11.18.2010

Sewing with children and the usefulness of a child...

What does that mean? When I first became a mother that might have meant not very useful. I've found that our children, as limited as they may be, are really very capable of being helpful and useful. Don't believe me? Try for a week to train a little one to do something you think they can't do. Chances are at the end of the week they'll be better at it than you thought. I did mention the word "train", I know "sigh".  But let me encourage you dear mother that the time put into the training will be worth it.
A hundred years ago a 3-4 year old little girl could go right on over pick up a sewing basket carefully and bring it to mama without spilling it, then begin to help with the mending. At such a young age?! The practicality of it was 2 fold. They needed to learn young so their skills were fine tuned enough as older children to help with real important sewing, like clothing for the family. Secondly, the older children had chores more pressing than the "mundane" work of mending.  Most blessed of all was that those little hands were learning a skill, keeping busy not getting into mischief, and they felt useful because they were useful and everyone needs to feel useful.

How do you feel when you're stuck in bed, sick or laid up. Pretty frustrated I'm sure. I've been there and I know that having something useful I can do, ANYTHING, makes me feel better. I know from watching my littlest ones that they feel the same way. They don't care if they're wiping the door nobs on cupboards or sweeping up a pile of dust, they are helping and THEY LOVE IT. The smile and sense of pride that comes over them when they feel helpful is amazing. Thankfully, I caught on to this concept early and my children do help a lot! The older ones do "real" chores. But my 3 year old puts away silverware, clears the meal table, folds washcloths, helps with cooking and even helps wash and dry laundry. It takes her 2 long minutes to climb the basket to reach the dryer button and turn it on, but she doesn't care, she's helping. And besides I don't get to see her beautiful smile when I push the button myself! Don't forget the babies! My 14 month old wipes her face, and if left alone with a washcloth, she'll wash the table too! She may not do it "right" but we cheer her on and clap for her anyway, because we're building her up. Soon her time to help will be here and she'll be happy to do it because of the joy she brings to others.

So here's my challenge to you, find a mundane chore, that can be done right or not and give it to the little ones! Let them have at it, teach a little, laugh a little and smile A LOT mama because you're teaching that little one to be a helpful contribution to the family.
A word of warning though, focus on their strengths, not your needs! A happy sweeper is much more useful than a discouraged duster! If a certain job is particularly challenging or boring to your child, find something they enjoy that you can encourage them in and continue building them up.

Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded. 2 Chronicles 15:7 KJV

If you're interested in teaching a little one to sew, here is some great information: Preschool Sewing Activities , Easy Hand Sewing For Kids  (at sew mama sew, I love this site!), and a Free Hand Sewing Stitch Guide. We started Hannah with lacing beads, and sometimes I poke the needle into my quilt and let her pull the thread through. When she's older I'll start her on dolls, perhaps she'll bless other children with them, or even explore entrepreneurship. My boys got to participate in a recent quilted pot holder class at our church. They loved it and with a little help they had a neat gift for their gramma's! My husband is a great sewer and is very helpful, so they naturally don't have qualms about sewing. It's a useful skill for men and women alike!
This is my oldest son making a doll skirt for his sister!
 Thanks for reading! and feel free to comment on what your children to do help! Blessings!

4 comments:

  1. I love this post! our 3 1/2 year old and 2 years old daughter are able to do a load of laundry all by themselves, they do it like a team, one is standing on a stool the other give clothes to put in the wash etc all to putting clean clothes away on the shelf, they do the same with the dishwasher and setting the table.

    It's amazing how much they can do :-)

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  2. Well done Staci, I do whole-heartedly agree! It is a very hard thing for a perfectionist to learn to accept "ok" as good enough but it IS SOO worth it when you can sit down and the work still goes on!

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  3. If only I had practiced when my big kids were younger - as in so many things it is easier to learn when you are young. Great job mom!!

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