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I'm a single mom and because I work pretty much every minute my son (age 3.5) is with his dad, at the child care co-op, or sleeping, I usually do whatever housework I can manage when my son is awake and with me. (This usually isn't much--for me, getting the dishes done and maybe vacuuming up a few feet of dog-hair-enrusted carpet is a huge accomplishment.) I'm studying for my PhD qualifying exams and also working PT from home doing research and writing for someone.

My son often is not happy when I am cleaning up, and begs me to read him a story or sit with him & play trains, etc. Now usually we've just finished dinner (I can whip up fish and veggies with approx. 4 minutes of effort) and reading stories, and I really need to take 20 minutes and clean the kitchen. (I usually clean up only once a day.)

Because it's just me, it's really important to me that my son allow me to do this--otherwise it just doesn't get done, and facing a dirty kitchen at 10:30 pm after he's asleep, especially when I still need to do another couple of hours of work, usually just means that I don't do it, which means the next day it's even worse, etc.

I usually just tell my son that I will read to him and play again when I am done cleaning up. Sometimes he just goes and plays or looks at a book by himself, but most of the time it's like tonight, when he locked the dishwasher
, begged me over and over to read to him, threw stuff on the floor (increasing the mess I had to clean up--this happens regularly), clawed me, and bothered the dog. I do ask him to help me sometimes, but maybe not as much as I should--I just figure it's going to be a lot quicker if I just do it. And sometimes he just says No if I ask him anyway. I just said over and over that I would read to him when I was finished. (which I did) When he wouldn't let me open the dishwasher, I just stood there waiting until he moved on his own, and told him what I was waiting for.

It's really important to me that since we are going to be living our lives together like this for as far into the future as I can imagine, my son has to understand that I want to finish things like cleaning up before I can play with him. Believe me, I am no neat freak, but rotting garbage in the sink when it's 90 degress out is not something I'm going to let sit for more than a day
even if it means sending my kid into great distress.

Any suggestions as to how I can better deal with this? I try to just very calmly tell him that I will play with him when I'm done, and then be very firm about doing just that. (in that I will not read to him, no matter how much he complains, until I'm finished.) Sometimes I do lose it, especially if I'm tired and he is banging the crap out of the dishwasher door which I don't want to have to pay to get fixed, so I'd love to have something to try when I know I am close to that point.
 

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What about giving him 30 minutes after dinner where he has your undivided attention? Set the timer, sit on the floor and do whatever he wants.

Then, after that 30 minutes, set the timer for another 20 minutes and tell him that this is your 'cleaning time' and that when the timer goes off, you'll be there with him again.

That still gets the dishes done fairly quickly, while he's awake, but it gives him the attention that it appears he NEEDS from you right now. I often find with my kids that if I fill up their need for attention they're much more willing to give me "my time" afterwards, especially if they know how long it's going to be.

The timer is really a key part to this as my kids know that when the timer beeps, I'll be done. We use the timer for a LOT of transitions in our house, and it really helps (and hey, it taught our son to tell time by the time he was 4!)

I would then maybe have some favorite toys, or books on tape or something special that only comes out when your cleaning up -- a little incentive for him to want to play on his own.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LynnS6
I would then maybe have some favorite toys, or books on tape or something special that only comes out when your cleaning up -- a little incentive for him to want to play on his own.
Books on tape work great with my 3-1/2 year old ds. I use them for the couple of times a day that I need to nurse dd to sleep.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by LynnS6
What about giving him 30 minutes after dinner where he has your undivided attention? Set the timer, sit on the floor and do whatever he wants.

Then, after that 30 minutes, set the timer for another 20 minutes and tell him that this is your 'cleaning time' and that when the timer goes off, you'll be there with him again.
I agree with this. Sounds like he really needs Mommy time, and maybe if his cup is filled he will be better able to play by himself for a bit afterwards.
 

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We use a "yes bucket" (or box, or jar, whatever) and it works like a charm. Whenever I get asked to do things that are so very reasonable but no time, we write the request on a slip of paper and place it in the "yes bucket". Then, when we have 10 minutes or whatever, we can get a slip from the bucket and do it. Once they realize that you really will do the things in the bucket, they seem to be fine writing it and placing it in. I think they mostly want your acknowledgement of what they want to do.
 

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Could he help you? I'm assuming you're using the dishwasher and not handwashing dishes. He could scrape food off dishes into the trash, or put dishes in the dishwasher, or shut the door and lock it for you. You could give him the clean silverware and let him sort it and put it away.

