We don't watch much tv in our house, my three year old has just now started watching a little bit more (one thirty minute show 4 times a week) but my one year old never watches TV. When I tell people this I always get the same strange look of "well what do you do with them, while you get chores done??" I never know what to say because to me this is the normal. They do chores with me. So recently I have taken note of what it is I do with my kids while I "work". I hope this helps someone!
Laundry- I think this is by far the easiest chore to do with my kids!
When I sort my laundry I ask my older son to help me, "Dexter can you put the red blue and green colors in a pile with mom?" He gets really excited to help and Max follows suit and just moves clothes around and although he doesn't know his colors yet I think it is part of the reason Dex learned all his colors at 18 months.
Max is great at helping me put the laundry into the machine, we have high efficency machines and no pedestals so they are basically on the ground (GRUMBLE GRUMBLE) but one thing this is good for is little helpers!
They also like to help me push the buttons. I will tell them which to push and they will do it, then I put the child lock on and we are done!
Max helps me throw the clothes from the washer to the dryer and thinks this is HILARIOUS! I am really not sure why but he always laughs hard when we do it.
Okay now this is going to sound really really strange but when my laundry is all done I have the boys sit on the floor and I say "who wants to be a laundry monster!?" and then I dump all the clean laundry I have on their heads. I suppose this is totally un-necessary but they love it.
Once all the laundry is clean neither of my kids can fold laundry yet but my three year old can "hunt" for things, like socks, his under wear. Stuff I don't fold and he puts it in the basket. My one year old just flops around on the clean laundry while I fold it.
Cooking- This is where most of my friends concern is. Cooking with kids is hard I will admit it, but if you don't teach them who will? Yes neither of my kids couldn't prepare a meal at their ages I am not saying they can but they like to participate, and be part of the experience.
Ingredients- when I need to get stuff out Dexter is big enough that I can ask him for help, get the milk, butter, vegetables whatever is on his level. I have my fridge organized in a way that the stuff on bottom is stuff I want the boys to get or help with and then the next shelf is Dexter's stuff and left overs and the top is stuff I prefer them not to get into. This is pretty much the way my entire house is set up too.
Then we cook together! There are things that I prefer them not to help with (raw meat) I do myself and usually I give them muffin tins with things for them to organize or wooden spoons and cookie sheets for them to bang on. When we cook I give Dexter his own cutting board and some veggies to cut up. The knife I give him is a child's knife and can't really cut anything. But he does try his hardest to "do it like momma" Max usually stands at the table with us and just eats the veggies we are cutting up but he likes to stand there and watch so I let him! Yes we prepare food at the table because we have NO counter space.
Both boys help me mix and pour ingredients. Dexter loves to measure things so I always let him do this.
EXAMPLE- Making cookies.
"Dexter can you get out three wooden spoons, and the BIG silver bowl for mom?"
While he is doing this I get out the ingredients he can't reach and Max just runs around the kitchen just being excited with all the commotion.
After dex has gotten the spoons and bowl I will ask for butter and he can easily get it.
Then I get Dexter a chair to stand on and set Max up on the counter.
The butter needs to be melted so Dexter puts it in the microwave and Max pushes the buttons with my help.
We put the dry ingredients in the bowl, Dexter likes to measure them out and Max likes to pour it in.
"Alright lets stir it up!!" Both boys put their spoons in and they mix it while I pour in the melted butter.
Then we add the other stuff, I do the eggs they do the rest with my help. When it comes to the chocolate chips they just want to eat them so I put a few in a bowl for them.
Then I ask them to make balls with the dough and put it on the cookie sheet by now Max is just eating the raw cookie dough and Dexter is picking out the chocolate chips. haha. Yes I let them eat raw cookie dough, no I don't want to hear your criticism I ate raw cookie dough all the time and I am alive.
I give them a few more chocolate chips in their bowl and put it on the floor across the room so I can open and close the oven without them near so they don't get hurt.
If they don't feel like helping me or want to snack the whole time I am making food I give them fruit or veggies on a plate.
If they don't want to help or snack I find something for them to do.
Here are our favorites for cooking time:
A large bowl with about 1 cup of water in it. and mixing spoons. I put it on a towel so the mess is limited but it still makes a mess.
A cookie sheet and different cooking utensils (wooden spoons, spatulas, metal spoons etc) for them to make "music" with.
Bottle caps and a muffin tin for them to "sort out"
A little bit of flour on a cookie sheet, sometimes I hide bits of paper in it and they think its a hunt to find the paper.
I set a few books in the dinning room for them to read while I cook.
Turn on music loudly and have a dance party while we cook.
When we had a bigger sink Dexter would stand next to me and help me wash dishes and when he was little like max he would sit on the floor with some water and a clean dish and splash it in the water!
All the dishes for the boys are kept withing their reach so when it is time to take them out of the dishwasher I can ask Dexter to put them away and he will.
Max can get the dishes out and put them near the table when its time for dinner!
Cleaning- Kids are way capable of cleaning!
Vacuuming- Dexter likes to do the suction part and gets all the edges. Max just likes to run in front or behind the vacuum and make noises at it..
Putting things away- umm they just put things away with me.
Wiping floor boards and other flat surfaces- I give them each a rag with a little water on it and they wipe with me. I sometimes give Dexter a spray bottle of water this makes him feel important!
When I do chores that use chemicals I don't want my kids near (moping cleaning the toilet) I just tell them to go play and they do. They don't constantly need me to entertain them because they have never had the TV on to constantly stimulate them. Dexter likes to do puzzles a lot right now and Max likes to play with stuffed animals so I will set those things out for them and do the chores I need to do without them while they are busy.
So this is what we do! I know every family is different but this is how it works for us and it works well. I was once told children should be seen and not heard and I could not disagree more. I want my children to be a part of my family and my daily life. Not saying if you set your kids in front of the tv all day or during chores they are not a part of your family, but I want my boys to be able to help me out. I didn't learn how to do my own laundry till I was 19 and lived out of my moms house. Not because I watched tv all day but because my mom was to nice and never made me learn how and just did it for me. She did everything for us and I think back on it and I know her days must have been so much harder and it makes me feel so guilty! I can't imagine doing the laundry for 5 grown people!!
I hope this helps someone, and if you have any more suggestions please let me know!!