Parenting Thursday: How to Relax while Being Creative with Your Child: The Chores
Creativity in parenting is a valuable tool. You can use it in many ways, from storytelling to arts and crafts. Only your imagination is the limit, really. Being creative with your child is an excellent opportunity to bond with them, inspire their creative endeavours, and… relax! The latter may sound surprising, but resting while having fun with your offspring is possible!
In this series of blog posts, I will write about various ways you can relax and be creative with your children.
This week: The Chores
As a child, I had a set of chores to do. One of them was to wash the staircase. It was not an overly exciting job, but I turned it into quite a fun activity. I imagined I was a magical beautician, and I painted a Giant Queen’s nails. Washing a bathtub? I was a pirate scrubbing the deck. Doing the dishes? I was a scientist cleaning the probes.
I was grateful for my imagination.
Being a parent, I am grateful for my imagination.
My son is only two years old, but it is crucial to teach him those two things from a young age: taking care of his environment and being a part of a team that works together so everyone’s needs are met.
Since he was a baby, he has been included in house jobs – age- and ability-appropriate with safety considerations. He would be in a sling while I was washing the floor. I would narrate that we were cleaning a dancefloor for a ball, for example. I would always tidy his toys with him being present, modelling what I would expect of him in the future.
Now, he is more than capable of doing certain things himself, so he actively takes part in some chores. I explain to him that if we all do it together, we do it quicker, and we all can enjoy things we want to do later on. We clear his toys together; we all have a job: E. puts his cars into a toy basket, I put a play tunnel away, and Daddy takes dirty cups to the kitchen, for example. Sometimes we all put the building blocks into a bag, competing on who puts more in.
Is it always easy, and he does it all without kicking off? No.
Then the imagination comes in handy. It helps turn a stressful situation into a fun activity and makes the whole chore business done quicker so everyone can relax more. I will not lie; it takes much time and hard work to reach that point, though. Sometimes, I fail and use some other well-known parental methods. But then I try the imagination approach again. Because it is worth it.
So what do I do?
When there is resistance to putting his toys away before bedtime, I pretend to be his toys and use funny voices, saying: “Oh, E. can you help us, please? We want to go to sleep! But we can’t get to our bed ourselves! We are so scared and so sad! Can you put us in our basket so we can have a nice sleep?”
Before dinner time, I would say: “We want our dindins! But it is in our basket. Can you help us?”
As we house-share with my in-laws at the moment, I also make a point that we need to clear the floor so Nannie and Gramphy can join us. Gamphy is in a wheelchair and needs space to enter our room. Sometimes it is enough (it is also a great learning opportunity, as E. learns the respect and the need to look after our environment so it is friendly for all of us.), but if it’s not, the toys would “shout”: “Oh no! The wheelchair monster! Quick, put us away before he eats us up!” And that usually works.
I never stop him if he takes a broom and pretends to sweep the floor, wants to carry a wrapper in the bin or joins in the raking the leaves in the garden. We all always point out how great it is to be a part of a team and what a valuable member of our team he is! I also invite him to cook with me by setting up his cooking station where he can experiment with pans, spoons and dry ingredients.
I am also preparing the ground for the bigger chores in the future, like doing his own washing and loading up the dishwasher.
So what do we do?
We feed the Washing Machine Monster, who loves drinking tea from dirty clothes and washing liquid. We prepare a delicious meal for her by loading the clothes into her big mouth and pouring washing liquid into a feeding compartment. E. puts some of his clothes in, too, and then he has a special job of pressing the buttons (supervised, of course).
Then we need to feed Susharcosaur (Suszarka – a Polish word for tumble dryer), who loves the wet clothes that the Washing Machine Monster sucked the dirt off. E. can press the buttons here, too.
When we unload the dishwasher, E. can put some plastic dishes away, pretending they got lost and must find their way back to their cupboards.
We go shopping together – an expedition to hunt for some food in the supermarket jungle. He loves pushing his little trolley and finding out things.
I sometimes make up some ridiculous stories as we go. It helps with my frustration when there is a refusal to do a chore. It helps me regulate my own emotions and get a bit of perspective. I am modelling what to do with some big feelings. It usually makes E. smile and encourages him to take part. We practise our story-making and exercise imagination and creativity.
It is also important that we do it together as a bonding activity. In a busy life, it can be a great way to have some fun together. It also encourages community spirit and teaches that everyone’s needs are important, and if we all work together, we do things quicker and have time for either more family time or individual hobbies. Doing chores also teaches responsibility and gives a child skills needed to succeed as an adult later on in life – letting them be self-sufficient and independent. Making it fun is showing them that it is our choice if we treat something as an unbearable burden or that we have some control over it.
It is working for us now.
Will it work when E. is older?
I don’t know.
I know it works with children up to 7 years old (I used to work in a primary school).
Later, I will have to find other ways, most likely. But I hope he will have a positive association with chores. I want him to see them as a fun family activity – a time for bonding and laughter while doing something that needs to be done. In a busy life, it can be a great way to have some fun together. Maybe sometimes, even the only time. Doing chores together also encourages community spirit and teaches that everyone’s needs are important, and if we all work together, we do things quicker and have time for either more family time or individual hobbies. Doing chores also teaches responsibility and gives a child skills needed to succeed as an adult later on in life – letting them be self-sufficient and independent. Making it fun is showing them that it is our choice if we treat something as an unbearable burden or that we have some control over it.
I am looking forward to finding out if it works when E. is older and letting you know.
Meanwhile, I encourage you to invite imagination into the chores.
|How can you do that?|
🪄 Turn washing machine, tumble dryer, and toy baskets into monsters that need feeding,
🪄 Turn a hoover into a hungry pet dinosaur,
🪄 What is the floor being washed for? The ball? The pirate ship? The visit of the King?
🪄 Imagine you are explorers on a quest to find lost toys, food, missing socks, etc.
🪄 Make a garden for fairies.
Enjoy, and let yourself be creative!