When Jessica asked if I wanted to do a guest post for her 30 Days of Littles series I was unsure. I mean, what do I know about parenting? I just muddle through from day to day. And I pray a lot. That’s my main survival strategy for parenting: prayer. Without that I’d be lost.
Alright, let me introduce myself. I’m Kristin. I’ve been happily married to Chris for almost 8 years. I am the mother of two adorable children: Helen, who will be 3 in September, and Patrick, who was born in March. I am very lucky to be able to stay home with my kids…it’s the greatest job ever.
One thing I think is important is that every member of the family contributes to the running of the house in some way. My husband goes to work every day to provide for our financial needs. He is also responsible for most of the outdoor work around our place. I keep the house as clean as possible with two young children (and to help with this I have a pretty strict schedule… every day has a job that needs to be done), I feed everyone and I take care of the grocery shopping and other errands, etc, etc, etc.
So, one day I was preparing dinner with a two year old underfoot (as usual) and I realized that she was old enough to have responsibilities as well. So, Helen has a job chart. She is responsible for making her bed in the morning, setting the table for dinner, putting her clothes in her hamper before her bath and picking up her toys before bed. Helen need incentives and reminders to do her jobs (don’t we all) so we have a chart on the refrigerator that lists her jobs and she gets a special princess sticker when she finishes one.
She gets lots of help doing all of her jobs and my expectations take her abilities into account. When she “makes the bed” she is mostly pulling the sheets up and putting her pillows in place. I help her every time and show her how to do it and how it should look. We do this every morning because I want it to be a habit she keeps as she grows up. When she sets the table I hand her each plate, cup, fork, knife, spoon and we put them on the table together. I show her how a place should be set. Someday she’ll set a perfect table on her own.
In some ways these jobs are more time consuming with her help than if I just did them myself. But Helen lives here and she needs to be a part of life here. Patrick has responsibilities too. He’s three months old and he is responsible for learning to control his head, rolling over and, eventually, walking. That first year is full of some pretty difficult responsibilities! Including everyone in all aspects of family life is an important part of life with littles. The great thing is, little love to help so teaching them to work now is helping develop good habits for later (I hope).