Teaching Kids Responsibility by Including Them in the Process
Problem #1: Folding laundry was a four-step process. Laundry is one of my least favorite things to do. Handing over part of that chore was first on my list. Our washer and dryer are downstairs and our rooms are upstairs. Folding laundry used to be a four-step process for me (no wonder I dreaded it). I would wash and fold the laundry downstairs. Then put it in the laundry basket and then take it upstairs. After laying all the folded clothes on the bed I would put everyone’s clothes away. You know when you have a light bulb moment and suddenly the solution seems so clear? That’s what happened here. Why was I moving the folded laundry three times?
Solution: Cut the process in half (and give away part of the work). Our new laundry process is a dream and almost gets me excited about laundry day. I start by sorting, washing and folding. (I will give away more of the responsibility as the kids get older, but for now this works). When I take a load of laundry out of the dryer I take it straight upstairs. I fold the clothes and place them in piles on my bed. After all the laundry is done (usually at the end of the day) everyone puts their own clothes away. Even Hubby!
What the kids are learning: The kids are getting two great lessons here: that team work makes the job easier and how to organize their drawers.
Problem #2: The kids could not reach their dishes. M and M can prepare some of their meals (and almost all of their snacks) which helps me out a lot. The way our cabinets were stacked all the kids dishes were stacked out of reach. Even when they did prepare something I had to be there to grab stuff for them.
Solution: Move the dishes. This solution was easy and obvious. All of the kids’ plates, bowls and cups are now in the bottom shelves. YAY!
What the kids are learning: This is my favorite change. Hubby loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen. Allowing Big M freedom to get creative with scrambled eggs all on his own is going to give him confidence in the kitchen. Knowing how to cook is a life skill everyone needs!
Problem #3: Nagging Mom. Day one of summer break I gave the kids a small list of chores. They whined, complained and dragged their feet. I nagged, complained and threatened. AHHH! Not my finest moment. I quickly decided that this would not be the way our summer would go.
Solution: Pass the responsibility of getting it done… to the ones who need to get it done. After rounding up their clipboards, a piece of paper, some colored pencils and clothespins, I made a to-do list for each kid. It was simple. A list of three things that needed to be done followed by a list of three things I knew they wanted to do. I told them both that once the three top things were done, they were free to do the three bottom things.
What the kids are learning: By allowing the kids to be in charge of their chores they take on the responsibility of when and how it gets done. Time management is a great skill to have! These simple tricks are making my life SO much easier and giving the kids a little lesson in responsibility.
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