Wednesday evening after dinner, the girls helped me wash the dishes.
If you don’t know this already, when a child helps you do a chore, that chore will take anywhere from two to ten times longer. Accept this now, and don’t let it stop you from letting your child(ren) help you.
It took me awhile to figure this out, and it lead to some frustration on my part. I am a slow learner. But then it clicked, and I embraced it. And here’s a few reasons why.
First of all, like many other WOTHMs, I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my children. Since days have grown shorter, my children have started going to bed earlier. I pick them up at the day school at 5 p.m. (or later), and they hit the hay around 8 p.m. That is a scant 3 hours, and that time is filled with feeding, cleaning up after, and bathing them. If they are “helping” me, it’s not a chore, it’s quality time together.
Second, it’s less time they spend in front of the television.
Third, it teaches them responsibility. (You probably already figured this out.) Meals have to be cooked, dishes have to be cleaned (and dried and put away), clothes have to be laundered.
Fourth, it’s fun! Watching Kate intently wash the same spoon for 15 minutes was hysterical. Flora spent a lot of time washing one of my travel mugs: she would put some water in it, submerge the sponge, take out the sponge, put more water in the mug, submerge the sponge again, lather, rinse, and repeat until she got to the point that submerging the sponge made the water overflow the mug. And then she would empty the mug and start over again. (She may have been learning applied physics for all I know.)
They were wholly absorbed in this “chore”, standing on kitchen chairs I had pulled over to the sink (with a towel spread underneath to catch the inevitable spilled water). In the meantime, I was getting the other dishes done, dried, and put away.
By the time we were done, Kate had probably washed three pieces of silverware (quite thoroughly); Flora had done both travel mugs and a couple pieces of tupperware; and I had taken care of all the dishes, one pot, and one pan. Also, Kate was soaked from the neck down, the chair she had been standing on was soaked, and the half of the towel under her chair was — you guessed it — soaked.
But the girls were also ridiculously pleased with themselves. I handed Flora a towel to dry the chairs (Flora, incidentally, was dry except for the very tips of her sleeves), she happily declared, “I’m going to help you every day all day.”
And that’s just fine with me.
(I would normally have just put everything in the sink until the girls were in bed, but we are still having a major issue with fruit flies. Nothing we’ve tried to date has completely solved the problem. And besides, now that I know how much fun the girls find washing the dishes, there’s no reason not to do it together!)