Small Children and Kitchen Chores

We all want to have responsible and helpful children, right? But the questions start popping up when it comes to issues of how much resposibility, when and frankly is it worth it when it takes you so much less time. With children 5, 3, and 1 I understand these quandries. So let me share with you what I have my kids do. Both the 3 and 5 year old are fully capable of taking their dirty plastic plates off the table along with their empty cups. The 5 year old can now put these straight into the dishwasher (the challenge being to get them straight in the rack). Then you can start involving them in setting the table. I count out all the forks and napkins and then tell them to give everybody 1 each. Start this when you start cooking. That way if it takes them a while to get it straight it doesn’t delay them meal. Little kids can also help empty the dishwasher. Now I admit, the only things my kids can reach to completely put away is the silverware but we have found other ways for them to help. We have them get out all the plates and bowls and just stack them on the counter. You can start with just the plastic ones but very quickly they can do them all. This is something else you can have them do while you are otherwise occupied in the kitchen so it doesn’t mess up the schedule. Another way this helps is if you are pregnant. Now all the plates are at counter level instead of having to bend over to get them;).

Motivation is always an issue. First, I recommend letting only 1 child help at a time. Then they feel special and it encourages them. If no one wants to help that is fine but there are mild consequences. No one can do the next thing until you are done with everything you have to do. For instance, mom can’t play a board game with the child or they can’t go outside. The important thing is to make the family a unit with the mentality that eveyone chips in so everyone can play. Also, have it as a reward for the “big” kid. “You are so helpful, how would like to come help me in the kitchen and do some jobs?” That is always a winner in our house.

You don’t want to wait to long to start teaching your kids responsiblity. Just give them small, easy steps and be positive. Also a big helper always gets to dump the chocolate chips in the cookies (and have 2 to snack on;).

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