My 3-year-old daughter is really taking an interest in helping out with household tasks lately. This includes baking, cooking, setting the dinner table, laundry, and helping out with her little sister. “I want to help!” is a phrase she uses a lot.

These little moments are easy to take for granted, yet they often provide opportunities for learning, bonding and creating special memories together, as well as discovering abilities and interests. Not to mention the boost of confidence my daughter gets from helping out. I really believe that all children want to feel like a contributing member of the household and as parents we are given the special task of providing opportunities that enable this.

I find that when she is helping me to cook or bake it provides fun educational opportunities. She loves to learn and enjoys being challenged so I will ask her questions like, “If we just used one egg and add two more, how many eggs did we use? Let’s count them!” or ask her to count the number of ingredients we used. Another little challenge she enjoys is when I ask her to “remind me” what we did in the correct order. This particular skill is called sequencing and one that I was constantly working on with the kindergarten students I taught.

Yeah...she wasn't excited to help make  Rice Krispy treats AT ALL! (Photo Credit: C. Corrigan)

Yeah…she wasn’t excited to help make Rice Krispy treats AT ALL! (Photo Credit: C. Corrigan)

When I come home from work I’ll ask her how school was. “Good!” she’ll reply. Then, when I ask what she did or learned she will sometimes reply simply with “I don’t know.” Really? I didn’t think I would be getting that response until her teen years! I have found, however, that she tends to spill the beans when we are working on something together. Maybe it’s because she hasn’t been put on the spot, or perhaps she wants to add to our conversation during our moments of bonding. Either way, I’ll take it!

I am constantly amazed at how capable my not-so-little girl really is. Her abilities impress me on a daily basis. I guess it’s just challenging to face the fact that my little girl is really growing up. I’m thoroughly enjoying these moments of working together and discovering her interests. I don’t remember being interested in helping my mom cook when I was young. Well, to be honest, I still don’t like cooking. My daughter loves it! I also see how nurturing she is when her sister needs help or gets hurt. She’s the first one there to comfort her. In fact, her preschool teachers at school even refer to her as “the little mother.”

Although it can be easier and quicker for me to do some of these everyday tasks by myself at times, it is certainly not as rewarding as seeing the sense of pride my little girl has when she feels like she has helped. I’m hoping she will still feel this way as a teenager (but I certainly won’t hold my breath). For now, I’m going to cherish all of these little moments that, well, aren’t really all that little.

It's not child labor if she WANTS to do it, right? She did get to have fun jumping in the big leaf pile first! (Photo Credit: C. Corrigan)

It’s not child labor if she WANTS to do it, right? She did get to have fun jumping in the big leaf pile first! (Photo Credit: C. Corrigan)

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