Chores for Children and Learning How to “Adult”

Photo by Catt Liu. From www.unsplash.com

Have you heard of “adulting” classes? Apparently this is the new thing where young people are taught basic life skills like how to do laundry, how to balance a checkbook, how to get a car’s oil changed, or how to cook basic meals. Why is this happening? Why is this necessary for some people? I wonder, is purely an American problem or a first-world problem?

Home Economics classes are not taught in many schools any longer, they were phased out at my previous high school in the 1980s. In some households parents work long hours or aren’t always present. I have heard some parents say that “kids should be kids” and not have to do chores or that, “My parents made me do so much around the house I don’t want to be the parent that makes my kids do that.” That may work for some households as some parents, but not for us. I want to prepare my kid for life on their own and adulthood.

When I was a child I would help my mother clean house on Saturdays, have a daily list of chores during summer vacation, and have daily chores to do, as well. I would accompany my mother shopping, help cook meals, assist my dad fix a broken toilet, learn how to change a car tire, paint houses with my grandparents, etc. While I may have grumbled and not always felt grateful at the time, I feel that it provided me with the knowledge and experience to be successful as an adult.

I am a big believer in children learning to do simple, age-appropriate chores. This allows them to learn, have simple “jobs” they can take pride in, and gives them a small amount of responsibility to build upon as they get older.

Abby is only two, but she helps me with some things around the house each day.

Chores for young children:

1. Throwing away diapers

2. Placing dirty clothes in her hamper

3. Putting away her shoes and coat

4. Picking up toys and books

5. Help make her bed

6. Help fold laundry and match socks

7. Help separate laundry into piles for washing

Chores children a little older can help with:

1. Setting the table before a meal

2. Clearing the table after a meal

3. Sorting recycling

4. Taking out the trash

5. Dusting

6. Putting away laundry

7. Feeding pets

Older children and teenagers can help with:

1. Washing dishes

2. Loading/unloading the dishwasher

3. Vacuuming

3. Dog walking

4. Washing laundry

5. Raking leaves

6. Mowing grass

7. Help cook

What age did you start having your children do chores? What do your kids help you with? How are you preparing your children to be successful adults?

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Let’s Potty

Photo by Amy Reed. From www.unsplash.com

Today I decided to be daring and dress Abby in underwear instead of a pull up. I would like to say it was because I have confidence that she would take to it right away, realize she always needs to use the toilet, and we would all live happily ever after. But no, I really did it because I am tired of pull ups and messes. Yesterday she had more dirty pull ups than successful toileting attempts.

This has taken longer than I expected it to. Since I last wrote about our adventures in potty training Abby progressed a lot, to the point where I thought we were almost finished. She was staying dry every day, with only occasionally having accidents at night. She was a good example for her older potty training cousin Mallory, who had been refusing to poop or pee except in a diaper and would hold her poop in for days in defiance; Mallory has since finished with pull ups and is exclusively wearing underwear.

Unfortunately, after Oscar was born she has regressed substantially. I am back on the schedule of asking her if she needs to potty every thirty minutes. When I ask she will usually say no and then soil her pants. I’m not sure if it is because she is in need of extra attention or if it is for some other reason.

She was incredibly excited to finally wear the Peppa Pig undies. She refused to wear pants because she wanted to keep checking out her underwear.

We started out well, with her telling me two different times that she needed to potty. The next time I noticed her stand up from her Sesame Street chair and start pulling at the crotch of her undies. I figured that we would have at least one accident today and I had hoped that the wet sensation of pee in her underwear would feel so uncomfortable that she would get it. Diapers these days are so good at wicking away moisture that I’m not sure she has ever really felt wet.

I cleaned her up and put on a new pair. She promptly peed in them, even though I tried to put her on the toilet several times. Because it was almost nap time I put her in a pull up and planned to try again later. She was dry when she awoke, but soon peed and pooped.

My plan didn’t pan out. Back to the drawing board!

A Better Day

Photo by Caleb Woods. From www.unsplash.com.

Yesterday was a tough day. Since it was Saturday the whole family was home together. I had a headache all day. Abby was tired and crabby and did not want to listen at all. I must have been crabby too, because I heard “Mom, you mad with me?” about a million times. The baby wanted to nurse non-stop. My husband was busy working on projects around the house. Abby ended up going to bed two hours late.

I woke up this morning hoping for a better day and determined to make it one. “Mommy, you my best friend,” Abby said in her sweet little voice as I changed her pull up. “I love you eyes. I love you knees. I love you elbows.” She smiled up at me.

