Monday, November 14, 2011

finding meaningful work for little hands

Sometimes I catch myself trying to "get it all done" while the little ones are napping and then stop and question myself- why rush through it all? Take time. Breathe In. Take care. Breathe Out. If I treat these duties like a race I will quickly grow tired of it all for we all know laundry, and growing lawns and dishes are never really finished.

Instead, let us share these tasks together and rediscover the joy and rhythm in them. The children naturally follow me as I go from task to task. Sometimes they are looking for something to do so I create a job to keep their hands busy, other times they are happy to just be close to me immersed in their own imaginative games and play.

Here is a list of some examples of 'meaningful work' for toddlers and young children anywhere between the ages of 1 and 7 (and beyond).

In the garden
Raking the leaves
Mowing the lawn (we got the lawnmower at a garage sale)
Planting seeds
Picking vegetables
Watering the garden

Play ironing
Folding doll clothes
Sweeping and mopping
Using the dustpan
Putting rubbish in the bin
Passing the pegs to you to hang the clothes
Taking turns with the vacuum
Sprinkling bi-carb and the bathtub and giving it a scrub (a favourite around here)
Waxing wooden furniture and toys
Spraying and wiping windows and mirrors (white vinegar and water spray bottle)
In the Kitchen
Setting the table
Washing the dishes
Cutting soft vegetables and fruits with a dull knife
Spinning salad
Making muffins
Kneading dough
Rolling out pizza dough
Putting pizza toppings on the dough
Grating cheese
Husking corn
Shelling peas
Peeling and/or grating carrots
Peeling potatoes

They take such pride in this work. So often children feel small and ill-equipped to help themselves to do the things that they desire. These little tasks give them a sense of being helpful and useful. They find joy in the rhythm of doing and they remind me to find joy in these little moments also.

Please do leave any other suggestions in the comments section if you have them!


Tania said...

I often stop myself rushing around at naptime by pouring myself a coffee and having a little time to myself before cleaning up. I find my little crawler loves to be moved to whatever room I'm working in and I might give her a few things to play with from that room. Kitchen utensils, cloths etc. I like your suggestions in the kitchen as I have learned from our local school kitchen garden that we can underestimate how much our little ones can do in the kitchen. They let the kindies chop up with dull knives and make and cook all the food supervised. They really enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I love your suggestions and it really does make them so much happier when they help. The photos are just great. Please be careful with the lawn mowing so close to Dad's real one though...I have seen a girl lose her eye sight in one eye after a stone hit her eye while someone was mowing. Probably a freak accident but....I had to mention it?

Jode said...

I've just come across your blog and what a lovely read! I've enjoyed reading your suggestions...i try to do the same with my twins and already they have such different personalities and likes that it is easy to find something for each one! They love it when i dump the washing on the floor and we all 'fold' it...especially their nappies, it is such a laugh to watch them try to assemble liners etc...they definately take more notice than we give credit for.
The little iron in your photo is wonderful...must try and make something similar.
Jode x

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