Teaching children household skills
I was chatting with some Mum's at the boys kindergarten today and I was sharing with them how I like to do a 'Mum Spot' for family night which we have every Monday night. This family night is an activity where we all get together - no excuses - and spend time learning from each other, playing games and having a yummy treat!
This conversation all started because they were commenting on how much washing/housework I must have to do. Yes, there is lots of washing and housework and finger prints and toys and books and dirt and dishes and mess and enough food on the floor to feed another family...
I am thankful I have such great kids to help me out and can help carry the load of keeping our house in order. Now that some of the kids are getting a little older it is wonderful that they can reach things - like the washing line- and can even take clothes off for me! Woo hooo!
As the mother of the home and the 'personal trainer' on most things cleaning and organising (I say MOST because Matt is wonderful at helping out at this too and he generally has more free time to teach things or so it seems), around here I generally take this training seriously. So I allocate time on our family night to teach a new skill.
Some of these 'skill training' moments have been lots of fun. It is also one of the few times that I have everyone's attention and I can get them all together at the same time.
Anyway, some of the things that I have done to teach the kids are:
Learning to fold a tea towel or face washer - I found this is great to start the kids off as it is a lot smaller than a bath towel and they can practice folding it over so that the edges touch and we talk about it being a square shape or rectangle.
Folding a bath towel - Once they have mastered the tea towel I then have taught them how to fold a bath towel in half length ways and how to hang it on the rail in the bathroom. Now just remember here they are little kids and the first couple of times it does not have to be hung straight, just hanging on the rail.
Setting the table - My kids learn this one early - even my 2 year olds can put a fork and knife on the table, crooked but still on the table.
Making a bed - Straightening out the blankets to begin with when they are little and then progressing up to learning to tuck in sheets and then learning how to change a bed by themselves.
Brushing teeth - Trying to learn to brush their teeth for 2 minutes and then also flossing.
Learning what a wash basket is - This may sound silly but I find as parents we forget that we take the names of items around the house for granted. Our children need to be taught what they are called. So pointing out where the wash baskets are in rooms and around the home and what they are used for is a big help. I do this to try to stop all the clothes being left on the floor!
Sweeping the floor - Sweeping the kitchen floor is actually a difficult skill to learn. I teach the children the process of sweeping under the table and the importance of creating a pile.
Using a dustpan and broom - This is great for younger kids as it is just the right size for them to hold and they can start by cleaning up the mess they make themselves!
Answering the phone - I teach them what I would like them to say and not what I would like them to say (example: mum is on the toilet...). I teach them to speak clearly and to ask people to call back if needed.
Answering the door - We teach our children that they are not to answer the door until an adult is with them. They can speak through the door and when they hear a knock they need to come and find me right away.
You can also use this time to teach:
how to put on socks,
put on shoes,
tie shoe laces,
tie hair back,
how to do up buttons or how to hold a knife and fork.
I want my kids to grow up independent and responsible. To be able to take care of themselves and their future families. Yes, it does take a lot of effort and planning and patience but the results are wonderful. Children who are motivated and happy and getting themselves organised gives me so much free time to do the things that I want to do.
We still have a long way to go around here but now that I am getting back on track I hope to see some sensational results.