Bunnies in training

Lamb decides he can do more than ride his bike.

I’m constantly amazed how easy it is for the kids (minus 3 month old Piglet, of course) to embrace household chores wholeheartedly. It doesn’t require much brainwashing. Really.

This happened to my clean laundry some weeks ago.  I don’t know who folded the stuff, but I was putting Piglet down for his nap while Puppy and Lamb were downstairs. Playing, presumably. Or so I thought.

Montessori kindergartens have a subject they call “Practical Life Skills”. I can hardly see myself as a Montessori teacher, but it does seem reasonable to encourage young children to dignify themselves with self-discipline. Apart from learning how to dress themselves and toilet training, I’ve noticed that Puppy and even Lamb (at 2 years 6 months) can and eagerly do the following, independently:

1)   Arrange cuddly toys nicely on the bed every morning.

2)   Put own clothes and towel away after a bath.

3)   Get own drinking water from a safe, accessible source.

4)   Get own cutlery.

5)   Ask if they may be excused from the table after meals. (Simply getting up and running off is not on!)

6)   Take own plate and cup to the sink after meals.

7)   Put toys away in their proper places after play time.

8)   Put books back on the shelves after reading.

9)   Fold clothes, if they like.

10) Sweep the porch, if they like.

11) Any other household job that won’t hurt or maim them, if they like.

They have needed positive daily reminders, of course. It’s a work in progress. There is no reward offered. Just verbal affirmation and praise.

Two weeks ago, I was upstairs changing Piglet’s diaper and came down to find all the tables, chairs and bookshelves slightly wet. Puppy and Lamb were running around with very wet rags wiping every surface in sight. Thanks, my dears, but you really don’t need to wipe the chair legs…

It’s all very amusing. Puppy says I won’t need hired help at all until my dying day. Because she, Puppy and Piglet (when he grows up) will be my maids. Whoopee.

Yes, go on. Wicked, isn’t it?

Related posts: 10 steps to create a chore chart system for kids; Encouraging autonomy in toddlers through kitchen play


  • Ray’s Homeschool
    April 12, 2011 7:16 pm

    So the cleaning fairies really do exist!! (Even if it involves really wet tables and chair legs, lol) Please share how you managed to motivate your little ones so well! I want my children to enjoy housework. Maybe it’s partially for selfish reasons, but also because they will be adults one day who don’t have a choice – they might as well enjoy it!

  • Mama J
    April 13, 2011 4:50 pm

    Yes, they exist indeed. Except they sometimes morphe into messy trolls and require affirmative action to transform back again! 🙂 I don’t know how long they’ll enjoy it, though, but I do hope their enthusiasm lasts. I think it’s a lot about fostering intrinsic motivation and passing on the message that housework is good work. Hopefully I can find some time to write about it.

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