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Keep kids busy with household chores during lockdown

Most of us in India got a sweet taste of doing our own household chores thanks to the current lockdown. Not only do we have a new found respect for our domestic help but we are now excellent as work delegation. Most often we tend to leave the younger kids out thinking they wouldn’t be able to help. Many parents also don’t want to pass the chores to kids as it would just add on to the time as kids would need monitoring. I agree that they would ask multiple question and you might have to just do the work again as they might not do it properly or not take it to completion. The idea of delegating work is not just to lighten your own work but it offers many other benefits. They might not do it properly the first few times but just like us they get better at it with support and time. We also need to make sure that the work allocated to them is something they can do independently or do with very little support. This gives them the sense of accomplishment and keeps them motivated just like any other activity they might be attempting for the first time.

One of the longest grant Harvard study that followed 456 teenage boys for more than 70 years suggests that the professional success in life is directly related to doing chores at a young age. This is outlines by Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford and author of “How To Raise An Adult” in her TED talk How To Raise Successful Kids—Without Overparenting.

It makes sense to have them start early. I remember my daughter wanting to hold the broom and sweep the house even though she could barely walk without support. All toddlers want to do is imitate the adults so let load the washing machine and help carry the laundry even though its easier to let them not do these. If you get them involved early on, it is easier to form the habit then asking them to adapt later when they have many more things to keep them busy. Having toddlers and preschooler help around the house is also a great way of working on their gross and fine motor skills. Watering plants, carrying laundry , helping with carrying grocery, basic cleaning helps them develop their hand eye coordination as well. As they grow bigger, they can help clean their room, make their beds, set up dinner table, fill up water bottle. We have made some simple household work as part of our daughter’s routine. Children work best with a schedule and get into a routine quite easily.

Chores that can done by your toddler (2-3 years)

  • Cleaning up Toys and Books
  • Keeping Shoes in the shoe rack
  • Putting clothes in the laundry basket
  • Putting clothes in the washing machine

Chore that can be done by your preschooler (4-5 years)

  • Dusting and cleaning
  • Arranging books and toys
  • Folding clothes
  • Watering plants
  • Setting up and clearing dinner table
  • Making their beds
  • Arranging bookshelves
  • Putting away Groceries

The list is a generalisation for the children based on their age and you are best judge of what your child can handle. Some of these would need your support initially and you might need to give them a lot of motivation just like you would do when getting them to write or read etc.

How to ensure that the chores are done without a meltdown:

Motivate: Assist them in their chores till they are ready to do it themselves. Reward positive behaviour and be generous with compliments.

Set a Routine: Make the chores part of their daily routine. For instance ask the kids to make their beds everyday. You can choose any task that you think they would be able to do by themselves and make it a part of their daily routine just like brushing their teeth.

Keep an order: Children work best with a schedule. It is easier if they know when they are expected to do a certain task. For instance water the plans after they finish their breakfast or clean up their room before lunch.

Make it fun: You can have some songs associated with certain task or make some games to keep the chores fun. You can cards for chores and have various games around the cards like random selection of chores etc.

Be consistent: Forming a habit takes time and you might need to keep telling them to do the work everyday. Once they get the feeling that there is no way around it, they will take part in it without any reminders.

Cut some slack: Don’t expect them to do the work the way you would do it and dont jump in the moment you feel something needs extra cleaning. This would defeat the whole purpose. You want them to feel that they have accomplished something and not the other way round.

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