You know what’s awesome about kids? At some point they get old enough to start doing things for you. You nurture and rear them for a good two or three years and you’ll find that eventually they get more and more capable of pulling their weight around the house.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you immediately delegate all household chores to your preschooler. I’m pretty sure that would not only violate child labor laws, but it would also likely drive you to the brink of madness because, well, while your three-year-old is eager to help, it doesn’t mean that he or she is very good at it yet.
At this stage, kids haven’t yet developed an acute attention to detail, which means that they may be capable of opening the dog food container, filling the little scoop with kibble, and depositing it (or most of it) into Fido’s bowl. However, they are not likely to stop at the prescribed 1/2 cup because it’s just way too much fun to scoop the food and watch Fido make it disappear. Two nights ago, Electra scored big when Cadence managed to throw three scoops into her bowl before I had a chance to swoop in and put an end to the feeding frenzy.
It’s also important to remember that kids this age have the attention span of a bumblebee and the coordination of a moderately tipsy college student. So, if I’m in the kitchen and Steve is sitting on the couch studying and wants a glass of water, Cadence is absolutely capable of helping out. However, like owning a Mogwi, there are really three rules here that should not be broken…
1. Never, ever let your three-year-old carry a breakable cup. I don’t care if you have the thickest, softest carpet in the world. He/she will find a way to drop a glass just right so it will shatter into a million little pieces and splash water all the way up to your 9-foot ceiling.
2. Don’t fill the cup any more than half full. In fact, don’t put any more liquid in the cup than you would like to have to clean off the floor.
3. Always, ALWAYS, follow up on the progress. Just because your kid heads out of the kitchen walking in the right direction, that doesn’t mean that he/she will actually arrive at the proper destination. Sometimes, halfway there, Cadence will decide that she’s thirsty too, and will take a hard left into the sunroom so she can grab a cup for herself from her play kitchen. She’ll fill it a few times, and realize how fun it is to actually have real water in her kitchen. Next thing we know, she out there washing all of her dishes and eating “soup” from the little pot on her stove while her Daddy sits on the couch wondering why he still so thirsty.
The best part about kids this age doing chores is that the little buggers are easily bribable. The promise of a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or a quarter to put in her piggy bank is enough to motivate Cadence to put away all of her toys every night before bed. And letting the dog out? Hell, she’ll do that for free, simply because she enjoys turning the deadbolt and hearing the delightful slam of the front screen door. It’s amazing how much more productive I am when I’m not having to let Electra out 67 times a day.
I tell you, I can get used to this view.