You might have heard this term if your social media algorithm shows you endless parenting videos like mine does. I just came across this idea recently and I loved it immediately so I thought what better place to talk about it than here. I’m hopeful that this idea will apply to those of you who are raising children or those of you working with children on a daily basis.
For me, it can feel like getting chores done around the house, or even at work, is impossible with kids. It can feel like your children only need you RIGHT in that moment when you walk away to go try and get something done.
I’m a firm believer in teaching children real life skills and letting them be a part of the work. However, I never thought that teaching children those skills and involving them in the daily chores was a chance for pure and uninterrupted connection. If you are washing dishes, wiping counters, folding laundry, raking leaves, feeding animals, cooking dinner, etc., chances are you’re not using your phone or watching TV. This is a time for you to really talk and bond with your child or the children in your care.
My own four year old is one who needs a lot of connection which is typically physical touch and one-on-one interactions; both of which can be hard to come by with busy days and a new baby at home. Completing chores together is perfect for her who needs to be near her Mom at all times. For example, if we do laundry together, I lift her up on top of the dryer where she then helps me pour the soap and push the buttons, and then we can engage in conversation about the colors we are washing, how many pieces go into the washer or dryer, how many minutes will it take to wash and dry, etc., (laundry conversation inspiration from hello ello) and then, as I lift her down, I can scoop her up for a big hug and a piggy back ride back upstairs. Later in the day, I might ask her for her help with folding. She tends to get frustrated when trying to fold regular clothes, so for folding I only ask her to help with folding towels. This is a skill that can easily be mastered. It’s important to make sure that the chore matches the child’s developmental level so they don’t get too upset or discouraged. However, some children may do okay with folding laundry in their own unique way (as long as you are okay with refolding later) so it all depends on the child in question.
Another example of making sure the chore fits the child would be wiping surfaces. I’ve talked about this in another blog. My daughter has her own spray bottle filled with water and a little vinegar. I let her spray things around the house and wipe them down. I have to expect that the spraying is more fun than the wiping, so things might get sprayed and not wiped. I’m okay with that, others might not be. For younger children, you might let them help “clean” the bathtub during bath time. They can spray all around the bathtub and use a cloth to wipe it up to their heart's content. This is great practice to learn how to spray other parts of the house.
The last piece of this idea, chores for connecting, revolves around the child becoming a contributing part of the family, the house, or their school. Children love to feel big, strong, helpful, and empowered. Let them know how thankful you are for their help. Tell them you noticed how hard they worked and ask them if it felt good to get the job done. Ask them to tell you about how they finished that project; young children love to feel like they are teaching you something. Watch how proud they are when they say something like “I just learned how to do it and I did it!”
Just think, if you start now when your children are in this critical brain development stage, imagine how much they will know and be able to do when they are six and seven years old! They will be helping chop vegetables for dinner, loading the dishwasher, taking care of the pets, and folding their own laundry!
Meghan is a born and raised Montanan, mama to a new baby boy, a busy preschooler, and a bonus mom to two amazing teenagers. She holds both a Bachelors and Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. Meghan is currently working part time with Raise Montana as a project specialist where she writes blogs, curriculum guides, and hosts the seasonal book clubs. Meghan is passionate about using her experience as an early childhood educator and as a Mom to bring knowledge and inspiration to Montana child care providers