The 5 Inevitable Stages Of Letting Kids Help

by Sarah Cottrell
Originally Published: 

My kids are whirling dervishes of wild imagination and energy. The only time that dirt, noise, and chaos is not following them close by is when they are asleep, which is why I hate it when they want to help me around the house. Those sweet little voices pitched high with good intent will ask to lend a tiny hand to my chores and I inevitably say, ‘yes’ and live to regret it.

It’s not that I am a micromanaging psycho – although a simple task like sweeping will certainly bring that out in me – it’s just that every time the kids are involved there are five distinct stages of chaos that unfurl.

Stage One – Unrealistic Expectations

I blame the media for this one. When the kids want to help with the cooking or the cleaning I always have visions of happy little tykes getting a simple task done with sparkling attitudes and the ability to take direction well. And every single time we get started – or sometimes even before we get started – things take a sharp left and I’m no longer leading an eager group of helpful kids, but rather ducking for cover and trying not to scream.

Stage Two – OMG The Mess

How on earth do children make SUCH MESSES? The ingredients for chocolate chip cookies called for 1 ½ cups of flour, but I’m looking around my kitchen and I’m telling you there is at least a pound of flour dusting every inch of surface. I just stepped on an eggshell; my preschooler is using the spatula to scratch his head and now has gobs of sticky dough all down the side of his face. Heaven help me.

Stage Three – Nagging

You want something done right then you have to lead with clear directions. Unfortunately, directions such as keep the broom on the floor and walk slowly so you don’t whack anything gets reinterpreted through a child’s ears to mean, “Mom said it is OK to use the broom as a Kung Fu stick and now I have to run through the house attacking imaginary villains!” This is how my living room window broke.

Stage Four – Fighting

One kid wanted to push the grocery cart so then the other kid wanted to do that too. One kid wanted to use the wooden spoon to mix the cake batter and so the other kid freaked out and cried. One kid refused to help get the laundry until he saw his brother throwing socks down the stairs and now they both want to throw ALL THE THINGS down the stairs.

Stage Five – Post Apocalyptic Clean Up

The final stage of letting kids help generally involves finding a distraction like a movie or threats for a 100-year time out to get the kids out of my hair long enough for me to clean. I wrangle the kids, then put my husband in charge of them and I take my slow ass time cleaning. Why? Because doing the dishes should take me 2 hours so that I can have some peace and quiet!

People tell me all the time that I will be so happy when the day comes when my kids can make their own lunch or do their own laundry. After the brand of crazy that my children unleash in this house I will believe it when I see it.

In the meantime, I’m updating the warrantees on my appliances.

Related post: 8 Chores You Should Pawn Off on Your Kids

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