The other day I watched a father & his young daughter mowing the lawn together on the riding mower. It immediately took me back to the time when my own children, now adults, used to ask to ride the mower with us. I remember, too, when I used to ask my uncle for rides on his mower (my parents never had a ride on when I was young – we pushed).
I got to thinking about the number of kids who want to “ride the mower” (substitute: spend time with a parent doing something fun) and are not given the opportunity.
As working parents, and many two working parent households, it is often easier to do something ourselves, to hurry up and get it done, especially chores. I was guilty of this myself, as a busy working parent. You’re doing the dishes and your child asks to “help”. Okay, we all know that really means the child wants to play in the water. Depending on your mood you will say “sure”, knowing it will take twice as long as you intended, or “no, I’ll do it” because it is a chore and you are tired from working all day and want to be done with chores.
Hindsight is 20/20 and if I had my children young and could do it over, I’d say “sure” and take the time (every time). I see it so clearly in kids today, who are starved for attention that even negative attention is better than no attention. Many of them just want someone to spend time with them.
Think about chores for a minute. When our oldest granddaughter was around 2, she loved playing in the sheets. Sometimes my husband would let her “help” fold some towels and they’d play and laugh together. Then there was the time we were baking cookies and I clapped my hands together, which resulted in a big puff of flour. I made the mistake of saying “Oh, it’s snowing.” You guessed it. It snowed all over my kitchen that day, but it sure is a fond memory.
My advice to parents,
If your child (at any age), asks to help you do something, they are asking for your time and attention. Pause before that “not today” automatically comes out of your mouth. Can’t you let your 20’s child help work on the car? Can’t your teen help with the painting? How about your elementary child helping with cooking, or mowing with the ride on mower? I know it takes much longer to let your toddler help with the laundry or the dishes, but can’t you take the time? If your child is asking to help with something, this does not mean your child wants to do chores. It means they want to be with you!
My advice to children (of any age)
Ask to help. Okay, maybe your parents are busy doing chores, because they work all day. Ask if you can help them. Get under the car with Dad. Help mom with the laundry. Help with the dishes. I’m not saying do their chores, I’m saying help your parents, or grandparents, with the chores they are already doing. Spend time with them. Chores go faster and are much more fun when more than one person is doing the work. Have a few laughs with the older generation, they want to spend time with you.
All right everybody, I’ll race you to the ride on!