One of the best parts of blogging is getting to know lots of really interesting people with great ideas. Earlier in the week I did a guest post for a new friend, Angela from The Coupon Project, titled “Homesteading 1-2-3“.
Today, I’m welcoming Angela here to Common Sense Homesteading to share her expertise on how to include young children in work around the home (without driving yourself crazy). Boy, does this bring back memories! Her kids are so cute I want to reach out and hug them from across the country. Enjoy!
I used to envy stay-at-home moms….before I became one myself. I quickly learned that juggling domestic duties with littles underfoot was not for the faint of heart. For the first couple years, I struggled in my new role. How in the world was I going to get stuff done anymore?
When I decided to fully embrace my new life instead of fighting it, I began to find new and clever of ways of tackling tasks around the home. I wanted to share four things I’ve learned that have helped me involve my children in my homemaking activities.
Tip #1: Lower your Expectations
You will surely frustrate yourself if you think you’re going to get the job done as fast and as perfect as before! I’ve found it’s best to slow down and enjoy things at my children’s pace.
For instance, in the kitchen I may work to break the process apart a bit more and give certain parts of the job to my kids. If I’m baking bread, my daughter may get to stir while my son measures and dumps in the ingredients.
I try to do these projects when I have more time to work through them. I also tell myself ahead of time that the counters will get a little messier than usual, but that’s OK! It’s important to me that my kids grow up learning how to prepare their own food.
Tip #2: Give Kids Their Own Responsibilities
Our family has been building an extensive container garden for the past few years. This year, my kids will share a container of their own to grow whatever they wish! But I didn’t start there.
In the past, I’ve given them small containers to care for. I so recommend this! There’s something special about letting your child select some seeds to grow and care for them. Take adult-sized tasks whether it’s gardening, laundry, or cooking, and come up with kid-sized versions.
Tip #3: Incorporate Play into Work
Half of the time my kids love doing tasks with me just because we get to spend time together!
While I’m working in the garden, I love to bring my camera out to capture fun and funny moments that may come up!
If your kids are anything like mine, attention spans are short. It’s hard for my kids to stick to doing the same thing for hour after hour (or even minute after minute!). I try to give my kids short jobs to do so there is ample time to mix play into work. It keeps the job from getting dull, and makes for some special moments with me and my kids.
Tip #4: Let them See the End Result
It’s easy to involve your kids with just part of the process, such as dumping clothes into the washer. However, I think it’s a very good thing for kids to understand the entire process of certain household tasks.
A couple years ago we grew garlic. In case you’ve never grown garlic, you should know it involves quite a few months. You plant it in the fall, let the bulbs freeze over in the winter, watch the shoots pop up in the spring, and finally it was time to harvest them mid-summer!
Finally it was time to harvest it, so I put my son in his rubber rain boots and had him help me for the fun, and messy process! I think there is such value in letting kids see the reward of hard work!
Being a mom is never easy, but I know I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I don’t ever want to wish my kids’ lives away or see them as a nuisance. I imagine that one day in the future, I will think back with fondness at the sound of their laughter in the garden, or watching their little hands stir up the batter for the cookies. The time you have with your kids is precious. Don’t waste it.
Angela is a stay-at-home mom of two kids, Keefe (almost 6) and Piper (3). She runs the money saving blog, The Coupon Project and resides with her firefighter husband and kids in Tacoma, Washington.