#1- Keep my children with me as I go throughout my day.
It may sound so simple for some but children learn more about responsibility by being around their parents and dealing with it then from all the lectures in the world while they’re told to go away. I keep the kids with me and let them help me with everything I do. I encourage Daddy to spend time with the children as well (but don’t nag him!). The task may take a little longer, but eventually the child is a help, not a hindrance.
#2- Let the children take over the chore while it’s still fun.
I never feed or water the dog. I rarely take the trash out, check the mail, do the laundry, feed the animals, cook lunch, bake bread, wash dishes, set or clear the table, put away groceries, or vacuum- just to name a few. Not because I’m lazy or those chores don’t get done, but because my children actually enjoy doing them and I don’t have to anymore. As they are working along side me, the children begin to master these daily responsibilities on their own and eventually really do them without me having to force or coerce them to. We don’t have assigned chores around here… but everyone knows what needs to get done every day, and the children work it out between themselves who gets to do them instead of who has to do them.
#3- Children are never too young to lend a helping hand.
This is actually an older picture. It’s of my now almost 3 year old son when he was just 13 months old helping me put away groceries. He didn’t do it perfectly or put things where I would have, but he was in charge of putting away the cold items. It was (and is) always the effort that counts and these days when he helps me, he even puts things where they go. 🙂 It’s hard in the beginning and your workload is probably doubled for every child that’s ‘helping’ you, but, I promise, those days are short lived!
#4- Even the littlest can have their own responsibility.
Not just ‘help beside mommy’ but jobs that they themselves are solely responsible for. It gives children a sense of accomplishment, teaches them to take pride in the work of their hands, and let’s them learn the value of diligence and perserverence. But I try to never get upset if they forget…they are still learning! I remind them gently and thank them for a job well done.
#5- Let the children take breaks when they need to.
#6- Always remember to let kids have plenty of time to be kids, and be a kid with them.
Play is just as important for kids as working is, just like it’s important to have fun when you’re grown up! Never forget to play with your babies (or snap hilarious pictures of them playing with their teenage cousins!)- playing makes everything better!