Hanging out the washing with four little helpers
There aren’t many dull moments for Brisbane mother Helen whose daily routine revolves around caring for one year old twins, a three and a five year old.
Making separate time to talk, play, sing, read every day isn’t always realistic, so Helen seizes every opportunity to build interaction into her daily tasks and activities.
Here’s her account of hanging out the washing with four young children. It takes a little extra time to complete the job, but it’s more fun and the children get a lot out of it.
We have a simple kid-size clothes line next to ours and my five year old has been hanging her own washing there for years.
She loves talking about the colours of clothes and we use these conversations to add new words to her vocabulary. We’ll try for example to think of as many shades and different names for purple.
For my three-year-old, I can keep him busy for a while just with the pegs. Some of the activities that work well with him include:
- Following instructions – find three blue pegs
- Counting pegs and clothes. Towards the end we count down what’s left in the basket. Four more left… now there’s three left etc
- Set a challenge – how quickly can you find five white pegs?
- Sorting and group games – finding all of the socks can be a challenge!
He also likes talking about the characters on his clothes. We can then talk about the story that goes with them. Can you remember what Thomas did after the logs fell off the carriage?
Another game we play is taking turns to guess who a piece of clothing belongs to as I hang them up. Sometimes we turn this into a race to guess and the children get very excited when it’s a competition.
For the babies, I always have one in the swing which is right next to my clothes line. The placement is perfect for interaction as they’re at eye level with me. I place pegs on the ropes of the swing for them to touch and experiment with. Eventually they’ll learn how to get them off. Another activity we do is peek-a-boo with clothes.
As all parents know, it doesn’t always go to plan but involving the kids certainly makes it more fun.
Include your kids in your everyday activities and for more ideas, head along to your local library and benefit from the free activities and programs designed to help you make the most of the first five years.