Luckily, both of my girls enjoy helping out around the house. It typically helps if it is their idea, but I’ll take what I can get. These little adventures with them give me multiple opportunities to introduce new concepts and expand their vocabulary. Last night, Georgia (almost 2 years old) wanted to help me do the dishes. I had to decide if I wanted to get it done quickly (that is, after her bedtime) or with a lot of assistance. I decided to follow her lead and embrace the moment.
To be honest, unloading the dishwasher makes me nervous. It is typically a mad dash to the utensils so that I can get all the knives and any other sharp objects out before she grabs them (this little girl is FAST). I usually take the utensil basket out and let her be in charge of it. She hands me the utensils, and I say the names of them as I put them away. Now that she is more familiar with the names, I will sometimes mix it up and ask her to give me all of the spoons…or the cake spatula (new vocabulary for her).
Next we move on to the breakables on the bottom shelf. While I work on these, I give her a pot or pan to attempt to put it away. Then I have to wait for her to admit that she needs help to open the cabinet door (child-proofed). This occurs after she attempts about a dozen times to open it on her own to no avail. When we move on to the top rack, she stands on her tippy toes trying desperately to grab anything, but she can only move cups and bowls around with slight jabs and pokes. She is so happy when I finally give her something to hold. She walks about 3 feet, hands it back to me so that I can put it in the cabinet, and toddles right back to the dishwasher for more. The look of pride on her face is priceless.
(We sometimes stop at this point.)
Loading the dishwasher doesn’t stress me out as much because G has to wait for me to give her items. I can decide what she gets to hold and with how much assistance. For example, I will let her help put in our breakable plates, but she has to do it WITH me. If she says, “Mo. I gah it.” (translation – “No. I got it.”) I take it away and do it later. She can do most of the silverware by herself, but I have to keep a close eye on her. Sometimes she forgets it’s dirty and decides to take a lick. Yuck!!! She really likes arranging the kid plates in the bottom rack. Of course it makes no logical sense, but I let her try. Then I suggest some changes. This gives an opportunity to talk about and show her what prepositions mean. “What if we move this plate next to the utensil basket and the cheese grater to the back corner? If we do that, we might be able to fit that big pot in this load.” After she agrees by saying “OK”, I get her to help me move things. When we are finally finished, she pushes the racks in and closes the door with a great push of satisfaction. (I do the knives, sharp items, fragile dishes, etc. after she is in bed.)
With a big hug and kiss, I thank her for helping me. It was a nice way to get a crummy chore done while practicing some language and vocabulary. The best part was getting to have some good “mother-daughter time” with just the two of us.