Monday, July 6, 2015

5 things your 3-year old can (and should) do

Now that EG is three I've really ramped up my expectations for her.  Yup, yesterday she could skate on by in life, but today is the start of all the doldrums of life.  Like chores and responsibility... hehe...

1. Setting the table.  All children can help to set the table.  At the beginning it might be something as easy as napkins- no one can break a napkin!  But I'd throw the idea out there that a three year old is capable of doing napkins, silverware (yes, even butter knives for mommy and daddy) as well as their own plate.  It's possible that your three year old could handle bringing the nice plates to the table too!

2. Cleaning up after a meal.  At the very very least your three-year-old can clean up their own place.  That means taking their plate into the sink or the counter, getting their silverware where it needs to go, etc.  Throwing their napkin or yogurt cup into the trash can.  I would go so far as to add that most three-year-olds can help clear a baby sisters plate too.

3. Clean-up after themselves.  This is a wide range of things.  From putting their laundry in the laundry basket, hanging up their own backpack and coat, and cleaning up that milk they spill all over the floor. They are way more capable than we sometimes give them credit for.  Of course, using chemicals is still out of the game (aka, you still need to get out the cleaner when they pee on the floor yet again) but they can get the paper towels just the same.

4. Carrying their own things.  This applies to their backpack and lunch to/from school or daycare.  Their own jacket out to the car.  There is no reason for you to be a pack mule to your preschooler anymore.  If you get in the habit now by the time they hit regular school you can only worry about your own latte (and their younger siblings!)

5.  Packing their own things.  This one is a bit tricky.  It's not like your three-year-old can really guage what the right amount of underwear is for a 3 day trip (I'm going with at least 6 pairs), but they can help make sure that they have everything they need.  Their lovey- make sure they grab it.  Their special blanket- again on them.  Of course you have to pack the essentials like toothpaste and sunscreen, but they can certainly help pick things out and remember them too.  When EG tells me that we forgot something or asks me where something she thinks she needs is I'm fond of saying "well did you bring/remember/pack it?"  This one helps drive that message home that they can be responsible too!

Not all three-year-olds are ready for all these items at once.  Or maybe you are totally ahead of the curve and doing all of these things since your tiny baby was just 2 years old.  If so, then here are a few bonus things for you...

6. Helping cook food.  Most preschoolers can crack eggs, mix and dump things, and many are ready to help stir on the stove top.  Invest in a good stool  (I love the solid wood one from Ikea) and let them get to it. It's so great to have help at dinner time, rather than someone just constantly complaining about when dinner will be ready.   EG loves to help spread sauce, and cut things with her own Ikea plastic knife.  We've even been known to let her use a more dull metal knife on occasion.

7. Make the bed.  This might seem a bit irrelevant, but I think it's an important thing to be doing.  It really changes the make-up of a room and puts everyone on the right step from the beginning.  I help EG make her bed in the mornings, and if I'm honest we don't always get to it after naptime...  Of course, you could think like Eloise and have them make your bed...

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