It sounds like he's really missing you, and probably tired and grumpy from the long day. Does he sleep by himself? You could clean up after he goes to bed.

We usually have dinner from 5:30-6pm. Play/reading time from 6-7. Bedtime routines start at 7. The 2yo and 4yo are asleep by 8:00 and the 7yo is in bed reading. Then I spend 20-60 minutes cleaning, and it's concentrated cleaning because no one is making messes while I'm picking them up. Then I have the rest of the evening to recover from the day and relax.
 

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When I am in a similar situation, there's a chore that HAS to get done and dd is begging for attention, I have a few strategies:

I try to make the chore part of the game, like I'll tell a story that involves dishes - once upon a time there was a bowl who loved to swim (in the sink)...
We pretend that there's somethine magical lost on the floor so we have to sweep to find it,
Or I'll sing and dance while doing the washing up.
stuff like that.

I sit with dd for a few minutes and explain to her about why I have to wash up (or whatever) and listen patiently while she tells me that she doesnt want me to do it. then I ask her what I can do so that she will be happy while I wash up. what if I get out water paints and she can paint on the floor tiles before I wash them (while I do dishes), what if I give her some playdo to play with while I wash up, what if I get her a tub of water and bubbles and give her some dishes she can wsh with her dolls, does she want to teach her dolls to wash up, what if we put music on... and so on. you can get washable bath soap pens that I think you can draw on the dishes with and then wash off.

Sometimes I'll even put on a video for her to watch while I'm cleaning, and sometimes I just do it with her whinging at my heels (when I'm really desperate for a clean, like if MIL is coming over, and I'm just too past the end of my rope to care.) Then I ALWAYS follow up with a big "attention" session, and I explain to her all the while that I need to clean up now, and give her the space to be unhappy about it.

There's more, but i'm done for the night. hope this helps!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by chefpaige1
We use a "yes bucket" (or box, or jar, whatever) and it works like a charm. Whenever I get asked to do things that are so very reasonable but no time, we write the request on a slip of paper and place it in the "yes bucket". Then, when we have 10 minutes or whatever, we can get a slip from the bucket and do it. Once they realize that you really will do the things in the bucket, they seem to be fine writing it and placing it in. I think they mostly want your acknowledgement of what they want to do.
I really like this idea. I think I will use it with my oldest son (he's 7.5), I think he'd really dig that.

I love the timer idea. I use that with my kids


Namaste, Tara
 

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I absolutely involved my kids in all housework and chores when they were little. It does take longer --- but the payoff is showing itself now -- the kids could do the dishes independently by the time they were about 6 or 7 years old, and thought it was supposed to be a fun thing because we had always done it together and made it fun.

If its too difficult to pull up a chair and have him beside you, take a basin or a cake pan and skim just the suds off a sink full of soapy water. Put the basin with the suds on the floor and give him a cup, a spoon, and a plastic dish. Its amazing how much time can be killed with a pan full of soap suds!
 

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How about rinsing out the cooking dishes as the dinner is ready and putting what you won't eat into a leftover container as you are dishing out the food then loading the dishes before you serve the meal so that all you have to do afterwards is wipe off things and load the plates in the dishwasher. If the meal is hot it has time to cool off a little before being served and if it is cold it isn't going to go bad while you load a few dishes. If you let your ds watch tv perhaps this would be the ideal time to put on a show or a short movie (Elmo, Barney, etc...) so you can get things done. Or you could let him stand on a chair and turn the pages while you read if the cleaning isn't to involved.
 

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What I did was - when I am involved in something physical that does not require much of thinking (like washing the dishes) I would tell DD the made-up stories instead of reading.

Since my fantasy skills are yet developing
, the stories usually would revolve around what I am doing. I'd have a story about the spoon and a fork that decided that they are tired of being dirty and wanted to jump in the sink, the "lost in the laundry socks" (or something equally as silly)

As we go, I would ask DD to put a dish away, or help me load the dryer - she saw (and still does) saw those times as completely play-times.

Yes, the chore takes longer, but not longer that the separate chore+separate play time
 

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I'm in agreement with involving the child in the chores (in as fun as possible a way, of course).

DD23mos has a toddler sized broom and a little watering can -- she happily "helps" me sweep the floor and water plants. She also helps clear the table by bringing things one at a time to me (from the table to the dishwasher) -- it's a short distance but I make much of her for carrying everything so well and she loves it.

