Let’s Talk About Chores Because My Four Year Old Does Them
I’m sitting down to a cup of tea as I write this. It’s been a long day and I can’t tell you how nice it is to not have to do the washing up today. I spent an hour cooking and serving dinner and thankfully the four-year-old offered to pack the dishwasher and scrub the kitchen after our meal. He also makes a mean cuppa.
Perhaps in a dream world, right? In stark contrast to the above, I’ve just spent an hour scrubbing the kitchen after the regular marathon of prepping, cooking and having the dinner verbally and physically torn apart (OK so they actually love pasta bake but a bit of hyperbole never hurt anybody). The four-year-old is participating in some sort of tribal act with his figurines. He’s lining them up, flinging them at a wall and seeing which one lands further down the bed (but he’s doing it happily and quietly and sure isn’t that the main thing?).
Let’s talk about chores. I’ve recently started making it a semi-normal part of our day and I’m wondering if you do too. The little fella is almost four and he’s as cute and cheeky as you can imagine. Full of chat and especially curious about everything that enters his little world. It’s one big “why” these days and his ability to talk has changed remarkably. He wants to talk in depth about things. This morning saw a particularly serious conversation about where eggs come from. He wants to know how things work, why they happen and what happens if they, well, don’t happen. A couple of weeks ago the topic happened to be chores.
I was met with a hundred questions about why I clean the kitchen, take clothes from the washing machine (he doesn’t seem to realize I’m the one who puts them in too) and change the bedsheets (not as often as I should). Parents of four-year-olds will know that all questions warrant an actual answer that makes sense. Gone are the days where they can be fobbed off with one word or handed a toy to make them forget they asked a question. So on this occasion, I explained that if I didn’t do those things we wouldn’t have meals to eat, clean clothes to wear or very good health. And so began the topic of chores, tidying up and doing little jobs.
“Little jobs” has become the term that covers the area of chores for our four-year-old. Simple little tasks that I ask him to do for no other reason than them needing to be done. Sometimes it’s easier for me to do them and other times it genuinely helps me greatly that I don’t have to. Tasks include throwing a towel into the laundry basket, tidying up his toys and putting his shoes back where they go until the next day.
Every single time I ask him to do one of his “little jobs” he categorically asks me why. I explain the reason and about 70% of the time he accepts it, does the little job and awaits his praise. 20% of the time he requires serious coaxing. I’ll have to give him the impression that something is at stake and that it’s very important for him to do this special task. We’ve spoken about the harsh realities of falling over shoes and perhaps more seriously about children not getting a Kinder egg if toys aren’t put back in the toy box at the end of the day. 10% of the time he just says no and doesn’t want to hear another word about it. 99% of these times I choose my battles and leave him be. Because he’s four and I kind of like a little rebellion in my kid.
But yes, little jobs are a thing in our house and for the most part, it’s making life a little bit easier for me without making it massively unpleasant for him. Win-win I’d say.
Written by Tracey Quinn staff writer at Family Friendly HQ.