Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Mom PSA: Let Your Kids Help While They Are Small
It's the mantra of his life right now: hey, Mom - I need to help you!
If he sees that I'm going to work in the kitchen, he runs to grab his stool and narrowly avoids slamming it on my bare feet in his earnest attempt to come to my aid. When I climb over the baby gate to run downstairs and work on the never-ending laundry, he wails and wails unless I let him come with me. I can't sit down with my laptop for more than two minutes before he is climbing into my lap, chirping "please I help, Mommy? I do letters now pleeeeease?"
Age three is full of emotions and learning and growing. There are moments of sheer joy where he declares "oh, that's wonderful!" or "it's amazing, Mommy!" And there are the frequent instances where everything I say is met with "I NOT" and "Not me do it, Mommy. I no want to do that."
It's hard to be the stay-at-home mom who is always running short on time, because it makes it tough to accept his help with the small tasks of life. It takes four times as long to make a smoothie if I let him put the fruit in the cup - and I can't hide veggies in it if he's paying attention. His hands are smaller than mine and it takes him a longer time than me to put every single washcloth into the dryer. Dragging grocery bags up the stairs is a painstaking process when the bag weighs half as much as you do.
But he wants to help me. So, I'm trying to let him. Because I know that it's not going to be long before he loses interest in spending every waking moment with me. What mom wants to do will be boring and lame - but I want to have raised a child who sees the need to help and will jump to the task, even if it's not something he wants to do. If he's been told his whole life that he is "too little" or "too slow," how is that fostering a healthy attitude for the future? I want him to feel secure and safe so that when he can actually help me, he will.
So, instead of rushing him up the stairs with the grocery bag, I'll follow behind and catch the apples as they roll out of the bag.
Instead of rejecting the help of his small hands, we'll turn the laundry into a learning game and count how many washcloths we go through on a weekly basis (scary).
And when he asks to help in the kitchen, I'll hand him the bag of frozen strawberries and let him dump them on the floor (accidentally) and then put them one by one into the blender. I may not be able to include vegetables like the sneaky mom I am - but I can always make veggie muffins later.
Chances are, I'll have a baker's assistant at the ready.