Ask for help!

Help Wanted?“If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play!”
~Charlotte Mason

Teach your children to meet your needs, just as gladly as you meet theirs. Ask for their help.

For instance, if your day feels bleak and dreary, you can ask your children to make you a centerpiece of pine cones and then send them out to find the cones, holly, and sprigs of pine.

If you are beleaguered, you know that tea cures all. Ask a child to put on the kettle.

Ask your children to set a beautiful table for lunch, using the special placemats.

Ask an older child to set the timer, and then lead a five-minute “spruce up” of the living room to loud music.

You can ask your kids to toss a Frisbee with you in the fresh air.

You can all make sock balls that you toss into a clean waste can at the end of laundry folding to score points.

Ask your children to lay a washcloth across your forehead when you have a headache and to add a little lavender oil.

Ask them to use Pledge and the dusting cloth to wipe down all the dusty wooden surfaces. (Kids love this!)

Asking for help is different than assigning chores. Drop the “assignments” and “demands” and “lectures about responsibility,” and literally ask for help.

You might frame it like this:

“Wow. I’m exhausted today and a little overwhelmed. You know what would help me?….”

Then say it. Children love to make you happy and helping you is the chief way they can.

When you are overdone, get help or go play––or do both. I like that Charlotte Mason gives us permission to do just that.

Cross-posted on facebook.

Image by Paul Townsend

4 Responses to “Ask for help!”

  1. Domanicka says:

    Just curious, has any of your children said no to your request for help? If so, what did you do? If not, what would you have done? My kids have specific chores everyday. Are you saying not to assign chores and just ask for their help to change the dynamic of responsibility? Did you ever assign your kids chores to do around the house or just framed it differently? Just curious what worked for you.

  2. Julie Bogart says:

    Yes. A “no” has to be an acceptable answer or you weren’t asking for help, but commanding it. It took some time for kids to say “yes.” I have a couple who pitched in easily and a couple who wanted to test the request (was it real?) and so would say no.

    I have a couple who are still less likely to say yes than the others.

    What I got tired of was the relentlessness of the resistance to coercion. I found that the temperature of the relationships was better when we cooperated rather than had one person coercing the other. On the other hand, we did have a long season of assigned chores (dad wanted them). With a family of seven, there was some value to knowing that the bathrooms were cleaned once a week, and the floors vacuumed. Usually Saturday mornings were for house keeping (an hour). We also taught our kids how to clean up after dinner. Dad and kids cleaned up since I cooked.

    What I discovered when I was first given the “ask for help” model was that my kids were friendlier about helping than they were about doing chores. As they got older, we dropped required chores (our philosophy was evolving). It felt more peaceful to use the “ask for help” model.

  3. Mary says:

    We even took it one step further, we taught our kids to ask, “Is there anything you need me to do?” or,” Is there anything you need help with?” They found that if they asked this before they became invested in reading a book, playing games etc they had uninterrupted time. Even as older teens and young adults they still ask. Many time my answer was no I didn’t need anything done but I always appreciated them asking, they always felt good about asking and they always knew I wasn’t going to interrupt them with a request. It was a win win for everyone. I just make sure that the work is evenly divided among everyone including myself so no one person feels they are doing it all. Saturday mornings are still our major cleaning time but each day the kids check in with me if there is anything that I need done for that day.