After living rent-free for 34 months, we figured it was time Jack started earning his keep. Ok, just kidding. Really we want to instill in him a sense of responsibility, leadership and a good work ethic to help enhance his application to the Coast Guard Academy in a few years. Okay, just kidding again. Sorta. We just want the kid to be a good person okay! And, for the most part, he enjoys giving us a hand around the house. Unless it involves picking up his toys, or helping him change his clothes. Anytime I ask him to do either of these things he says, "Mommy's turn, Mommy do it."
My plan is to have a neat little chore chart for him to follow when we start our new routine this fall. Of course, I also realize that many of my plans for the autumn are gonna go up in smoke once our little babycakes makes her appearance. But I go on dreaming anyway. The challenge is, determining just what Jack is physically and mentally capable of doing. We've done a few trial runs recently to help make those decisions.
Jack loves to spot the mail truck. And thanks to our fantastic new bay window, i.e. the fish bowl, nothing goes by the front of our house without one of our boys notice. And the picture clarity is even better than our TV! So once the mail truck pulls up we do a little happy dance by the window, maybe throw a few cushions off the couch in anticipation, and then wait until the mailman is about two doors up so we don't have to deal with the awkwardness of standing by the box while he's still unloading the envelopes.
Until recently it was a chore that I just took care of myself. So Jack was beyond elated when I announced the other day that it was now his turn to retrieve the mail and "Quick, get your shoes on! *insert hand claps*" It had just rained, so he returned with his Wellies and I sent him off to the end of the driveway with strict instructions to stay out of the street.
The few yards walk suddenly seemed way too far from my vantage point in the doorway and I think that for a moment, I felt what it would be like to send my kid away to college. But he was oh, so excited, and so proud to go all by himself. So I stuck it out at my post by the door. And waited. And waited. I could barely see the top of his head above the bushes, but couldn't figure out what was taking so long. Finally, after a short eternity, I heard his little voice floating through the branches, "Mom, I can't reach. Can't reach Mom!"
Oops. Shorty isn't tall enough to open the mailbox yet, poor kid. So I ran out quick, opened the door, pulled out the mail, stuffed it in his waiting arms, and then ran back to the door and pretended like I was never there so I could snap this picture:
Job well done Jack! So that's Chore #1, modified to "Walking to mailbox with Mama, and carrying the mail back to the house for her."
I thought for sure this would be a winner. Jack has been a great assistance for several months now in transporting the laundry from the upstairs to the laundry room downstairs. In other words, he thorougly enjoys throwing, kicking, and riding dirty clothes down the staircase. Actually carrying it to the washer is another story. But there's more to laundry than just manual labor. It's also a sorting exercise. And I thought what a perfect opportunity to incorporate some educational lessons into hard work.
Naturally, Jack takes the sorting aspect a little too far. Whereas I was thinking just "lights" and "darks", Jack seems to think it's important to label each article's owner. So instead of just pulling handfuls of clothing out of the hamper and throwing it in the basket in a timely manner, he has to pull each and every item out, one by one, and announce, "Mommy's shirt, Daddy's unner-wear, Jack's jammies, Jude's pants..." And then when we get down to the laundry room and it's time to put it all in the washer, it's the same thing, "Mommy's pants, Jack's unner-wear, Daddy's socks..." One by one, into the washer. I'm quickly learning that toddler chores are so much less about helping me be efficient around the house and more about new experiences for my kiddo.
Of course, we must not leave out the real highlight of doing the laundry - pushing the blinking button. Heaven forbid I do it myself and compromise my son's sense of self-worth ... as demonstrated by an emotional meltdown. Jack firmly believes he was put in this family to push the "start" button on the washer and dryer. And between potty training (which has suddenly gotten much, much better I should add), cloth diapers, and two dirt-playing, messy-eating little boys, he has plenty of opportunities to exercise his gift!
Watering the plants
Surely this would be it, I thought. The inside plants may be a bit challenging, but the outdoor ones are a perfect task for a 3 year old. I just didn't realize how zealous he would be about our botanical friends' liquid diet. Anytime the child finds a bit of stray water, he's dumping it on the plants. I've had to explain about flooding, and that when water starts flowing off the top of the pot it means the plant isn't thirsty anymore, etc. but at least the greenery has been flourishing under his care.
|Okay, so he doesn't always get the water IN to the plant...|
And if there's ever water left over in the watering can he's more than happy to take care of it himself. Because, hey, chores are hard work!
|He's got the "hey, I'm about to do something crazy" look in his eyes. You little rebel, you!|
Jon also mentioned that our son is an excellent stick picker-upper and a great help with yard work. I was taking advantage of the quiet moment inside the house, so I didn't get to see it or take pictures. But judging by the number of trees in our yard, I'm sure Jack will have plenty of opportunities to shine in this area in the future. Other than that, we're still looking for a few more chore ideas before fall. And once we get into that groove our next step is to find ways to keep Little Brother busy.
And out of trouble.
Because that certainly seems to be his M.O. these days.
Any ideas for chores for a 15 month old?