Having kids helping with housework is a lot harder than I ever could have imagined it would be.
Does it make me a bad person that I just can’t handle having their help all the time? I hope not. But the truth is, I’ve found that if I don’t intentionally pace them. Because the alternative is fingernails on a chalk board.
On the other hand, ignoring them to tend to housework doesn’t work either. You know how that goes; first, they want to know when you’ll be done so you can play with them, then they give up, and go play by themselves, next thing you know, they’re fighting. THEN, they won’t let go of your legs.
I’ve found that there are three main ingredients to successfully getting your kids to let you get work done, and they’re actually quite simple.
How To Get Your Kids To Let You Get Stuff Done
Give them lots of love. You can’t take time away from your kids without making up for it. When you need some time to yourself to get things done, make sure to fill up your kid’s “love tanks” before hand. they will be SO much more likely to play peacefully when they feel loved.
Give them something to do. We have a few specific “quite time” games and toys reserved just for those times when I need to speed through housework without too many helping hands. With little ones, don’t expect them to be able to entertain themselves without direction. You have to give them something specific to do. They will beg you for it. Literally.
Make it routine. Kids thrive on routine – they like knowing what to expect, and truthfully, so do most adults. So make full-on housework time part of your regular routine and you’ll find that planning ahead with the first two ingredients (filling their love tanks, and giving them an activity), will be much easier to do.
Some ways to fill their love tanks:
- Read to them
- Play whatever they want to play with them
- Take them on a nature hike
- Answer their questions
- Give hugs
Our Favorite Quiet activities:
- Mighty Minds. Our four-year-old adores figuring out the the shape puzzles. It’s fabulous Brain exercise!
- Teddy Mix and Match. They’re really meant for pre-schoolers, but our toddler loves them anyway. She sorts them into piles, and even puts them all in the box with the lid on when she’s tired of them. 🙂
- Coloring Books. Oddly enough, our toddler is more keen on coloring than our preschooler, but for both of them, it’s a great quiet activity that keeps them busy while I work – even if they’re building crayon forts on the table rather than actually coloring!
- Playdough. Our favorite is baking soda play dough. I don’t know why I bother making different colors – it all ends up in one big lump within five minutes, but they love it, and it keeps them busy for upwards of 30 minutes at a time which is a record for my kids. 😉
Of course, all of these things only keep them occupied for so long, and that’s as it should be. More often than not, our kids need to be with us in the thick of things, helping out the best way they can, but more importantly, they need to get into the habit of being productive members of the family.
In our house, Garrett, who’s four, helps with the dishes – rinsing and stacking in the dish drainer – after breakfast in the morning, but after lunch is when I need to have a few minutes to do them myself so that everything can be done thoroughly, and without being interrupted countless times.
Whatever household chore it is that you need a break from having help with, just remember: pace yourself and them, and give them something to do while you get your work done.
Your turn: How do you get your kids to let you work?
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