As part of my never ending quest to be a better daddy I have determined that it is time that my baby has chores to do. I just think that he has been living for free for far too long. He needs to earn his keep just like the rest of us.
No, I don’t actually expect him to work. I am really only kidding around. I just think that it is high time that I starts allowing him to help me put his toys away when he is finished playing with them. Eventually, we will add more jobs as he gets older, but for now I just think that it is important to have some minimal expectations of him to get him in the habit of having to do things he doesn’t necessarily want to do. That, and why wouldn't I let him help if he wants to anyway?
Speaking of expectations, I am aware that my little man is only a year old. I also know that most people don’t expect anything from their toddlers, but I am also fully aware that most people do not have any expectations of their teenagers anymore either. That just doesn’t seem right to me. Therefore, I am going to start fighting this growing tendency in U.S. culture early. This afternoon while I am picking up the toys before the wife comes home I am going to encourage the little man to help me even if it takes a lot longer.
I am firmly convinced that allowing him to help out will be good for him and that he will enjoy it. The time we spend picking up the toys will give us a little different bonding experience to enjoy and experiment with. It will be like I am treating him like a big boy. Plus, what 1 year old doesn’t like to help his/her parents. It makes them feel important and encourages them to be a little more independent. Is that such a bad thing?
I think that I can make picking up with me fun too. It could be turned into a wicked fun game. How great would that be? Imagine if I succeeded in making cleaning up as fun as making the mess in the first place. It would be a phenomenal achievement; possibly my crowning glory of fatherhood! But, more importantly, it would help me avoid all the tantrums and crying fits that I know 4,5 and 6 year olds have when they have to pick up after themselves. Well, I shouldn’t say that all 4-6 year olds act like that, just the ones that I hang out with on a normal basis.
What amazes me is that last week when I asked the little girl I babysit to clean up her bread crumbs after lunch she started crying while my little boy ran to get the broom. My little mighty mite actually swept up her mess! How cute is that? Then I thought, “How ashamed would I be if a 1 year old cleaned up after my lunch mess?” Apparently, at 6 years old little girls are incapable of being shamed or at least this little girl is.
Her reaction to being asked to clean up after herself is the main reason that I am going to start asking my one year old to help clean up after himself too. Like I said before, it isn’t like I really have to ask because right now he really enjoys helping us, and I don't really expect him to be that much of a help. I just want him to get used to the idea of having expectations of him. It's fine if he's a hindrance at this point. I think that is really great that now he will grab the broom and sweep the kitchen off and on all day. I love that he screams and dances when I vacuum and he helps me push it around. The little man even tries to re-stack his books after they fall down.
All I have to do is keep encouraging him to help. It doesn’t matter that it takes forever to actually pick anything up or clean anything. That’s not the point. The point is to get him to help out and not make it such a chore for him. Later on, I will work on efficiency, but for now it is sufficient just to have him try.