My name is Lisa Ng ("ing") and I write expandng.com (currently on a blogging-hiatus while moving from Blogger to WordPress). I am a working mom to a 2-yr-old named "J" and two Bichons named Coco and Jasper. My husband of 4 years and I raise our family in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Today, I'd like to write about teaching our 2-yr-old age-appropriate responsibility since it's something we've recently been doing more of. I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas we can implement!
Our daycare calls them "life skills". They are the skills that we as adults perform (mostly) without a second thought -- getting dressed, brushing our teeth, putting on our shoes, getting in and out of the car, cleaning up, bathing, etc. Up until the last few months, we'd do all these things for our son. It certainly is faster that way! If you've ever waited for a toddler to do anything, you know what I mean! But what we forgot was that we needed to teach these life skills to him. He's certainly not going to do them unprompted. So here are three responsibilities, or skills, that we've been emphasizing in our home:
#1 Cleaning up
If it were up to our son, he'd play with each toy in the toy box without putting it back. He'd leave toys around the house. We'd be stubbing our feet on toys all day long. We've found that our son responds much better to "help us clean up" rather than being told to do it himself. We've also extended cleaning up to carrying cups and plates to the sink after a meal/snack. These are light objects and won't break our heart if dropped on the floor.
What cleaning tasks do your kids like to help with?
#2 Running errands
We used to reserve the time after our son went to bed for grocery shopping. On these nights, one of us would head to the store around 8:30/9:00p. Sometimes, I'd even go to the gym first, then head to the store afterwards around 10:00p. Needless to say, it was tiring. But I chose to do it this way because I wanted to avoid having to entertain our son while shopping, making sure he didn't throw a tantrum. Recently, my very-wise husband reminded me that we need to teach him how to behave in public, and the only way to do that is to bring him to public places.
So, we all went to the grocery store during waking hours. The first time was on a Sunday, which is probably one of the busiest days for the grocery store. The store had little "customer in training" shopping carts. I told my husband that he'd be responsible entertaining him, and also dealing with any tantrum over the cart. My son loves to push strollers, boxes, carts, etc. I didn't think it'd be easy for him to say goodbye to it.
That first day, there was a crying scene in the parking lot when it was time to put the cart away. But, the second time, a little less. And the third time, a little less. I now look forward to our shopping trip as much as our son does! He's learning to navigate the aisles without hitting people, he's learning to be patient as we look for groceries, he's learning that there's a time to wait in line, put our groceries on the belt, pay for them, load the car, and leave the shopping cart at the grocery store.
What errands do you enjoy running with your kids?
#3 Caring for others
Walking one dog is easier than walking two. Walking two dogs is easier than walking two dogs with a toddler. But one morning after breakfast, I just took them all out for a walk. My dogs aren't good loose leash walkers, i.e., they tend to pull on the leash, but the first time we went out, they were surprisingly calm. I held both leashes and let my son hold the end of one leash. He loved walking behind the dog and watching the dog sniff and mark. Our son learned to wait patiently as one dog stopped to do doggy things. Letting our son hold a leash also reaffirms to the dogs that our son is not a pack member but a pack leader. That's Dog Whisperer talk ;). When our son is older, we hope he feels responsible for the dogs and that the dogs are also his.
Do your kids help care for household pets? How about siblings?
Hope you've enjoyed reading how we're teaching our 2-yr-old son age-appropriate responsibilities. I'd love to hear your thoughts and also suggestions for more responsibilities! If you'd like what you've read, please stop by expandng.com, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram (@lisacng). Thanks again for reading! And thanks to Yvonne for the opportunity to guest post!
Thank you so much Lisa for sharing your parenting tips! I am all about teaching your kids early on responsibilities and cleaning up after yourself. It would make your life less stressful! :) We are now just figuring the whole potty training at the moment and after that, cleaning up!