It will always be a good day when I hear that.

Getting Used to Life with a Newborn Again

Photo by Jenna Norman. From www.unsplash.com

Baby Oscar is now six weeks old. I love having him lay all scrunched up in a ball on my chest. His smell and soft fuzzy head is intoxicating. This week he has even given me several early smiles (I swear they weren’t gassy ones!) It has been wonderful staying home and snuggling with him each day, but I am still trying to get used to having a newborn.

I had forgotten how many noises a newborn makes. Like his sister did, he sleeps in a Pack and Play in our bedroom at the foot of our bed. All night long I find myself sitting up and hurriedly grabbing my eyeglasses from my nightstand so I can check on him after being woken by a strange sound. In my already sleep-deprived state, I have often resorted to sleeping with my head at the foot of the bed, glasses on, positioned so that I can see over the footboard and side of the Pack and Play. He makes lip smacking sounds when hungry, grunts when trying to pass gas or poop, dinosaur-like noises when stretching, kittenish mews, sweet yawns, and pissed off crying screams.

Unlike Abby, who can generally tell me what is wrong or what she needs, I have been plunged back into “what does baby need?” I feel a little more skilled this time around, but it is still hard to assess when Oscar is screaming for no apparent reason. Is it gas? Is he hungry again, so soon? Is something really wrong? Is he over-tired? Too hot? Too cold? Did his sister do something? Was it a spider in his bed? A sleep-deprived brain can come up with anything.

Maybe it is just my anxiety, but I feel the need to check on him whenever I hear something odd, so I don’t get much sleep, even though he sleeps way more than his sister did at this age. You would think that since this is my second child I would be a little more relaxed, but I can’t seem to be. It doesn’t help that a trillion articles about SIDS seem to show up in my Facebook newsfeed each day, making me paranoid.

Another thing I have had to get used to is diaper changes. I must admit I have been peed on quite a few times. I was not prepared for the speed and accuracy at which my tiny baby boy is able to shoot urine. And the poop! This kid uses at least two clean diapers per diaper change because I swear it is his mission to poop as I am changing him or as I am dressing him.

He wants to nurse all the time, and as of yesterday, has gained almost six pounds since leaving the hospital. I don’t mind too much, now that we finally seem to have the nursing thing down pat. I have been trying to get him to take a pacifier, because I think that a lot of the time he acts like he wants to nurse he is just really using me as a pacifier. We’ve tried five different ones and finally found one he will take, but he hasn’t figured out how to keep it in, so unless someone holds it the pacifier pops out and he wakes or gets upset.

With Abby being older I had forgotten how restrictive it can be to have a young baby. He wants to be held all the time. Sometimes I don’t get to take a shower for a couple days. My coffee is constantly going cold before I can drink it. Often I am so busy I forget or don’t have time to eat. The cycle of nurse, change diaper, clean up spit up, seems never-ending. I am waking up every hour and a half again to nurse at night.

I am so relieved that Abby hasn’t shown any signs of jealousy towards her brother. I am sad because I feel like I have to pay so much attention to the baby that I don’t get to spend as much time focusing on and interacting with her. I try to give her extra attention when I can, but it is not always possible. Whereas she always wanted to sit on my lap, have only me get her a drink, snuggle with me at bedtime, etc., now it is “Daddy, come snuggle me!” that comes over the baby monitor at night. I must admit that I can’t help feeling like the third wheel now. I know how my husband must have felt when Abby was in the difficult stage where she only wanted Mommy.

I am so tired that I want to check out at 8:00 p.m. every night. I usually go to bed at 9:00. I feel bad doing that because it means I get little to no time to spend with my husband. No more Netflix in the evenings together. We barely get to have a conversation at dinner time between Abby talking or the baby crying. I hate it because I don’t want him to feel neglected. I miss spending time together.

All too soon my maternity leave will be over and I will return to work. It is going to be so difficult to know someone else is taking care of my baby, to wonder how both kids are doing all day, to know I am missing seeing my baby’s milestones while I am sitting at my desk. For now, I am going to enjoy it while it lasts.

Just Chill

Photo by Viktor Hanacek. From www.picjumbo.com

Having a two-year-old and a newborn is great, most of the time. Abby is old enough that she wants to be my helper. She enjoys fetching burp rags, throwing away diapers, and other small tasks. Other times, it can be an exercise in seeing how long I can keep my cool. Sometimes I swear Abby tries to find as many ways as possible to do the opposite of what I say.