She also "helps" me do laundry -- she tells me whose shirt or pants or whatever it is, and we put it in that person's pile... then she carries her laundry to her room. Yeah, she drops it half the time and I have to refold it... but I *do* get my chores done, and we are spending enjoyable time together.
 

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I'm another one who's all for having the child "help." And my DD is only 19 months!

I've already brought DD a child sized broom and dust pan. She has a toy vaccuum cleaner that says a lot of cute cleaning slogans, but she's not crazy about it. There's a toy vaccuum cleaner that really picks up stuff out there, and I think I'm going to get it for her. But a 3 year old could probably have fun with a dust buster. There are also child sized mops. (These things can be found at Walmart or wherever.) Today, I finally let DD load the dishwasher for the first time, because she's always begging to play with it. (This got the dirty dishes out of the sink, at least. Then I reloaded it properly after dinner.) And I let her stand on a chair and play with cups of water while I washed pots, for the first time today. I learned that she could accurately pour water from one container into another. I wouldn't have learned she could do that already if I had continued to keep her away from the sink. If she was 3 or older, I'd probably get her a little pan of suds, like another person suggested, but for now, our unsealed, wooden floors couldn't handle all that water.

For a couple of months now DD has been wiping up her own spills for fun. (Then I finish the job.) When I changed her diaper, she had started to try to wipe her own privates herself several months ago. Now that she's potty trained, she wipes her own bottom! (Then I finish the job. Sigh.) She bathes herself while I read. (Then I finish up the job! LOL!) I feel guilty for sitting on the toilet reading, while my "Spa Girl" plays and washes herself. But hey, this kid asks for baths no less than twice a day. If I'm going to consent to letting her hang out and enjoy herself in the tub, I might as well get in a little momma time in. (Plus, she practiced her kicking and blowing bubbles in the water today. I'm happy she's working on her swimming skills.)

Frankly, I find it fun to have her "help" me. (Except when she sweeps the dust back all over the floor. To beat that, I just sweep it harder and farther away, so that she can't undo too much.) And also, I'm proud to have found a way to let her do what she wants without saying "no" all the time. I used to refuse to let her help me-- and that didn't make either of us happy. Now, having a toddler who cleans makes me think I might not have to push her too much when she's older. She'll already have the habit!

Faith
 

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Actually, children in traditional societies all contrubute in famliy work as soon as they can sit up and hold a tool. When I travelled in Asia and Africa, I saw kids as young as 2 or 3 chopping bamboo with real full-sized machetes, often without proper adult supervision, or grinding grains, or carving or whatever. The kids weren't "forced" to work, they were simply allowed to join in and contribute. and I believe this is a natural and healthy way for children to learn and to develop.
 

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If you have a child like my youngest then books or t.v. won't really do it.
: My youngest likes attention and isn't the type of child that can sit still long. She goes to preschool all year long and likes to be "with" me when she is with me. So if I'm putting clothes in the washer/dryer I will let her help sometimes. If I'm loading the dishwasher I will put some water in the sink and let her wash off dishes and play in the water. She can play in water for hours! I just let her feel like she is helping me and that usually makes her feel better.

If I don't have housework and I just want to relax and sit on the couch and she keeps bugging me to get up then I'll usually do something with her like play cars, dolls, draw, playdoh or something and after a while she is okay so I can actually have some time to myself.


When my youngest used to go to daycare she would be really clingy once we got home each evening and I knew I had supper to think about, our oldest child and his homework, housework, etc. so what I did was as soon as we got in the door I'd have time with her like sitting and cuddling or playing with her toys. This was usually enough to make her happy so I could go start supper and do other things a mommy has to do.
 

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I'll admit to not reading all of the replies, but my DS who is now 2.5 "helps" me now with dishes and vacuuming. He stands on his chair at the sink with me beside him and he uses the sponge to help clean the dishes or really just play in the water while I rinse the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. He also helps me unload by taking only the plastics and bringing them to me to put in the cabinet. He also has his own little vacuum and now will re-vacuum the area I just finished vacuuming when I move on to the next area. He still isn't too keen on the loud vacuum, so going over what I just finished gives him a little distance from the noise, but he is still helping. Oh, he also helps with laundry by carrying some and trying to put it in the washer, and when it's time for it to go into the dryer, I sit it on the door and he pushes it into the dryer. He's loving that he gets to help Mommy, and I'm loving being able to get a few things done here and there.

It takes a little longer to get things done, but finally I AM getting things done.
 
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