Wednesday, August 10, 2011

100 (Attempted) Ways to Entertain a Young Toddler, Day 31: Pretend Chores

I'm no child expert. In fact, before I had Oliver, I'd spent almost no time around children at all. The only exception to that was when I babysat my younger cousins when I was fourteen.

I admit that I'm not a child expert, but, in my opinion, Oliver seems happiest when he knows he's helping out around the house. It seems to me that letting little kids have some responsibilities is good for them. The older they get, the more and more they can learn and try to do themselves. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see how that can be a bad thing. By learning how to handle stuff around the house, kids won't leave home being clueless how to, say, do the laundry or clean the tub/shower or sweep their floors. They'll know what needs to get done and how to do it.

I've always let Oliver help me. He likes to put away the clean utensils, and he likes to hand me the clean plates and bowls to put away. When we're about to run the dish machine, he likes to help me pour in the soap, and then he starts the machine himself. He loads laundry and likes to start the washing machine. When I fold the clean clothes, he always takes an article and shakes it out, mimicking me. I'm not allowed to sweep anymore until Oliver sweeps first. I pull out the broom, and once I start sweeping, Oliver *begs* me for it. I actually have two brooms, but that doesn't do the trick. As soon as I sweep a pile, Oliver sweeps it all over the floor. So, I let him sweep first, and then I get to it.

Once Oliver masters a chore, he's intent on mastering another. I have a difficult time making sure the tasks I give him are age appropriate. He has a difficult time understanding why I won't let him help with some things, like opening the oven. Don't get me wrong; he stays back when I tell him to. Still, when the timer goes off, he races to the oven and tries to open it. I also don't let him clean the toilets, even though he'd like to. Now that I'm pregnant, I don't use any chemicals and just use the brush to keep the toilets from getting icky. I know Oliver could do it and would have fun, but I worry that it's just a little too gross of a chore to expose a kid to. I also worry he'd want to use the toilet brush every day, and I'd have toilet water all over the house or something. Anyway.

Today, I decided that it's OK to teach Oliver some pretend chores. I had to purchase a new thing of laundry soap today. I looked at the empty one and decided that I could wash it out and let Oliver use it for pretend play. He's always wanted to help me with the soap, but I've never let him (although I let him open the soap drawer in the washing machine). He can't measure out laundry soap himself, and it'd be too messy for him to pour it himself. But who says he can't do pretend soap?

I rinsed out the empty laundry soap jug. That sounds easy, but it took forever. That stuff is really concentrated! Once I felt that it was adequately clean, I gave it to Oliver. It was a moment he'd been waiting for. He was so, so excited.

Here's him enjoying his empty jug of laundry soap:

After mastering the art of getting the lid on and off, Oliver decided it was time to practice pouring into the machine:
He *loved* it. I could tell how happy he was to finally be big enough to have his own soap jug. It really makes me want to keep brainstorming to figure out new ways Oliver can help. As I write this, I'm wondering if I couldn't let Oliver use the toilet brush to pretend to clean out his toddler potties. I bet he'd love it! Oliver has always enjoyed chores, and I've always enjoyed giving him chores and letting him help. I think pretend chores are just as good because he gets to learn and mimic Mom without potentially hurting himself or making the house worse for wear. Pretend chores get an A+!

Update: The following day, I decided to let Oliver have the toilet brush. I showed him how I can clean his potty with it I gave him the brush. He looked so excited and immediately started drooling. Oliver drools when he's focused and learning something new.

Oliver examined the brush and...
...ran off to the bathroom! He was not interested in pretend cleaning his little potty. Oliver wanted to clean the real toilet. So, he did:

After I let him get it out of his system, I went back to his little potty and again demonstrated cleaning it with the toilet brush. He took the brush back and ran back to the toilet. So, toilet cleaning turned into a real chore and not a pretend chore. Oliver still enjoyed it thoroughly.

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