Picture this: the baby is sleeping, Abby is quietly coloring at her small table while watching a cartoon, and I finally get a moment to have breakfast and a hot cup of coffee three hours after everyone else. Immediately, Abby is drawn to the noisiest toy in the room.

“Do not touch that rattle,” I say, “your brother is sleeping.” Her life’s purpose becomes to get that toy, make as much noise as possible, wake the baby, and deny me a much needed moment of peace, quiet, hot coffee, and a moment to myself. When my attention has turned elsewhere she picks up the rattle, shakes it in front of the baby’s face, gives him kisses, trips on a toy, and knocks over a bunch of other toys. “Leave your brother alone!” I hiss. Keep calm, she loves the baby, she wants to help.

“Why?” She asks innocently, although we have had this same conversation probably about five hundred times. She knows the answer.

“Oscar is sleeping, sweetie. You can play with him later, after he has woken up. Babies need a lot of sleep. I need you to be quiet for a while and leave him alone.” I get up to deposit my cereal bowl in the kitchen sink and come back to find her jiggling his bouncy seat and shaking a different rattle in his face. Ugh!

“Oscar, I love you. Oscar! Here’s your toy! Oscar!” She sings in a loud voice. He blinks and squints and squishes up his face before falling back asleep. “Mom, I see him?”

“Abby, please go sit down, away from your brother, and be quiet!” For about three minutes she complies, but then as if someone hit the reset button she is right next to him again. The color book and episode of PJ Masks forgotten.

“Mommy, me give him hugs?” She piles baby toys onto his lap. “Oscar, hi Oscar!” She yells. Luckily, he turned his head to the side and kept sleeping.

I drop the towel I was folding and pick her up. “Please, let him sleep.” I give her a squeeze and a kiss on the top of her head. “He needs sleep. I know you want to play with him, but I need you to let him be. You find something else to play with for a few minutes. I will finish my coffee and finish folding towels. He will wake up on his own when he is ready.”

I fold all of the laundry and walk around the loveseat to the linen closet, literally five feet away. When I glance at Abby she is focused on the TV and sitting on the couch. While my back is turned, for all of twenty seconds placing towels on the shelf, she has scrambled to his side, is rubbing his head with one hand, and is trying to unzip his sleeper with the other.

“Mom, he needs new clothes. I help.”

“Abby-” aaaaand cue the baby crying.

“Just chill out!” I say, not sure if it is to her, the baby, or myself.

OK, it was mostly to myself.

Bye Bye, Binky

Photo by Vanessa Serpas. From www.unsplash.com

I didn’t offer Abby a pacifier until she was six months old and her breastfeeding was well established, as recommended by her pediatrician and my lactation specialist. Prior to that, she would sometimes suck on her thumb, but it wasn’t something that she did often. I tried five or six different brands and styles of pacifiers until she found one that she liked. She was very picky about bottle nipples and woukd only take MAM brand ones, so I guess it made sense that she would only take a MAM pacifier too. The pacifier seemed like a lifesaver at first because she would use that for comfort, rather than always wanting to be attached to my breast.

Abby is very attached to her “binky.” I have been wanting to break her pacifier habit for a few months, mainly because I know she doesn’t really need it any longer, I want her to talk more rather than to keep a plug in her mouth all day, and because of orthodontic concerns. My sister sucked her thumb until she was six and developed a gap in her front teeth requiring braces for correction.

She does not use a pacifier at daycare. She takes it out and places it with her jacket and shoes when she arrives. As soon as we get to the car when I pick her up in the afternoon though, she is insistent on having her binky back. If we leave it at daycare or if we do not have one she will often cry, pout, or whine about it all the way home. She will not forget about it and constantly bring it up until she gets one; it’s almost like she has separation anxiety when apart from it for too long.

I have been hesitant to completely take the pacifier away. My biggest concern is that trying to do that while she has been ill, potty training, and soon to have a major life change with a new sibling will cause her to have more tantrums or regress with her successes in potty training. I also want to work on how she falls asleep at night- since she changed from the crib to the twin bed she requires someone to lay with her until she falls asleep, which is not a practical or sustainable habit that I wish to continue, especially with a baby who will be here soon. For the past week I have only been allowing her to use binky at night.

I am debating on how long before I completely do away with the pacifier. I am afraid that if I do it now I will have more trouble when we take on sleeping alone at bedtime. I also don’t want it to be a crutch that I allow her to hang on to for too long. Selfishly, I have also hesitated because she has finally started sleeping longer and waking less often at night, and Mom needs sleep. And, admittedly, part of me isn’t fully ready for my baby girl to give up one of her last pieces of babyhood either.

