Monday, July 12, 2010

Keeping House with Small Children

American Housewife Marjorie McWeeney Cleaning House and Watching Her Children

There are times when keeping house is more difficult. When you have babies and small children, there is not as much time to get everything accomplished. I want to share a few ideas with you tonight:

1. Playpens. 

When my children were little, they were always in a playpen. They were taken out for a walk in the fresh air, or to spend time with mother and daddy at certain intervals throughout the day. But all their toys were in that playpen. It was intended to keep them safe.  It's strange now that experts tell us to let the babies run free and explore. But this is so dangerous and makes a mother exhausted.

If I was in the kitchen cleaning or making supper, I would bring the playpen with me, so I could watch my toddler and talk to her, and make her laugh while I worked.

If I was tired and needed a break, I would set up her playpen right beside the couch where I could lay down and she could still reach out to me (or throw toys at me, or hit me on the head with a brush!).

The children loved to watch me vacuum while they giggled from the playpen.

Here is the problem - if your baby is not used to a playpen, good luck trying to get them to stay in one! It should be started from day-one. It should be a normal rule. Once that rule is broken, baby will expect to have all the freedom in the world and will not be content in that safe little playpen.

I want to mention Pilgrim mothers and Colonial mothers. These women cooked over an open fire in their small homes. It would have been fatal to allow a child to roam free. The children were kept in little beds or highchairs, and strapped in their seats while Mama worked, for their own safety. Then they were taken out to get the air, or enjoy the sunshine or play with the family. But they knew they had to be in those seats or beds and played there, quite content, since they knew no other way.

2. When baby is sick.

There will be times when all mother can do is rock the child or pace while holding a sick baby. Those are  rough times and very little housework will get done. If possible, see if you can get paper plates, paper cups and frozen dinners. Do the best you can to get by until baby is better.

3. Rules for preschoolers.

My children were only allowed in certain rooms. They were not allowed in my kitchen. I hear stories of preschoolers and toddlers getting into the fridge and helping themselves to snacks. But if they are not allowed in there to begin with, this kind of thing will rarely, if ever, happen.  But these rules have to be enforced from day one. A child will never know what they are missing out on, if they are not allowed to do something in the first place.

I remember when Rachel (now 22) and Nicole (21) were little girls. Rachel was 3 and Nicole was 2. They played in our large living room. One day I was cooking in the kitchen and then I walked over to the window. I noticed the girls were giggling and having a wonderful time.  They could not see me. Here is what they were doing:

Nicole  had her little foot on the Living room rug. But the rest of her body was in the kitchen. She knew she wasn't allowed in the kitchen, so she kept her foot on that rug! She was throwing a toy to see how far it would go into the kitchen and then giggling while she tried to retrieve it. I watched her do this over and over again and that little foot of hers never left the living room rug! Believe me, children will find a way to have a good time and keep the rules at the same time!

No food was allowed in the living room. This was also one of our rules. I remember when I had all five children and we were living in a different home. Amy was 3 years old. She was eating a cracker and then started to walk in the living room. We were all in there sitting and playing. One of the older children scolded her, saying, "Amy!! No food in the living room!" That little darling, immediately turned around, threw the cracker back in the kitchen and went on to the living room as if nothing had happened!

4. In the Nursery Stage.

The rules for babies, toddlers and preschoolers should be enforced while they are in the "nursery stage." When they get older and can be trusted with responsibility, it is time to allow them into the kitchen to help with dishes and cleaning. They will feel grown up and needed if they wait until they reach the age of maturity before being allowed in those "grown up" rooms.  These "big kids" can also help with the younger ones. They will feel so special when they are finally allowed out of the nursery!

Well, my dear ones, I hope you enjoy the time you have with your little treasures. I know they are messy and loud. I know they don't let you sleep. But do the best you can and leave the rest!

Mrs. White

Reading to children at bedtime in Precious Stories.

Sweet Nightly Routine - It is Bed Time for Mother's Little Ones.

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author said...

Oh bestest friend!!!! Here's a little something for you:

berrypatch said...

It was wonderful to read this today. I've always felt slightly guilty about all the time I used the playpen but it was for the very reasons you stated. Especially once you have more than one child. A mother can't be everywhere at once so I used the playpen to keep the little one safe and my sanity intact. ;-)

i cant decide said...

Great thoughts on your chosen subject, as always. I don't allow my little children in certain rooms either. I just set up a schoolroom and that has really helped with the morning chaos and mess that we used to have.

Anonymous said...

Well said once again Mrs. White. I can't say "Ditto" loud enough. Training our little ones to play contently in their playpens is so important!

Beth E. said...

When our boys were little we had rules, too. They are 22 and 19 now, and we still have rules in our home. :-)