Let Them Serve Themselves

Marie at Make and Takes posted last week about ways that she encourages independence in her kids.  I'll admit that I sometimes have to let go of my clean-house-hangups, but I try to give my little ones age-appropriate opportunities to serve themselves rather than continuing to depend on me for, well, everything!  As they've gotten older and had practice with the tasks I provide we've had fewer messes, less spillage, and, honestly, a bit less work for me!  A few of my favorites:
  • I keep a portion of milk in pint-sized plastic bottle that the kids can easily get out of the fridge themselves.  They can pour a cup or add it to cereal without risk of spilling (too much).
  • Our set of condiment cups has come in handy for allowing the kids to serve themselves, well, condiments!  Enough brown sugar or raisins fits perfectly and the children can add it to their oatmeal without contaminating the entire jar.  They're also handy for enough peanut butter to spread on crackers, or ketchup for a few fries. 
  • Daisy loves to help in the kitchen and I give her whatever tasks she can handle.  She uses her little chopper to help cut veggies for stew or fruit for salad, and is great at measuring.  It may not all make it in the bowl, but in another couple of years she'll be well-prepared to cook with just a bit of supervision. 
  • We all have jobs in the house, and each 'older' child is responsible for putting the childrens' dishes away, putting their own dishes in the sink after meals, and bringing their laundry basket to the laundry area.  Oh, and they love to clean the toilet (it's right at their level!). 
How do you encourage your children's independence?  Do you have specific chores that they're required to help with?  (I can always use a bit more help around the house :)
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