Posts Tagged ‘ jobs ’

When Do You Begin Toddler Chores?

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Fia loves tasks. Especially fun ones. Anything from helping me water plants to putting her stuffed animals to sleep. We had a little parent-teacher conference (yes, she’s 3. In preschool), and they suggested that over the break, give her a job to do. Phil and I thought feeding Wayne each night his dry food would be doable. She already does it with us a lot, so why not hand it over to her entirely?

We explained this was going to be her “job” everyday–that at the end of each week she would get 25-cents to put in her piggy bank. She seemed really enthused at first. She wanted to start right away. So we decided to feed the insatiable cat early. She carefully went over to the Tupperware bin and measured out his food. Of course Wayne is a beast and always knocks his giant head against the cup, so you have to dump it in his bowl fast or else it ends up on the floor. What I’m saying is there is technique involved. My child may or may not prove her genius in this task.

She managed to get most of it in the bowl.  Then I explained how important it is to snap the Tupperware lid back in place. Wayne could happily eat himself to death. He probably has Prader-Willi syndrome. I helped her latch it, then we gave her her first quarter. She was so excited and proud of herself, she insisted we run right up to her room and put it in the bank.

The next day we reminded her to feed Wayne. She did, but I forgot to check the lid until I heard loud chomping. He had devoured half the bin. Whatever. He may not be my Biggest Loser anymore.

By day three when I reminded her she started to protest.

“Fia, it’s your job. Come on, it’s fun!” I said, trying to make it a positive thing.

I led her over to his food. She saw some crumbs on the floor and refused to move closer. I swept them up. She’s lucky her mom is OCD on the cleaning front. Then she saw the speckles in the wood floor. The same speckles that have been there since 1928. “I can’t walk on those,” she whined. What???? She wouldn’t budge. Started to tantrum in fact.

I pulled the bowl and the bin over to her and made her do it with me. I was clearly frustrated. She kept whining as if I were cutting off her hand.

The next day it was the same push and pull. Forget it, I said. This is stupid.

But it got me wondering when is it time to teach them chores? I always had chores and a modest allowance growing up. I think it’s a good thing. I often carry the laundry up to Fia’s room and while we’re playing, I turn it into a sorting game where she picks out all her clothes (To my friend Holly who did this with all 4 of her kids–I remember your wisdom from years back). Then we practice folding. She carries her folded pants like a fragile egg to her drawer. It’s really cute actually.

I also always try and do some sort of “clean up” during the day. I guess that in itself is a “chore.” Though sometimes I just do it myself because it’s easier.

My father was a stickler for rules. To an absolute extreme. As in “sign in and sign out” charts, a book of 86 rules and weekly “family council” meetings. Believe me, I’ll blog about it someday. I am uber aware of not wanting to be like him in that regard.  I know, I know, she’s only 3 1/2 years old. But I’m just curious when you begin planting the seeds? Fill me in.


Pic of girl doing chore via shutterstock

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