I could do everything around the house until my kids reach a certain age and then magically expect them to wake up one morning and start doing chores.
Right now, the chores my kids do are minimal – to clean up their toys before bedtime or before we leave the house, and to put their clothes in the laundry bin. I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old, so I think this small list is appropriate. That said, they don’t get off the hook from other helping tasks.
Whenever possible, I try to encourage their help around the house. My kids get the biggest kick out of cleaning the mirror or glass door; I have no idea why. But I spray it down with Windex, give them a paper towel, and try not to laugh as they act as happy as someone who’s won the lottery. Lillian is always eager to help make the beds,or unload the dishwasher…so I let her help.
Both of my kids like helping get the laundry into the dryer from the washer and put the laundry in the basket. We’re still working on folding skills.
They don’t do a perfect job: this is a fact. However, like everything in life, practice makes perfect. I believe it is so important that they start getting practice in now instead of waiting until they’re older.
(3) It allows me a chance to show them gratitude.
I value saying “please” and “thank you” and the very Southern “yes ma’am” or “yes sir.” I can prompt them every day, but if they don’t hear me say these things then what am I actually doing?
They hear me say, “Please” before I say, “Help me put the clothes in the dryer” and most importantly, whenever they help me with a task or pick up their own toys, I make sure to make a big deal about them being big helpers and say, “Thank you!” The sense of pride that my children get in hearing “Thank you” from mom and dad is one more reason that I say let them help. It’s invaluable.