Posts Tagged ‘chores’

Managing Visitors After Baby

Monday, August 8th, 2016

DSCN2516I learned after having my first daughter that people will offer to help and to “help” once you and your newborn arrive home.  Those who offer to help will show up with food and ready to do a chore or two while visiting.  Those who offer to “help” will show up ready to hold the baby so you can catch up on chores.  The following tips I learned while dealing with both helpers and “helpers” after the births of my daughters.

  1. Get on the same page as your husband or partner.  He will be your biggest ally in enforcing the boundaries you and he come up with.
  2. Set an amount of time for no overnight visitors (or even visitors period) once you arrive home.  I am a crying, milk leaking mess for the first week or so once we return from the hospital.  I prefer my privacy during this time.  Both my mom and mother in law offered to stay with us as soon as we got home.  I told them no for this very reason.  Decide how long you want your privacy without overnight guests and let family and friends know well in advance of the birth.  Enlist the help of your husband or partner to enforce this boundary.  Don’t let anyone make you feel pressured or guilty about this boundary.
  3. Create a to-do list in advance of chores that people can help with.  I am not comfortable with anyone doing our laundry or cleaning our bathrooms.  However, if you do a load of dishes, swifter my floor, or make a pot of coffee, I will love you forever!  Create a list of chores that need to be done that you are not too picky about and are comfortable with others doing so you’re prepared for when visitors ask what they can do to help.  Don’t be afraid to ask a “helper” to do a chore or two from the list if they fail to offer before they hold the baby, as well.
  4. Set ground rules for visitors before they come over.  Do you want visitors to have certain vaccines, wash and sanitize their hands, not bring their children, or stay a limited amount of time? Inform people of your rules before the birth in such a way that there is no conversation or negotiations.  Have your husband or partner help enforce these rules when the visitors come over.  The baby is your newborn.  You get to decide what is best for your baby and family, no matter what others think or feel.
  5. Set aside private areas of your home.  My upstairs, purple bathroom was mine and mine only for the weeks after both of my births.  I didn’t want to have to worry about having it company clean when I was bleeding (a lot).  My bedroom was also my sanctuary to take the baby when I needed a few quiet moments, to cry, or to work on breastfeeding without an audience.  Again, have your husband or partner help enforce that these areas are private.

Do not be afraid to set strict boundaries and speak up about them.  This is your recovery and bonding time.  You are in charge of this precious time.  You want to be able to look back fondly on it, not have memories of people hogging your baby, disrespecting your wishes, and otherwise stomping on your postpartum time.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom from Denver, CO to two girls, 3 years and 11 months old, who enjoys cooking, running, and hiking.

Little Helpers

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Speeding through the house pushing the vacuum cleaner before the kids catch me and attempt to help.
Keeping folded clothes in the laundry basket before a child tries to model clean underwear on their head or scatter clean clothes around the room.
Emptying the dishwasher before a toddler tries to climb inside of it.
I feel like I am stuck in a video game when I clean my house with my kids around.
I try to get most of the cleaning done when my little helpers are preoccupied, contained in their high chairs, or better yet when they are not around.  For example, while they are eating, I empty / fill the dishwasher, clean the kitchen, and sweep.
If I remember some simple rules to the cleaning game, I feel like a winner.  When I let my kids help me, they feel like winners.  The reality is that toddlers get some great satisfaction from helping.  They want to be a part of what is going on.  Teaching them to help at a young age sets the stage for having good helpers in the future (I hope.)

Things I allow my little helpers to help me with:

-Water plants
-Dust tables
-Put clothes in the washer / dryer
-Wash their highchair trays and dishes that they cannot break
-Cook and bake with me
-Pack their lunch for preschool
-Pick up toys and books and put them away
-Put food in the cat’s bowl
-Put dishes in the sink
-Put clothes in their hampers
-Help with the garden
This list continues to grow on a regular basis as my kids express interest in helping with certain tasks or as I am in need of a couple extra little hands.
Sarah Cole is a stay at home mom of two toddlers who like to make messes while she is cleaning other messes.

