Turns out that Grandma zips up Flea’s coat when they’re out. Grandma opens the car door for Flea, so Flea doesn’t risk getting her poor little hands dirty. If it's raining, Grandma has been known to carry Flea from the car to the house, so Flea doesn't stand in any puddles. Crikey, Grandma makes breakfast, serves it at the table, and clears the dirty dishes away afterwards. Grandma goes to the bathroom with Flea.
In a way, it’s great – grandparents should spoil kids a bit. But it makes it harder for me to get Flea to be independent, and I admit it does make me feel a bit guilty about how much I expect her to do for herself at home.
At four and a half, Flea can get herself up and dressed. She brushes her own teeth and hair. Depending on what we’re having for breakfast, she usually gets her own food, and clears her own dishes away. If she’s thirsty, she’s long been allowed to go and get a cup and fill it with milk or water, without any supervision.
If I’m cooking, Flea always helps with some of the preparation, even if it’s just getting the plates and cutlery, or chopping vegetables. She likes spreading her own Marmite on her toast, and cutting up her own slices of cheese, or adding herbs to a sauce.
Flea has chores, too. She’s responsible for folding and putting away her own laundry (though my need for order means I have to go and re-do it while she’s at school, obviously). She tidies away her own toys each day, and she helps to put groceries away when we’ve been shopping. She polishes her school shoes on a Sunday, just as I did when I was a kid.
Being a single parent means she also gets roped in to DIY chores, and has done a lot of “hold that steady while I get the screwdriver” type activities – I’m pleased to say she can identify and pass me most of the tools in my toolbox if I’m on top of a ladder pointlessly trying to repair something in our tumbledown house.
Still, sometimes I think wonder if it is all too much for a four-year-old, and that perhaps as a single parent I expect her to do things most parents wouldn’t expect of their kids. So, I’m curious – what chores do you give your children, and when did you start expecting them to help out?