I do not consider myself a 'natural' parent. I don't trust my instincts, although when I have heard all of the angles, I do trust my own common sense. That being said, I am always ready and willing to hear another Mom's perspective on how they do things, and I am also willing to admit that I may not be doing things very well myself.
A couple of weeks ago, we had friends over for supper and I was trying to get a few dishes done before we started dessert. The Moms were in the kitchen chatting and I can't remember where the Dads were - we were being very 'Mennonite'* in our interaction, I guess.
While I was trying to get this done, my daughter started throwing a bit of a tantrum and I recall voicing my frustration at how sometimes I'm at a loss as to how to deal with her. She throws tantrums when she NEEDS nothing! My friend very kindly said 'Have you ever thought of getting her to help?'.
I said 'Do the dishes?'
My friend said 'Yes'.
I said 'She's not even 18 months old...'
At this point, my friend suggested I pull a chair up to the sink and just let her play in the rinse water.
My daughter was ecstatic. She had the time of her life splashing in the rinse water and 'helping'. It was great.
So it started a journey for me of discovering how to get Clara involved as much as possible. I've discovered that she is not only fascinated by the prospect of helping out, she's also not too bad at it - for an 18 month old, anyway :)
Here's my proud little fuzz-head helping me with dishes. The easiest thing to get her to do is to put cutlery away. She mostly just piles it into the drawer all helter-skelter, but it thrills her to do it.
Please don't look at how gross my kitchen is...