The No-Nag Chore Chart

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

The no-nag chore chartFull disclosure: I am a mom of three girls, and my oldest is 6. I am fully aware that I am only mutton-bustin’ when it comes to this parenting thing. I haven’t had to get on the big one and ride for eight seconds yet.

That said, three is enough to gang up on you entirely. They can be a huge help and also a whirlwind of disaster that spins through the house, leaving devastation in its wake. There are days when I feel like there simply isn’t enough of me to meet all the needs and stay sane, even with all the patience I have had to learn over the years.

Because my kids are small, any help I get is a bonus. Even if they had legitimate chores, they wouldn’t be done to my expectations, and there would be a lot of clean up still to do. The help I do get isn’t worth arguing, fighting or nagging over—that is more exhausting than the actual cleaning. So I came up with this. It won’t work for everyone, but it’s an idea I hadn’t seen before, and it’s actually working at our house.

It’s pretty simple. There’s no printable, no calendars, no boxes to check, no lists to make. Just draw a grid and slap your child’s name on it. Then decide on a reward that’s mutually agreeable, and let them earn it. You can reward physical work, kindness, patience, self-restraint, or any value you feel needs to be emphasized or rewarded right now.

Right now, my six-year old has to do 21 chores to earn a trip to pick out a toy under $20.  The three year old has to complete 14. The rules are that they must think of the chore and do it themselves. There is no time frame. If I have to ask them to do something, like clean a room, make a bed, pick up after themselves, clear the table, then it doesn’t count. If I help the oldest, it doesn’t count. The younger two simply have to pitch in and help someone else. I don’t expect them to do chores totally on their own yet, but they have surprised me at times.

It takes time for them to catch on. I can’t tell you how many times I suggested my oldest think of a chore to do to earn a sticker and I was met with a passive, “Maybe later.” But then she realized how close she was and did seven chores in one day. I have already noticed the frequency of help increasing with my oldest, and that momentum can be contagious.

As my kids grow, the idea can grow with them. They may need to do two chores a day consistently; maybe I will pick a chore they must complete weekly for a month to get a reward. Maybe they will have to volunteer a certain number of times a month. The tasks should shift to helping others outside our home instead of just me.

My goals with the chore chart were to get help without fighting for it, because that was taking more out of me than the chores were. I wanted them to be proactive. I want my kids to shift their focus outward, and we all need help to do that. Building kindness and empathy in your child takes time and persistence. But when I see them help each other, care for each other, and love each other in a way my sibling and I never did, I begin to think that this may have effects that reach far beyond the state of my house.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York. 

Toddlers and Chores

Friday, September 19th, 2014

IMG_1437Yes, toddlers can do chores. Will it help your workload? No. Will it be easy to get them to do them? No. Are they motivated by bribes, allowance or privileges? No. Will it quite possibly be more work for you? Yes.

So what’s the point?

I think most people initiate toddler chores to lay a foundation that we all make messes, and we all help clean up. Even toddlers can understand this simple idea. Plus, when you are home with a toddler, they really have to be in sight at all times. Silence can be deadly–or at least messy—so when you can find a way for your toddler to help you with a job you are already doing, everyone wins.

Another plus is that you can show your child how to do something or have them help you several times, and then wait for them to initiate. When they do, it’s a huge sense of achievement for you both! I hate nagging, especially when I am the one doing it, so my preference is to throw a PARTY when one of the girls takes initiative. Studies show positive reinforcement is much more effective anyway, so you can save your breath and your frustration by giving your child the tools to be a helper and then reward them when they put it into action. It takes a little more patience, but it’s worth it.

