I am a HUGE fan of outsourcing.
Any time I can get something off my own plate is a decluttering win for me.
One of my favourite ways of doing this is getting my kids to do it.
Ok, so you might feel more comfortable if we talk about “Teaching your children life skills” than low key child labour, and that might actually be more accurate anyway, but for me – looking at this is outsourcing makes it easier for me to let go of the perfectionism I battle on a daily basis (gold star me – I’m such a trooper).
So – teaching the kids life skills.
1. It’s my job as a mother to raise adults who can look after themselves. I want to know that when they show up at my door it’s not because they expect me to do their laundry… I don’t even want to do my own!
2. While they’re practising these skills, I don’t have to. Leaving more time for the things I want to do or prefer to do myself.
3. Kids who have more responsibilities and feel independent are less likely to act out because they feel like they have some power over their lives. The pride I see on their faces when I show appreciation for their help is truly heart-warming.
4. Mum’s work is valuable (whether ‘mum’s work’ is housework or paid work, teaching the kids to contribute to the housework teaches this belief.) They learn that housework is achievable but also not ‘just something that happens by magic’ AND that mum prioritises her paid work just like dad does because both are valuable. Our family is a team, each contributing to the great good.
Lead by example –
show them what you’re doing to make that magic happen. Don’t try to get all the housework done while the kids are at school or napping or while everyone else is having fun or relaxing. Let them see that it take work to keep the house tidy or their clothes clean. Talking (complaining) about it isn’t enough – that’s when you start to sound like the teacher from Peanuts “whao whao whaaaah waaa.”, they need to SEE it.
Ask for help –
start as young as you can but late is better than never. You can ask small children to ‘help’ by passing you pegs for the clothesline – it might take longer but they learn that they can contribute and it feels good. Continue to ask for more help as they get bigger and always look for ways you can help them contribute.
Even very little children can ‘help’ put on a load of washing or the dishwasher. You can even put a sticker on the settings you use the most. Ask them to load the clothes into the machine, or stack the spoons for you, then you can put the detergent in, and ask them to “press the butterfly!” to start the machine.
Obviously, you know you’re child best and approach this in a way that works for you – every little bit helps.
Set them up for success –
don’t ask them to do something without direction. No matter how simple and easy a task may seem to you, your child can’t know what to do or how to do it without an explanation, education, and practice. Show and tell them what you expect when you give them this task. Write down specific directions if that helps.
Accept imperfection –
This one kinda hurts. I like things done a particular way, but as long as the brief is met, I can accept that it wasn’t the way I would do it. Thank and congratulate as much as you can and make a mental note to be more specific next time you ask. Complaining that it wasn’t done properly usually leads to a sense of “why bother” in both myself and my child the next time – and that’s not fun for anyone.
*A NOTE ON APPROPRIATE CHORES: There are lists all over the internet with “age-appropriate chores” if you need inspiration. HOWEVER, as a mother of two ASD children, I find many of these lists unrealistic at best and downright insulting at worst. An “appropriate” chore is one that your child can realistically manage. Not one that other kids his age can do. Your child might be more capable in some areas and less capable in others. Choose tasks that are not too challenging for your child – who cares what the neighbour kids are doing? – not me.
If you’re reading this, it’s fair to assume you have kids. If you have kids, do you also have toy clutter? I can help with that! Check out my DIY course Combatting Toy Clutter.
Ready to get your stuff sorted but don’t know where to start? Start here with a free discovery call with me to find your next step.