There’s never enough time. Rush, rush, rush. Life is always moving so fast. As a mother, I always rush to finish each task as quickly as possible so that I don’t have to do it later, and more importantly I rush so that I can finally relax and not have to think about anything else…although, most days it seems futile, but I do it anyway, in hopes to maximize my rest.
During my days off from work, I would try to cram in as many chores as I could sans child. It’s so much easier and quicker without the mental stress of managing a child and getting chores done. That means, I would drive from store to store and checking off as many things off my “to do” list as possible and basically running around like a chicken with my head cut off in hopes of “relaxing” over the weekend and spending “quality time” with my daughter. However, by the time the weekend approached, I was always absolutely exhausted that I had no energy left to actually spend quality time with M.
It was time to make a change. Rather than doing chores without her, I figured, what better to prepare her to be an independent thinker than having her learn the skills now. Yes, as a toddler. That way, she’s not overwhelmed with steep learning curves in the future.
Luckily, children naturally want to be helpful and a part of our lives. They want to be useful before they reach the age of ten, in which laziness or lack of wanting to please sets in. I started to incorporate her into helping me with laundry. Of course, being me, I needed to maximize my time and be efficient with my interactions. We made laundry, not only an effort to spend quality time, skill learning, but also time for critical thinking. We started around the time when she could be barely walk. I threw the clean laundry all over the bed. I asked her to pick out all the pink laundry. Pink was a desirable color to her, and she liked gathering the clothes. This did take several weeks of training for her to do it flawlessly. There were some days when she was not in the mood. I wanted to only enforce positive experiences so I would not force her if she didn’t want to help that week.
Soon, we graduated to only picking out her socks, then only her clothes. Slowly, we had her sort her tops from her dresses, shorts, socks, and underwear.
At first glance, this picture doesn’t seem like much, but at 2 years and 10 months, she was able to sort her socks, underwear, and pants without supervision. I had run downstairs really quickly to gather any stray clothes so I told her to start sorting without me. When I returned, to my surprise, she really did sort the clothes while I was gone. I was so proud of her. If you look closely-socks, pants and underwear are all in separate piles.
Last week, at 4 years and 4 months, she was able to genuinely help me with laundry. Since I was injured, I could barely help with house chores, but laundry needs to be done whether I’m injured or not. Luckily, we have been doing intermittent laundry together so with minimal micro-managing, M was able to find her own pants and shorts and folded them. Another win for this Mommy.
I should note that this is not a smooth process. M often got distracted and I would have to bring her back to the task, but I felt I accomplished my mommy goals of at least settling for chore-life balance.