How this stay-at-home mum stays sane and has fun one day at a time.

How do we feel about child labour?

When you’re a stay-at-home mum, unfortunately you sometimes have to stay at home. I like the mumming part, but the staying at home part, not so much, partly because it’s harder to entertain a Toddlersaurus Rex at home but mainly because home is always a MESS. Home is where the heart is? Pfft, home is where the pile of unfolded washing is.

Such a damn shame that when I look around my chaotic abode, I realise I’m the only fool that’s going to clean it up. I pity the fool! So when I stumbled across this handy chart promoting the use of children as itty bitty slaves, I thought oooooh yes, I could get on board with this. I will see if I can lighten my mountainous workload with the Toddler section and my test subject Henry.


Pick up/put away toys
I know mums who have successfully taught toddlers they’re not allowed to start a new game until the old one’s packed away. I idolised these mums, for in our house I’m not even close to such an amazing breakthrough. I’ve approached the subject with Henry but have always received a quizzical look – think Dan Carter when he’s converting a try – normally right before a giant bucket of Duplo is upended on the floor.

So the other day, with this list in mind, I told him he needed to clear up the Duplo before having a ‘mooly bar’ (Fruit Sticks, which are like crack to my kid). He did it and I was speechless. Then he did a remarkable thing: he kept on going. Other toys were put away. Books were returned to his bedroom. Annie’s toys were added to her special box in the living room. Puzzle pieces were put in the puzzles. It was amazing! It hasn’t happened again yet, but I have high hopes.

Unload the dishwasher
I’ll do this myself, thus ensuring he doesn’t touch giant knives, wine glasses, the sharp part of the stick blender or dinnerware we were given as a wedding gift, which I’d prefer to keep in 16 pieces, not hundreds.

Dust with feather duster
Well I do this about once a year to be honest, so I’d be hypocritical to make him do it.

Swiffer the floor
I had to Google this. It’s a mop of sorts. I had a vision of broken windows, pools of water and my little slave slipping over and hurting himself. Then he wouldn’t be able to help with any of the chores, so this is a no go.

Put clothes in the dirty clothes hamper/Collect dirty clothes
Yes! Success. He’s already better at this than his dad, who is actually physically incapable of completing this task, leading me to wonder if we need to do a DNA test to make sure they’re related.

Help move clothes from washer to dryer
Ever since I almost cooked a new pair of Havaianas, I have discouraged him from putting anything in the dryer.

Put clothes away
Yes, because the clothes never get put away. Normally they live in a ‘neat’ pile on our bedroom floor and we end up wearing half of them before they find a drawer to call home. I only notice the pile has become a problem when H jumps off the bed into it and doesn’t hurt himself.

Make bed
Maybe, but I normally remove a few diggers, a couple of tractors, half the children’s books ever published and 20 soft toys from his bed before I make it, so he’d have to master that first task before moving on to this one.

Wipe cabinets/baseboards
Well wouldn’t this be lovely considering 100% of the grubby little finger marks on every available surface of the house belong to my son.

And that’s the list. So what do you think of getting toddlers to help around the house? What works and what doesn’t? Have you had any special successes I should know about? And if your kid’s so great at helping out, can I borrow them for a few hours?


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