My boys are very helpful, griping only occasionally when I pull them into projects. We cultivate this helping attitude, focusing on the “Why everyone helps” from an early age. Why should children help out, especially around the Holidays? Because it:
- Teaches responsibility and job skills.
- Teaches self worth, when you explain and then illustrate that each member of a family, just like every person in the world, has skills and talents to contribute and that their efforts are needed and appreciated.
- Offers opportunities to share traditions, and instill a love for the spirit and details of the Holidays.
- Gives a glimpse of the spiritual side of tending our homes, and breaks down gender roles.
- Helps get things done while having fun!
A long-ago co-worker got frustrated when her young children would try to “help” because we moms can do stuff better and quicker than little hands. However, we’re not raising children, we are raising future adults. If we don’t let kids help when they offer, they will stop offering! So say Yes! when they offer, and if they don’t, show them what needs done. Either way, be specific with your request, show them how to complete a task, and then let them!
When assigning tasks, know limitations but stretch your children’s abilities. Even the littlest hands can help. Find out what they like or don’t like to do. Imagine for a moment how you can enlist aid from your family this week. Here are some tasks my boys will complete:
- Baking Help: chop nuts, unwrap candies for recipes, add ingredients
- Sous chef duties: clean and cut fruit and vegetable, shred cheese, make lunches for rest of family
- Move and unpack boxes of decorations
- Keep younger siblings busy
- Assemble Christmas card mailings by filling envelopes, applying return address labels and stamps
- Wrap gifts
- Help Santa with other duties, appropriate for older children
- Help with guests and parties: At two recent events, the boys set the table, took beverage orders, arranged extra seating, “plated” food for serving, took coats and welcomed guests. They swelled with joy and pride when their efforts were appreciated!
Rest assured, we will also relax. My boys have visions of sugarplum or something dancing in their heads. The teenager can’t wait to sleep in for 2 weeks, and I think the tween is imagining 14 days of alternating Wii play and TV. The little guy? He just wants to play with his toys and have friends over (he asks daily, and I typically have to say “not today”). Let me assure you, and them, that much of what they are dreaming of will indeed happen. We’ve just got a few things to take care of, and they will be helping me!
Make your efforts more meaningful for you and your elves this week! Merry Christmas to all!
This is part of the Dec. 21 edition of Colleen CPO's Blog.