This post was originally published by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.If there is one thing that is a constant as a parent it is that there is always something that needs to be done.  Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, bedtime, laundry, trips to the grocery store, cooking, cleaning, dealing with a meltdown, cooking or cleaning, it seems like the to-do list never ends.  In my family, I know my wife feels like she never can leave the kitchen.  In my short time before and after work during the week with the kids I feel like I lose count of the amount of requests for food or the amount of times I pick up the same toys off the floor.  It can be easy to get bogged down with the drudgery of the same routine day after day.

One way that we try to combat this and encourage the kids to learn some early responsibility is engage them in helping with these tasks.  We’re not talking about child labor here, but we definitely make sure our kids know how to clean up after themselves and have their own chores around the house we ask them to assist us with.  Our son often helps me take out the garbage and recycling, racing me back to the house on the way back from the dumpster.  He also helps us put away the dishes by sorting the silverware and sometimes helping to pull out plates and cups.  My daughter has a very natural sweetness and helpfulness about her.  She will toddle over to the dryer and help us pull clothes out and put them in the laundry basket.  Occasionally she makes off with a sock or two or a pair of underwear and carries it around the house, but going with the flow and smiling when they do something funny encourages them that what they’re doing is helpful and hopefully inspires them to keep helping again and again.  The other day my daughter pulled all of the wipes out of her diaper changing station and proceeded to help us “mop” the floor.

When you have little hands helping with chores, you know that it may take a little bit longer or not necessarily get done “the right way”.  But, the feeling of pride that you get when you see them naturally wanting to help out and the sometimes hilarious methods they use to accomplish these tasks breaks up the drudgery nicely and helps them build some essential life skills.

This is fatherhood…