1. Put small plates, bowls & cups within their immediate reach. This works for all ages. My 2yr old loves to grab a bowl and present it for a snack. My older ones have no excuse for not getting their own snack.
2. Put cereal in a container that is easy to access for little hands. Its hard to fill a bowl from a bag inside a box. Give them a big airtight container with a scoop. Ultimately is saves you time and stale cereal.
3. Provide a quart size milk in the door of the fridge. They love to be able to poor themselves a glass or fill their cereal bowl.
4. Provide easy access to paper towels. That way they can take responsibility for any spills. Remember ... the responsibility they take for the spill is more important than how well they clean it (up to a point: )
5. Provide places close to the entrance or exit for coats, shoes, backpacks. Hooks and bins strategically placed can save you a lot of nagging.
6. Let them dress themselves. Any children over the age of three should be able to do this. Let go of your need to color coordinate them. Put clothes in their drawers that will mix and match and don't sweat it if they choose combinations that you wouldn't.
I once made my three year old go to preschool in his pjs because he refused to dress himself. He didn't get that I was empowering him! He did after that though: )
7. My boys have no desire to wear underwear. I put their underwear in their pants drawer so they at least see them before they pull the jeans out.
8. What is your biggest hiccup when it comes to making it out the door on time? We have a three story house and I found my boys always having to run upstairs for socks. We now have all socks strategically placed on the first floor near the shoes.
9. Small children love chores. Give them something they can do on their own . . straighten their bedspread, put their clothes in the laundry basket, clean their plate from the table. . . . and give them a star for it. They will be your biggest helpers.
10. Plan ahead. Give them time to get it all done themselves. If it takes 30 minutes to get it done then start 45 min early. Provide them with the tools to get it done and be on time. It is a valuable skill to learn to get it done while respecting the time of others involved.
11. Plan recipes that involve them, be it break and bake cookies or a can they can dump in a pan. They love to feel included and helpful.
12. Let them clean. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and water and give them a towel. How much harm can they do? Plus, they might actually clean something.
13. Label bins with words or pictures so they know where to put their toys. Set a timer for 15 minutes and give them a job. Everyone will be amazed at how much can be accomplished in 15 min when everything has its place.
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