From MOMSENSE Jan/Feb 2008 newsletter:
"One Tough Maid". - If you're an overworked, tired-of-feeling-like-I'm-doing-everything Mom, then read this!By Julie Barnhill
"We should all be so fortunate to live the fictional "Brady Bunch" lifestyle of Carol Brady. As the wife to Mike, mother to three golden-haired daughters and three stepsons, and employer to one live-in housekeeper named Alice Nelson, Carol, in my humble estimation, did, well, pretty much nothing. OK, maybe she put together an ice pack for the swelling on Marcia's nose during one episode, but that was about the extent of her household exertions.But Alice—oh, dear, Alice always had one serious "to-do" list to get through: Cook breakfast, fix school lunches, wash dishes, vacuum carpets, brush Tiger, dust, run to the butcher for beef tongue—again, help Cindy find her missing dolly, fix supper, wash dishes, replace Muffy's flea collar and make sure the Astroturf was mowed.Too bad for Alice (all that 24/7 cleaning and putting away), but who wouldn't want someone just like her in their home to keep everything going? I know I would have, especially when my children were preschoolers. But as I say to my kids when they're asking for the ridiculously impossible: "Hello, McFly! Is anybody home?"Chances are you, and the vast majority of moms reading this column, are not living the Carol Brady lifestyle. In all likelihood, you're an overworked, worn-out, tired-of-feeling-like-I'm-doing-everything and it's-time-these-kids-learned- how-to-help-out Alice who's seriously looking to change the way things are being done (or not) when it comes to the details of keeping a neater and thereby saner household.Good for you! But you're wondering, How do I get there, past the Legos, soiled Pull-Ups, Doodle Pro, half-finished coloring pages, cracked Veggie Tale DVD holders, crammed Cheerios between sofa cushions and freshly laundered but nevertheless piled-to-the-ceiling bath towels and onesies?By harnessing the Alice powers of your children! (Please don't pass out or roll your eyes and move on to the next article! Trust me, and keep reading.) One of the first things you need to recognize and seize upon as One Tough Mother is this: The preschool years are the years when most children want to learn to do household chores.Whoo-ha! Rather than continuing to attempt to do it yourself (or not at all, as the case may be for some) or postponing teaching simple housekeeping skills until you think they'll be able to do it easier—dive in now. There's no better time than today to initiate self-help skills that can grow your child's sense of contributing to the family and self-worth.But beware, the hardest part of stepping down from the role of One Tired Maid will be accepting results that are less than "perfect." But hey, Alice doesn't live here anymore. And we can shoot for perfect and never see change, or we can give a little on our expectations, apply a big dose of grace for effort and reap the benefits of teaching our children the satisfaction of helping their family.Repeat (and live) the One Tough Maid mantra: Don't do chores for my children that they can do themselves … (even if I can do them better).Julie Barnhill is One Tough Mother to three children, author of seven books and popular speaker nationally and internationally.Becoming One Tough Maid:Take the time to train and teach the chore. Don't assume because your child has watched you do all the work, she knows how to do what you're now asking.Establish clear and consistent chore times. With young children, it's important to break up responsibilities into manageable moments. During the preschool years, most chores will fall into categories of wake-up, meals and bedtime.Put together a child-friendly "cleaning kit." Include an old pair of socks for both the feet and the hands for dusting furniture and a child-sized water spritzer. Keep rag boxes handy in various areas of your home for window cleaning and for when spills happen and fast clean-up is needed. CLEARLY mark the adult-type cleaners with the "Do Not Touch" symbol (circle with a line through it). Place all dangerous cleaning products in a safe, secure location—far from a child's reach. Clearly instruct your child to use the cleaning supplies only found in his cleaning kit.Choose age-appropriate chores. Don't underestimate what a 3-year-old is capable of doing quite well!Go to www.MOPS.org/cleanup for a list of chores and other tips."
I need to swallow my pride and my"Things aren't done right unless I do them myself" attitude & be open to some imperfection. It's true, that preschoolers are more open to housework and helping. I know Wynn & Autumn both enjoy helping me do certain tasks but it is me that isn't always open to their help.