Friday, October 09, 2009

getting practical

I've been trying to involve Donovan more in little chores around the house both to help me get them accomplished, and to get him involved in our household and into the habit of helping out.  About a month ago I experimented with letting him help unloading the dishwasher.  He's helped with it about 3-4 times since then, and we've only broken one bowl so far.  ; )  Here's a video of D helping Zach with the dishes:

Another thing I've let him help with is feeding the cats.  He's extremely interested in the cat's food, so I figured I'd give him an acceptable way to get to "play" with it instead of yelling at him to leave it alone.  We keep a small measuring cup in a tupperware container with the extra food, and D gets to scoop out some food and put it in the cats' food bowls.  We end up with half the food on the floor, but he then also helps pick it up and doesn't complain too much when the bowls are full and it's time to put the food away.  He gets a kick out of helping with this (especially since Nev usually comes tearing into the room as soon as he opens the food container), and amazingly has stuck to not playing with their food otherwise.  I might look for a different tool for scooping out the food as it's a little tough for him to dig the cup in well enough to get much in it, but he also doesn't seem frustrated by it so might be fine as it is.

He's been showing more interest in helping get himself un/dressed, helping pull his pants up and down by the waistband, stepping into/and out of the leg holes, and getting his arms in and out of the sleeves.  It's really cool how all of a sudden one day he'll be able to do something, or want to, that he wasn't able to before, like a few days ago when I was getting him ready for his bath and he figured out he could pull his pants down (well, with some help) and then he kept pulling them up, then down, then up, then down, just thrilled with himself for his new discovery.

With cold and flu season approaching, I'm realizing how bad I am at washing D's hands when we get home or before eating, so have been trying to figure out how to set something up to make it easier.  Holding him up to the kitchen sink, and helping him wash his hands at the same time, just doesn't cut it.  Neither do most of the foot stools made for kids, as apparently those aren't meant for kids younger than, say, 5 (way too short to reach anything).  I thought about finding a surface where I could set out 2 bowls, one with soapy water and one with clean water, to wash his hands in, but couldn't figure out where to do that.  What I've finally settled on, is to just take his high chair and push it over to the sink when he needs to wash his hands.  He can use the footrest to climb up and stand on the seat, and reach the kitchen sink well enough to wash his hands (and my own hands are free to help him), and then when he's done I take it back to the table.  If anyone else has other ideas for a more efficient way to do this, I'd love to hear them!

One last story-- yesterday afternoon I washed a load of laundry and decided to air-dry it instead of using the dryer.  D was playing out on the patio, so I invited him to help me hang up the clothes.  The load included a lot of his bibs and washcloths, so I took one or 2 and showed him how to hang them on the lowest shelf of our drying rack (which is at his level).  I then starting hanging the rest of the clothes up higher.  He kinda got the gist of it...  as in he started taking handfuls of the wet clothes and putting them in a single pile on the rack.  He kept this up till there were no more clothes left in the basket... and then he proceeded to take the pile from the rack, and put them back in the basket.  He even started taking clothes I'd already hung and trying to put them back.  And then he did it all again, repeating the whole cycle of basket-to-rack-to-basket about 3 times.    In a way it was annoying to see him undoing all the work and even dropping a bunch of the stuff on the dirty ground, but it was also pretty darn funny.  And, also very cool to see the classic "cycle of activity" that's so often talked about in Montessori, where kids will do something over and over again with the motivation of simply doing, rather than how we as adults do things in order to get them done.  He eventually got tired of the laundry and went off to play with something else, letting me hang the rest of the stuff up properly.  So, trying to do chores with him takes a good bit longer than if I did them myself... but it's pretty fun to watch him get involved and how excited he is to help.  He may be no Edison, but I'm ok with that, and it's just so incredibly cool to see him do these things and usually surprise me with how well he does them.


  1. I would be worried that letting him climb on/stand in his high chair might encourage him to, well, climb on/stand in his high chair. He might try to do it when you're not paying attention and hurt himself. What about using a small step ladder? We have one that has three steps on it and comes up to about mid-thigh. Something like that might allow him to reach the sink without teaching him to climb on things not safe to be climbed.

  2. He was looking for a more efficient way to dry the clothes. Just putting them on the rack isn't going to do much, he was moving them to and from to expose them to more air.

    He's ahead of his time, I tell ya. You just don't understand his genius.

    (PS: about unloading the dishwasher: do you and Zach use both hands when taking the plates out? At least when D's watching?)

  3. Anonymous6:16 PM

    I loved watching my kids grown and hone their skills that way. By three, my daughter would fold and put away almost all of her clothes. What I wasn't prepared for however, was the sudden backslide around age 8. Conveniently she seemed to forget how, seemingly overnight...

  4. my neighbor has these really great step stools that are much higher than traditioanl ones- not sure where they are from. I can find out for you- might be high enough for a bathroom sink.



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