Here are some easy ways to set up your home so that your toddler has opportunities to help:

  • Toy baskets or bins at floor level: I find that fabric or plastic bins without lids are the most effective way to store toys. Toddlers are experts at the game “put X in Y.” It’s their favorite game. When you keep the toys in bins on the floor, it makes it easy for your toddler to help clean up. I also keep a basket in the bathtub for bath toys.
  • Care for outdoor plants or flowers. Kids love being outdoors, and gardening with your toddler can help them learn where food comes from. If you have outdoor plants, watering is an easy chore kids can do themselves and you don’t have to worry about making a mess.
  • Tiny laundry baskets. I found a very small, light plastic laundry bin for my girls to help me with laundry, and they love it. They can help you load or unload the dryer, take folded items to their room, or use it to help clean up. It’s just the right size for them to carry without being too large or heavy.
  • Plastic plates. Using plastic dishware for your toddlers saves your nice dishes, and it makes it realistic for them to help clear the table after meals. Just be sure to scrape leftovers onto someone else’s plate first.
  • Diaper drawer. My 18-month-old always helps me put away her diapers, and gets a new one when she needs it. I have the diapers in the bottom drawer of her dresser in her room, and a diaper basket downstairs that she can reach, too.
  • Clean as you go. Don’t wait for there to be a big mess before you clean up. If you teach them to pick up one game or toy before getting out another, or to put all their clothes in the hamper before bath, they will develop neat habits that help you out every day without having to stop and clean.

Songs and games are a great way to encourage helping. When we sing the clean up song at our house, it’s like Clara has been hypnotized—she drops what she’s doing, starts singing and picking up things. Routine can help, too. Make it a habit and be consistent, but don’t expect perfection.

My house is not clean all the time, and I don’t get help all the time. But sometimes my girls jump in and help without asking, and it makes me feel so loved and so proud of them. I don’t care if my house is neat and tidy every minute of the day, but I do want to raise girls who notice the contributions of others and try to do their part without being nagged.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York. She’s currently trying to figure out how to work the clean-up song hypnosis on her husband.   

Taming Your Toddler Around Your Family Pet

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Taming Your Toddler Around the Family PetThe bond between a child and a pet is a remarkable one, but how do you tame your toddler around your family pet and help keep both safe and happy?

Benefits of Pets for Toddlers:

Ever notice how confident a child is when reading a book or talking in baby babble to the family pet? Having a pet in your home can help your toddler with learning. Kids seem to be more relaxed around the family pet, rather than a family member.

Animals also help comfort kids–their soft texture and no-judgment personalities can be comforting to any toddler. Pets can help with health issues, too. According to the Medical College of Georgia, having multiple pets in your home can decrease the amount of allergies your toddler develops.

Teach your toddler responsibility while helping them learn to feed the family dog or give the family cat her daily treats. My home is the home of Kate, a 9-year-old brown tabby who would rather sleep than play. If my daughter just won’t leave the kitty alone, we use the opportunity to learn. She helps mommy by getting kitty her treats. She gets them out and puts them away. She is the one responsible for feeding them to kitty. Pets develop nurturers in young people and teach them about their world, one lick or bark at a time.

Tips on Taming Your Toddler:

Here are a few tips on how to tame your toddler around the family pet:

  • Lead by example. Show your little one how to treat the animal gently and with care.
  • Don’t punish when your little one lashes out. Be patient with your toddler. Remember, they’re still learning. Use the opportunity to teach.
  • Reward good behaviors. If you see your little one treat the family cat nicely or put up their treat bag, make a point to reward this behavior.
  • Teach using visual aids. Get your toddler a few fun animal toys and teach them how to take care of their pet. They will love the toy, and you will love the chance to show them something new.

When all else fails, remember that your family pet is a part of your family, but ultimately, your kids come first. We recently had to get rid of one of our cats due to issues at home. While it made me very sad, I also knew it was the best choice for our family at this time. The kitty has a new, loving home, and Johanna still has her other kitty to love on.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana who has always been a cat person.