preschooler help

“Mommy, I want to help!”

This is probably the phrase that comes out of my 3 year old’s mouth the most often. I can be doing anything, and I mean anything – I can be on my way to the bathroom and she will offer to come help! It’s sweet, really it is, but as I’m sure most of you with similar aged children know, having children ‘help’ often creates twice as much work.

Some things aren’t so bad – like at Thrifty’s the other day I had my daughter help me do the shopping by picking out the head of lettuce, and the brand of pasta, that we should buy – she was THRILLED to be able to make those choices, and we both had a lot of fun. She then also pointed out the milk that I was walking right by, which we needed – so she truly was a big help that day as she saved me another trip out.

However, there are (many!) other times where letting her help backfires –  watering plants in the garden often results in a tiny sprinkle on one plant…and the flooding of the next. And you don’t even want to know about the damage done when I let her help with the dishes.

I know it’s important for kids to learn new, useful skills, and that being able to help gives them confidence, but sometimes I really don’t feel like cleaning up flour dumped all over the counter after her squeal of “Let me stir!”, or fishing out egg shells from the bowl after she insists on cracking the eggs.

And isn’t it also a little ironic that offers to help rarely extend to helping Mommy clean up the toys she has left ALL over the floor?!

I’m struggling, and I’m sure some of you are too – so what are we supposed to do? Do we grin and bear it when we have to re-fold all the laundry our little ones have ‘helped’ us fold? Or do we distract them with something else (Paw Patrol usually works!) while we just do it ourselves? Likely the answer lies somewhere in between, depending on the situation. The answer also totally depends on the amount of patience we have that particular day.

We all want our children to learn, and to feel like they are needed, but us Moms also need to keep our bloody sanity too! Not to mention we have enough to do without making double the work for ourselves. It’s a sticky situation!

Now you’ll have to excuse me – I need to go into the kitchen and re-wash the carrots after my daughter ‘helped’ by adding a more than generous squeeze of dish soap to the sink they were soaking in.