Earn Your Keep

How early is too early to start introducing responsibility?

In our house when you can talk back, you can have responsibilities.
Ain’t no sass gonna get a pass, here.
Now, we’re no back-breakers, but we do have expectations.
Bubba has chores to put it lightly. In fact, so lightly that I can count them. On two fingers. Two. See what we did there, 2 years-old, 2 chores. Not sure if it was intentional on our part, but it works.
Bubba’s chores are as follows: feed the dog each morning & put his toys away before nap/bed.
I know, we live on the edge over here in GummieLand.

20160817_111103Now it was easy to incorporate the dog-feeding chore as Bubba loved to watch us feed him. Now all we have to say is “Bubba, time to feed the dog. Want to scoop?” and he comes running, so does the dog. There have been a couple of times that Bubba decided he was too busy to take care of feeding the dog. I don’t think so, sir. So, we had a look-here-Buddy-chat and he reluctantly came to help. Usually, he’s happy to ‘coop it and insists on scooping the food, closing the container and then not-so-gently-shoving the bowl into the correct place. My favorite part is when he looks at the dog and goes “Dere ya go!” Which makes me wonder if that’s what we say when we put his plates in front of him. I’ll have to pay special attention during the next meal to see where he gets that.20160817_111132
Then, there’s the second chore.
Oh, how I loathe thee, trains & blocks.
By the time nap rolls around, as you’ve seen previously, our family room looks like the toy corner threw up, got picked up by a tornado and tossed again. Ugh. When this happens, daily, I usually have him choose one section of toys to clean because frankly, it overwhelms me. I can’t imagine how his little brain can handle it. So we go with “Okay, time to pick up the blocks.” Or “Trains in the box, move it move it!”
I remember specifically when we started this responsibility. We had those big, fun, don’t fit anywhere in the house but he has to play with them cardboard blocks. You know, the ones you can build a whole playhouse out of. Yup. Those. We kept them in a lovely and decorative black trash bag. Safe, right? He would beg us to dump them, play with them forever and then kick them to every corner of the room because they made a fun sound. Who am I to get in the way of his play? We’d have to clean it up anyway, regardless of their final destination on the first floor.  Well, the cleanup of those lovely blocks was the sole reason for late naptimes for about a week. He’d stand and absolutely refuse to pick up a single block.
Old Western Standoff, commence!
This often ended with us helping him to pick the blocks up and place them in the bag. I know you’ve done the move, I’ll call it the puppet. You take his hands and guide them to pick up a single block, penguin walk over to the bag and clumsily drop it in. We’d do this 3 or 4 times before he’d get annoyed at our slow pace and simply do it himself. We then learned a tactic that has made the clean-up-chore much easier. We, apparently, have a competitive son. Therefore, if we create a race or a game and he thinks he’s going to ‘lose’ up goes the productivity. Add a song and you’re golden. I think that big purple Barney dinosaur was on to something. Note: This competitive tactic also works with food. “That’s okay, Mommy will eat it first.” Usually gets at least a few bites of food in before the jig is up. So now we “race” to clean up the toys before nap and it goes much more quickly and effectively with less fuss.
Win, win, win!
Yet, I can see the writing on the wall. He’s smart. Smart enough to know that the longer he takes to clean up, get up the stairs and take care of his pre-nap routine, the more time he has before nap.
We’re in trouble.
Guess we’ll have to come up with a new responsibility soon. Any thoughts?

Be Great,

4 thoughts on “Earn Your Keep

  1. Seems like you’ve come up with an important responsibility for your son, feeding the dog and it seems he enjoys it. Making the cleanup into a game seems like a great idea, too. Perhaps, next could be helping to bring the desert or desert utensils (or something else he likes) to the dining table.

  2. I agree with Molly and Ron- great ideas you already have, and kudos to you for starting early on. I think this concept is a great way to get kids on board with “helping out”. Keep up the good work!

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