The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year, a time when most parents could use some extra help. Rather than adding more projects to your own to-do list, here's a better idea: Get the kids on board. While some Thanksgiving tasks, like carving the turkey or whipping up a tasty cocktail, are better left to the grownups, there are plenty of other ways children can help out. Plus, experts say it's a really good idea for the both of you.
Chores are essential to developing your child's self esteem, says Stephanie O'Leary, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist and author of Parenting in the Real World. "There's nothing better than a child being able to accomplish something they didn't think they were capable of, or feeling like they're contributing to a task the entire family is undertaking," she explains. Give your child a chore, and you'll see their confidence soar.
Doling out Thanksgiving duties is also rewarding for you. When you assign your youngster a job, it's one more thing you can check off your to-do list. "It's a wonderful way to delegate responsibility and keep the household moving forward," says O'Leary. Getting your child involved also cuts back on parenting guilt that can arise during this busy time of year, because whipping up a recipe together or working side by side in the kitchen is a great way to spend time together.
While you should always take your child's maturity level and skill set into consideration, here are the holiday chores O'Leary says are appropriate for kids according to their age group.
- Pick up toys and tidy family areas.
- Sweep floors and dust surfaces.
- Rake leaves in the lawn.
- Put away groceries.
- Sort the silverware.
- Wash, chop, and cut vegetables with adult supervision.
- Assist in baking cookies, pies, and cakes for dessert.
- Set the table.
- Make and arrange place-cards for the table.
- Clear the table after dinner.
- Put dishes in the dishwasher with adult supervision.
- Take out the trash.
- Take used napkins and dish towels to the laundry room to be washed.
- Write the grocery list.
- Clean the bathrooms for guests.
- Wash, dry, and fold dish towels and tablecloths.
- Bake desserts and help cook simple side dishes.
- Bring dishes to the table and serve the food.
- Wrap up leftovers.
- Load the dishwasher.
- Launder dish towels and tablecloths.
- Clean the microwave.
- Wash dishes in the sink.
- Go grocery shopping and run other errands.
- Babysit siblings while parents prep for the holidays.
- Assist in planning the meals and finding recipes.
- Clean out the fridge and freezer to make room for groceries.
- Arrange flowers and make centerpiece for table.
- Make side dishes, desserts, and casseroles.
- Put away glassware and other more fragile dishes.
- Hand-wash knives and other cutlery.
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