I recently joined a boot camp which meets at the crack of dawn at Cornwall Park. Honestly guys, we’re squatting before the sun even comes up! The first time I drove home from the sweat-sesh, I went into mild panic mode when I realised I had almost no time to get the kids out the door for kindy.
It was pretty obvious from the madness that morning that I’d have to be more organised if I wanted to keep lunging like a loon twice a week. Luckily, three-year-old Henry had taken a real shine to being more independent, so my plan just needed to maximise his love for DIY.
I started small, with a star chart which celebrated him dressing himself each morning. The first prize was a trip to KiwiYo (or “the place where you put the lollies on the ice cream” as he puts it). He embraced this goal like only a kid being bribed by ice cream can and before I knew it he was choosing his own clothes, getting dressed, and putting his PJs back in his drawers.
Annie is a little sheep and copied her big brother. She started bringing out a nappy and a selection of wildly inappropriate clothes. I realised that I was staring down the barrel of the biggest win-win ever. If the kids started getting a kick out of doing things for themselves, it would take the load off me and we’d all be gloriously happy.
I want you to be happy too, so here are some tips, just in case you haven’t thought of them yourself yet. I’d love to hear some tips from you on promoting independence too – share away in the comments section.
Well organised drawers will take away the guesswork when kids are learning how to pick their own clothes. We have a “kindy” drawer with shirts on one side and shorts on the other. I have written KINDY on it so Henry can find the “one with the K’. For Annie my plan is a little simpler, pictures to indicate the t-shirt drawer, shorts drawer etc.
The “But First” Approach
I’ve majorly minimised the “floor junk” by using every opportunity to have the kids put something away. Every time they ask me for something I say “Sure, but first… pick up that book, put your shoes in the cupboard, take those puzzles back to your room”. It works a treat. I also use fun things we’re already doing as a bribe for getting areas clean. “Clear up the lounge floor and we’ll go to the playground”. “If you can put away all the toys in your room, you can have a muesli bar”.
I’ve found lots of helpful hints online for saving time in the kitchen by encouraging kids to do simple tasks. I have rearranged our cupboards and drawers so their plastic plates and cups are now at their level. I want them to help set the table and make their snacks. I’m going to teach them how to grab themselves a cup of water and put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher.
Five Plus A Day
My two ask me for snacks all day long and it can drive a mumma crazy. Most of the time they get fruit, so I’ve rearranged the fridge, putting the fruit on the bottom shelf. I might even attempt to teach Henry how to open his own banana!
Spray n’ Wipe
Both my babies go nuts when I get out the Spray n’ Wipe. There’s just something about a spray bottle they find really exciting. So I set them up with a cleaning caddy. They have their own spray bottles, scrubbing brushes, cloths and little dustpan sets.
My kids let me brush their teeth for a split second before snatching the toothbrush off me and doing a seriously half-arsed effort of brushing. I found a tip online where you use a model like the one pictured above, to show kids that there are teeth way back which really need brushing. It has worked wonders for Henry and we’re working on Annie.
You know back in the day when people had to ration their hot water and they only bathed once a month? I swear those people would have still been cleaner than my kids, who think bath time is a little like going to war. There’s always fighting, flooding and screaming and often we haul them out of the water and into hooded towels before they’re thoroughly cleaned. So my plan is to buy some fun colourful sponges and make a model of the parts of the body that need cleaning. Hopefully this will make them want to have a good scrub in the tub!