Thursday, 4 August 2011

Family Chores

Like everybody else, I dread housework. I even admit to procrastination. I have been doing a lot better about it, but I still have my off days. While we had a few hot days, my kitchen built up a bit because it was too hot and humid for me to stand there. Ok, I know it wasn't as hot here in England as it has been in the States lately, or for as long, but I detest the heat. A beach holiday is my idea of a nightmare.

Since it's been a rainy day today, with a cooler temperature, I couldn't procrastinate on the dishes any more. I didn't realise that I would have assistance, though. The Imp, at 3 1/2, decided that she wanted to help, so grabbed her own tea towel and started drying cutlery and putting it away in the drawer. She didn't ask if I wanted help, she just cracked on with it, happily singing her little head off.  One thing that it made it me realise is that I need to start cleaning the floor first instead of last, because I caught her spreading the tea towel on the floor, stacking in a pile of utensils, rolling them up, and then carrying it all over to the drawer in a bundle.

It also made me realise how fantastic it is that the Imp and I work so well together as a team. It's just us, and I'm so used to watching parents struggle with their toddlers, especially in the 'terrible twos' and, a term that some of my friends have used, 'Threenager'. Don't get me wrong, we both have our off days, and we're both argumentative, stubborn mules. But we can, and do, work together to keep the house up now. She's fairly reasonable about tidying her toys up (at least downstairs...her bedroom is a bombsite, but I don't care as long as I have a path to her bed).

Sometimes I'll get frustrated at her, but I do get down and help her if she's struggling to get started. That's the whole point...I help her, but I don't do it all. It wouldn't be fair for me to expect her to be able to cope with all of it, and it wouldn't be fair for her to expect me to be her maid. It's all about letting her join in and think it's all her idea. There are certain chores that I ask her specifically to do, like keep her downstairs toys in a reasonable array, and to put them away before bedtime (though I forgot to remind her this evening, so they're all still sitting in the living room). She's responsible for putting her overnight nappy in the bucket in the morning...I don't have to ask on this one. She puts all her dirty clothes in the basket in the bathroom, helps me load the washing machine, and she pegs all our underpants on the lowest part of the outside washing line. But all of it she started on her own. I just have to ask her if she wants to help...sometimes I don't even have to ask, she pushes her way in.

Our team work has panicked people in the past. The Imp has joined me in the kitchen from the start. She spent a lot of her infancy in a sling, watching me cook. Now, the moment that I step into the kitchen, she's up on her step right next to me. A year ago I didn't get the big knife far enough back on the counter, and I walked in to find her with a potato on the chopping board, cutting it into slivers that she said were chips, and putting them in the roasting tin. She hasn't touched the knife since, but she watches me like a hawk with my every movement, and comments (nags at me) on making sure to keep my fingers back because the knife is sharp. When I have the oven door swung open, she stops where she is, or backs away, until I have it shut. All I have to do is tell her I'm opening the 'hot hot'. She's in charge of the vegetable cupboard and refrigerator, including when putting shopping away. I'm not even allowed to touch the fridge. I'd hate to think what it looks like, but she knows where everything is. Her first real words were all regarding cooking and veg.

I see a lot of parents, even of teenagers, that wait on their kids hand and foot. Ok, whatever floats your boat. But I feel that with the Imp learning things young, and learning how to work as a team within a functioning family unit, she'll have a stronger upbringing. I can hope that as an adult, she won't dread the necessary evils of having to do housework. I'm trying to improve my procrastination, so she sees me getting what I don't like to do done before what I enjoy doing. It's a struggle at the moment, but I do promise that I'm improving. Since ditching the dining room table, we're finding the living room and dining room easier to keep up, so it doesn't take us as long to tidy up. It's even quicker with both of us doing it, and more enjoyable. She actually lifts my mood up, because her random singing under her breath is almost constant, really cute, and makes me laugh.


1 comment:

Sylvanna said...

I think it's great that she's been included in the kitchen all along. Perhaps she will have a love of cooking, or at the very least not think of it as an optional hobby, but an essential way of life. Which of course it is!