Friday, August 6, 2010

Simplicity: Involving Our Little People

(Photo taken by Victoria H.)

Let's hear it for the little people in our lives!

We have prayed for them.  We now pray over them.  We fall asleep praying about them.

It has always bothered me when parents talk in anticipation of the upcoming school year. They don't know what to do with their children anymore.  Their children are getting bored and getting underfoot.  They want their kids out of the house to give them some peace. 

I guess that way of thinking is so foreign to me because my mother never treated us that way.  We were her pride and joy.  She would rather have us with her than anywhere else.  She made us feel loved and treasured regardless of how old we were.  Once I was married, when I had a day off of school or was making my way home from work, I would drop by at Mom's house, and boy, would Mom get excited!  You would think she hadn't seen me in years!

Brian and I prayed for and (literally) worked for our treasure that we call Addie.  And I always want her to know that same feeling of being wanted that I felt growing up.  But how, when we as wives and mothers have so many responsibilities, do we give our children the time and attention they need while maintaining a well run home?  Throw a complication into the mix: your child's love language is quality time as is the case with Addie.

Here are some simple things that I do in our home to include Addie in my daily activities and chores.

Wake up early.  I generally wake up between 5-5:30 am.  For me this works right now.  I go into our office and have my devotions and prayer time.  Because I take care of this first thing in the morning and I do it at a time when not much else can get done, I am able to have a great time with the Lord, and I am not rushing to get on to the next thing on my list.  I am also able to get some of my quiet cleaning/housework done before Addie wakes up, and I have time to get dressed and ready for the day before Brian goes off to work.

From the moment Addie wakes up, I try to include her in as many of my activities as possible.  Whether I am making the beds, doing laundry, putting dishes away, cooking, setting the table, or vacuuming I keep Addie involved. She is also given a lot of praise.  She now thinks I can't do any of these things without her help. In all honesty, it would be faster if I just did these myself, but seriously, as a stay at home mom, I have the time to spend letting her help. Here are some detailed ways that I am able to care for my responsibilities while keeping Addie involved.
  • Making the beds- I have Addie tug on the bedspread and hand me the pillows.  She loves it, and it is preparing her for the day when she has to make her own bed.
  • Laundry- When I transfer the clothes from the washer to dryer, I first hand them to Addie and she tosses them into the dryer.  Sometimes when I go into the laundry room alone, she comes running in, puts down the toy she happens to be holding, and asks for a handful of clothes.  When the clothes are ready to fold, I let her play with the clothes as I fold.  Sometimes (when I think about it) I have her match the socks for me.
  • Putting dishes away- Wisdom plays a big part in this one.  Obviously, we cannot just put any type of silverware, flatware, or kitchen utensil in the hands of a little one, so carefully think through what you plan on having them help with.  I allow Addie to help me put pots, pans, mixing bowls, and our popcorn bowls away in the floor cabinets.  For our silverware, I take out our fork and spoon holder and my container for our big, black, plastic cooking utensils (you know, the kind that holds every variety of plastic spatula and ladle known to man!).  As I dry the items, I pass them onto Addie and she puts them away.  Does she put everything away the way I would?  No.  But she is putting them where they go, and the time spent with her is more important that the placement of the items.
  • Setting the table- I can take a stack of plates, napkins, silverware and glasses to the table and have it set in no time flat.  But that misses the point of spending time with my daughter and keeping her involved in what Mommy is doing.  So I stand there and hand her one plate at a time, one fork at a time, and one napkin at a time (I put the knives and glasses on the table myself).  And you should see the look of pride on her face when she is done! 
  • Vacuuming- This just started this week.  We have a small, light-weight vacuum that we use to vacuum the kitchen, dining room, laundry room, and the bathrooms.  Addie walked up and said, "Addie's turn?"  I let her hold the handle, and she pushed it back and forth over the floor.  Mommy had to ask for a turn just so I could pick up some of the things she was leaving behind.  When I pulled out the heavy duty vacuum, I had to tell Addie that she couldn't have a turn.  But she loved the little vacuum, and I loved having her "help".
While shopping, keep them involved, talk to them, and let them feel useful.  People must think I'm strange as they pass me in the stores.  You may find me asking Addie to help me look for an item on my list, saying "I love you" with different sounds in my voice, counting items as they go into the cart, tickling Addie, and talking to her in general.  Does she feel loved and attended to by this?  I think so because on Wednesday as we were going through Winn Dixie, she pulled me to her, squeezed my neck, and said, "I love you, too!"  I had not said "I love you" to her first!

During nap time, use that opportunity to do your deeper cleaning and things you enjoy.  When Addie is up, my time is hers.  When she goes down for her nap is when I can deep clean the bathrooms, bleach the floors, scrapbook, blog, read, etc.  I would never want her to feel that these things take priority to her.

These are some simple ways you can have your little person help you.  You will be spending time with him/her, doing what you need to do, teaching them how to help around the house, and they will grow up knowing that chores are "just something we do".

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