I think next week we will finally take the leap. I will let you know how it goes!

How long did your children use a pacifier? How did you go about getting rid if it? How old were they at the time? I would love to hear your experiences.

Terra Cotta Wind Chime Project

This afternoon Abby and I had lots of fun making wind chimes. We made one for both of her grandmas and one for her. I had recently seen a photo of similar chimes online, but it didn’t have instructions. I thought that it wouldn’t be too difficult to put together and would be something fun that Abby and I could do together, plus it would be a project that would allow her to work with her motor skills.

In the morning we went to walmart to pick out our supplies. I let Abby pick out all the colors to use.

What you need:

Terra cotta pot

Leather cord or something similar

Washers

Beads

Large buttons (not pictured)

Paint

Acrylic jewels

Hot glue/glue gun

First Abby painted the pots.

We let them dry over lunch and then took a nap. After that, we used the leather cord to make a large loop for hanging. I then knotted the cord through a big button and put the cord through the bottom of the pot. I thread the cord through another button and knotted it again.

I tied two washers to the cord. Abby strung pony beads on the cord and I knotted the ends.

She picked out rainbow colored jewels to place on the outside of the pot for added sparkle. I glued them on around the edges of the pots.

Abby is very excited to give each grandma her chime.

You can change up the design by adding different beads, bells, sea shells, feathers, or other items.

Have fun! If you make a chime I would love to see your project!

More Ridiculous Things I Have Told My Toddler

Photo by Viktor Hanacek. From www.picjumbo.com

Every day it seems I find myself saying something crazy to my kid. Most of the time I forget to write it down, but occasionally I remember. Enjoy!

1. You’d better watch out, you just about poked yourself in the eye with your toe.

2. Your chicken is not a phone. Eat it.

3. Your turtle doesn’t swim in milk.

4. Don’t rub ketchup in your armpits.

5. Quit licking your toe and go pee.

6. No, I won’t show you my boobs in the middle of Walmart.

7. Crayons do not work better if they are put up your nose.

8. You can’t look through my belly button to see the baby.

What a Day

Photo by Viktor Hanacek. From http://www.picjumbo.com

Before I start, just a little disclaimer: this is not the post I planned to publish today. Instead, I needed to vent a little bit about my day so far. I will warn you, I do get a little graphic, so I’m sorry.

I woke up to the sound of my husband’s alarm clock at 6:00 a.m. because mine didn’t go off at 5:00 a.m. When I tried to roll out of bed (rolling my rotund form is easier than trying to sit up these days) I was struck by an awful leg cramp. Holy moly, that hurt. I limped my to the kitchen to start coffee and begin breakfast. Both my husband and daughter took three attempts to rouse them out of bed, so they also were late to get up, late to get ready.

As I was getting ready for work after my shower, brushing my teeth made me feel sick to my stomach. A few minutes later I puked up all of my breakfast and coffee. Yay, oatmeal with raisins- Not going to eat that again for a long while. I am a very violent vomiter (is that even a real word?) and when I looked in the mirror I noticed that I had broken several blood vessels in my face and have red spots all over my cheeks and around my eyes. Soon I get sick again and this time puke so hard that I pee on the floor. Ugh. Being pregnant is great sometimes. I gave in to my emotions and sat and cried for a few minutes.

After quickly taking another shower I get dressed and begin applying makeup. At this point I feel like I have something stuck in my throat and keep coughing. I drink water but it doesn’t help. Abby has to go potty so I sit her on the toilet and then the coughing makes me sick again. I quickly run for the other bathroom, luckily only steps away, as I try to cover my mouth and yell to her to stay on the potty at the same time. I lose the rest of my breakfast and clean up again. After placing Abby back on the potty (she got off to see where I was headed to so quickly), helping her put on a pull up, and then washing her hands, I look in the mirror to fix my hair, only to notice that my mascara has run and I now look like a cross between Alice Cooper and Humpty Dumpty.

By this point we are late and I try to make myself as presentable as possible. Abby has zero interest in being helpful as I try to get her socks and shoes on, saying that she does not want to go to the babysitter, she wants to stay home. When we get in the car she screams and acts like her car seat harness is too tight. She whines about not having her Moana doll for the next fifteen blocks as we drive to daycare. When we arrive she complains that we are at daycare and tells me I am mean. We go inside and she immediately runs to the babysitter for hugs and wants nothing to do with me. That feels great; woohoo, I feel like Mom of the Year.

I get to my office almost twenty minutes late. In less than an hour three different people ask me if I am feeling OK today, so I must look like a hot mess.

What else can go wrong today?