mother’s little helper: not a bad idea

This morning my daughter Maggie was at my side by 6:30 a.m. Usually she climbs into bed next to me for a few glorious minutes of snuggling. But no such moss would gather on my preschooler this morning.

“Mommy!” she stage whispered in my ear. “Guess what my job at school is today?”

(As of last week, every preschooler in Maggie’s class had a JOB, on the JOB CHART, and this was big news. Someone would be “line leader.” Someone else, “line ender.” Someone else, “weather reporter.” You know, all the heavy duty stuff.)

“Are you… door holder?” I asked, rubbing my eyes.

“No!” she answered, beaming. “I’m Teacher’s Helper!”

Teacher’s Helper, as Maggie’s teacher explained to all the parents on Back-to-School Night, was a new job for this school year. “We used to have ‘Day Off’ on the job chart,” she explained, “but whoever had a day off was always devastated. So this year we’ve added ‘Teacher’s Helper,’ and we’ll find something or other for that person to do.”

But while Teacher’s Helper started out as an afterhought, it has apparently been quite easy for the teacher to kept the designee quite busy. While Maggie was beyond excited to wear the Teacher’s Helper mantle for the day, she was also a little stressed about what lay before her. “Daddy is going to work,” she explained, watching him shave, “and I, am also going to work today, I will be doing a lot of jobs.” She chose her outfit accordingly (sneakers and leggings, very movement-friendly), as opposed to the usual high-tea ensembles she usually prefers. She broke into a run as soon as we reached the end of the school hallway, hurrying in to her class, not wanting to miss a moment of glue-stick-rearranging or chair-pushing-in-after-snack-time that awaited her.

Compare this, if you will, to the boneless flopping around all my children do whenever I suggest a task, such as taking a bath, putting a glass in the dishwasher, or picking up their own coats off the floor.  “Oh my GOD!” Connor cries, unable to bear the workload another moment. “Why can’t everyone just leave me ALONE!” Maggie hasn’t gotten that histrionic yet, but she does have the eye-roll mastered quite well for someone who cannot yet write her name.  And Seamus just ignores me entirely, which seems to be working quite well for him, actually.

I have recently seen the wondrous effects of list-posting on my children’s cooperativeness. I’m thinking it’s time to up the ante and create a Job Chart. Here are a few rotations I’m considering:

  • Shoe Liner-Upper (the bench in our hallway has about 10 pairs per person)
  • Backpack-Bullshit-from-School-Unpacker
  • Figure-Out-What’s-For-Dinner-er
  • Alternative-to-Postprandial-Wrestling-Planner

and, not at all as an afterthought,

  • Mommy’s Little Helper,

who will just follow me around and do whatever I say.

Any chance this will work half as well as when a pretty preschool teacher suggests it?


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharilbrooks November 15, 2011 at 11:19 am

Nothing ever works as well when parents are involved. I feel like when I am a part of something it automatically gives my kids the license to whine, negotiate, and annoy. When skiing with me my daughter cried the whole time because it was cold. With the instructor, nada. With the babysitter the room gets cleaned. For me, nada, the clothes are still strewn all over he floor. At my daughter’s school the highly-sought-after job is “problem solver!”. When two kids are having an altercation, the problem solver steps in and they try to work it out amongst themselves without running to the teacher. Um, would tryst change all our lives if our kids mimicked this job responsibly at home? Certainly a lit less grey hair…


Katy @ ExperiencedBadMom November 15, 2011 at 4:01 pm

I love “Backpack-Bullshit-from-School-Unpacker”! What is half the crap they send home anyway? I’d like to get some reverse psychology going and propose jobs my two would be so pleased to perform like “First-In-Bed-Asleep-er” and “Fish-Bowl-Water-Changer-Without-Spilling-Everywhere-er”.


RuthMcLenaghan November 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm

We have a job wheel like we used to at summer camp. There is a spot in the center for each kid, and one for “mom and dad”. The jobs are around the outside, and we turn it every Sunday night. Each name covers/gets 2 jobs, and because I was so tired of arguing about whose turn it was to do something, you get the job for the whole week. Mic you’re “unload the dishwasher guy”, then every time it has to be unloaded that week you get to do it. Some weeks are heavy, others light – just like life. The jobs are:
1) load dishwasher
2) unload dishwasher
3) empty garbage cans (includes dragging big cans down to the curb on garbage day and dragging cans back up)
4) get the mail
5) yard work
6) free
7) laundry helper (dump all upstairs hampers over the bannister onto the landing, then carry it into the laundry room hamper)
8) runner – this one is my favorite – the runner’s job is to go get me whatever I need from wherever it is in the house and bring it to me wherever I am – this job came in particularly handy last year when I broke my foot, when I announced, “this week everyone is the runner”


Maria November 17, 2011 at 7:29 pm

So funny…my preschooler has a “job” every other day and I do think they miss having one on their “days off.”  Our preschool calls the line ender the caboose.  I thought that was pretty clever.  However, I’m confused about how they figure out who is at the end of the line seeing as how they also have a light-turner-off-er and a door holder!  I’ve been meaning to start a bedtime list modeled after your previous post because I related so much to your struggles with the routine items.  Keep the good ideas coming! 🙂


Ladygoogoogaga November 21, 2011 at 4:09 am

Sad but true….


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