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Encourage your kids to help around the house—the Montessori way

You might be surprised at how much they want to help. 

Encourage your kids to help around the house—the Montessori way

When parents observe a Montessori classroom, they invariably comment on how helpful the children are. Three-year-olds are sweeping up spills without being asked. Four-year-olds are arranging flowers to place on each table. Five-year-olds are patiently giving their younger friends lessons.


“What is the secret?” the parents ask.

Well I promise you, there is no magic involved but there are a few simple things we do in Montessori classrooms to encourage children to do their part to take care of the classroom.

The best part? They can easily be done at home, too. Here’s how.

1. Set the expectation.

Make it clear that everyone in the family helps take care of your home. Talk about how each person helps—how Daddy cooks dinner and Mommy does the laundry and how your child can help too. Talk about how these things make your home beautiful and comfortable and fun to be in.

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Don’t do this when you’re asking for help though, then it seems like a lecture. Talk about it over breakfast or in the car, not while in a power struggle over cleaning up toys.

Children want very much to be a full part of the family and hearing this will help them realize that helping out is part of your family culture.

2. Offer choices.

As adults, we have choices all of the time and it’s easy to forget how frustrating it can be to not get a say. Your child may not get a choice about whether to help, but you can give him a choice about how to help.

Instead of asking him to sweep the floor, ask if he’d rather sweep the floor or help fold the laundry. If there is something that has to be done, give him a choice about where to start: “Would you rather put away your blocks first or pick up your toy cars?”

3. Model the behavior.

Small children want to do what they see us do. How many times have you seen a child pretending to talk on a cell phone or turn a piece of tree bark into an iPad?

Your child will be so much more likely to help around the house if she sees you doing it. This won’t happen if you save all of your cleaning for nap time or after bed.

So bring a basket of laundry in while she’s playing and start folding—she may not join in the first time, but she likely will after a few days.

Start cleaning the mirror in her room and talk about how shiny it’s becoming. She will likely be drawn to what you’re doing and want to help out.

4. Ask indirectly.

You should absolutely be able to directly ask your child to do something like put away his toys. But if you’re just tidying up and thinking it would be nice if your kid would help you, try saying that out loud. “This sure is a big job. I wish I had some help.”

Who doesn’t want to save the day? Children honestly may not realize that you would like help, but will frequently rush in and start eagerly assisting if you mention it.

You should only ask indirectly if your child has a choice though, so this one isn’t for every occasion. It can, however, be a lifesaver with tricky toddlers who are in the “no” stage.

Your child may automatically say no if you ask him for anything directly, but will jump in and help if he feels like he’s choosing it himself.

5. Provide the tools.

There is such a huge market for pretend tools for children—play kitchens, play rakes and brooms, play hammers. They are wildly popular because children want to use the tools they see us using, so why not give them some real tools?

Your child will be much more likely to help sweep the floor if she has a little broom just her size. She can help scrub her sandbox toys if she has a little scrub brush.

Work is more fun when you have good tools. This is just as true for children as for us.

Make sure to keep her tools where she can get them herself too. You may be amazed when you see your child grab her broom and start sweeping after dinner without being asked. She can’t do this if her broom is kept out of sight where she can’t reach it though.

This is a great resource for child-sized tools of all kinds.

6. Give recognition.

Everyone likes to hear that their work is appreciated. How frustrating is it to spend an hour deep cleaning the kitchen and have no one notice?

This does not need to be over the top though. If you are too enthusiastic with your praise your child may start doing things just for you, to get more praise, and that’s not really what we want.

Try commenting on the specifics of what he did— You scrubbed the window so thoroughly, I can see the flowers in our garden all the way across the yard!” is much more meaningful than, “Good job, you’re such a good boy!”

7. Make it fun!

Just your attitude can go a long way with making things fun for children. But, why not take it a step further?

When it comes to children, I’ve found that nothing makes cleaning fun like a spray bottle. Have your child help you fill a small bottle with water and a drop of soap and watch her have a blast wiping the tables, chairs, windows, and mirrors. Set limits with this one though. If they’re spraying other people or spraying and not wiping up the water, the bottle goes away immediately. Every time.

A dustpan in his favorite color, a fun ladybug scrub brush, a cleaning cloth with his favorite character—there are so many ways to make housework a little more fun for kids. I think of this as similar to how my Vitamix makes cooking dinner more fun for me.

Take your time. View it as quality time together, not a chore to rush through. For example, sing Moana songs while you clean together. Be cheesy—It’s fun to work together!” Be silly—turn it into a game! Who can sweep the biggest pile?

Remember that your child really just wants to be with you.

He would often rather clean with you than play by himself while you rush around trying to get everything done. He just may need a little help to get started.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

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Hands-Free Pumping Bra

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Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

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Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

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If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

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Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

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Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

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Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

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Washable Breast Pads

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This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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