Anabelle is such a little helper. She follows me around and watches closely to everything I do. She always wants to help or participate, so lately I’ve been finding little ways to teach her how to pick up, clean, and cook with Mommy. If Mommy is doing it, then it must be fun, right?! Better take advantage of this apparent thought process while she’s interested… And why not start teaching her to clean and take care of herself early. It’s not like she’s going to have her own apartment any time soon, but I know that when I did move out, the easiest way for me to clean, cook, organize and do everything else that is involved with being on your own, was to fall back on what I knew from as far back as I can remember. Sometimes enlisting Anabelle for help means the task is going to take twice as long as normal. But the lesson she picks up from trying makes the extra time worth the trouble. Eventually she learns, and eventually it will actually be quite a help.
She may only be 16 months, but these are 5 ways that I’ve been starting to teach Anabelle how to help around the house:
1. Swiffer. Swiffering was one of the first things I was able to introduce to her. She always wanted to play with that big, green stick that Mommy pushes around the floor. So I bought her her very own Swiffer! I took out a couple attachments to make it a little smaller and vuola! A toddler-size Swiffer! To keep her interest, I only give it to her when I pull mine out so that she can copy me and help clean the floors.
2. Throwing away trash. Months ago, whenever I threw something away, Anabelle liked to open the trash can, pull out the piece of trash I just put in there, and look at it. So I started to tell her, “no, put that back.” Pretty soon I started giving her the trash, instead of throwing it away myself, and started telling her to put in in the trash. It took a little bit of guidance, but soon enough she was helping Mommy. Sometimes I still find the empty box of noodles across the house, but she’s learning.
3. Dusting. When I’m dusting she follows me around with her hand reaching up yelling at me. So I alternate giving her the dust rag and the feather duster. She likes the feather duster way better. So she copies me and we dust the house together. Might be investing in her own feather duster soon…
4. Cooking. Right now she is going through this phase where she likes to sit on the counter while I cook so she can see what I’m doing. I love it, but she’s starting to grab at the things I’m doing, which is not good when you are cutting. So I started giving her tasks to keep her busy while she sits and watches. For example, if I’m cutting the veggies for chicken soup, she moves the veggies from the board to the bowl. Win and win. And I’m teaching her to love cooking! Although I need to get her to stop taste testing pieces before adding them to the pot… And that sneezing…
5. “Put that back.” I taught Anabelle the meaning of this phrase months ago. I have these bookshelves full of books and nicknacks. Anabelle loves to get into the bottom few shelves. I keep some of her books on the bottom shelf and I have some stacking dolls that she loves to play with on the second shelf. When she is done playing with my dolls, I tell her to “put that back.” And then I take her hand as she hold the doll and we set it back where she got it. I realized that she was really understanding it a while ago when she brought one of the dolls across the house to me. I told her to put that back before she could have her bottle and she left to go put the doll away. Success!
Anabelle is still making a thorough mess every time she pulls out her own toys, but when she spills something, or takes something off the shelves that isn’t hers or does anything that’s not in her realm of playtime, she has to pick up after herself. We will eventually get to cleaning up her mess, but for now, her toys are the mess she is allowed to make.