Thanksgiving is a big deal. Not just for grown-ups, but also for the kids in the family who will carry these memories and traditions with them into adulthood. It’s the stuff that Norman Rockwell paintings are made of, but it's a lot of work behind the scenes to get to the point of gathering at a picturesque table with a bounty of beautiful food.
For a big family event, such as Thanksgiving, kids should at some point move on from being bystanders to contributing toward this large family task. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, keys to helping your child be motivated to do chores or help with household responsibilities include carefully spelling out the task, offering praise and having routines.
There are a lot of fun aspects of the day that kids can get involved with and when a big meal and time with extended family are the payout, it’s a little easier to urge kids to vacuum or clean their room before guests arrive.
Kids also may respond well when they can choose among a list of tasks that need to be completed. A child who will procrastinate and complain about cleaning the bathroom may enjoy loading the dishwasher, sweeping or baking a pie.
1. CHORES — Make a list of chores that need to be done in preparation for the day and let kids select a few items from the list. There will be less arguing over chores if kids have a say in which ones they will do.
2. TALENTS — Utilize their talents as part of the day. Do you have a child who is a talented artist? Let them make a mural to hang for the event or design placemats. If your child plays an instrument, let them entertain guests with music as they arrive. Is there a budding photographer in the family? Let them document the day by taking photos of everyone.
3. RECIPES — Pick a kid-friendly recipe to work on together to be served on Thanksgiving. This may be something to do a day or two before when you’re not so rushed and things aren’t so hectic. Let kids measure or mix to prepare a pie or chop up vegetables for a casserole. Supervise, but let them do as much on their own as possible. They’ll be proud to serve a dish they’ve had a hand in preparing, and they’ll be more likely to eat it.
4. DECOR — Give them free reign over the kids’ table. Many families still gather with extended family where there’s not room for everyone at the big table. Plan ahead for a kids’ table and let your little one use their creativity to decorate and create a centerpiece. Shop for some colorful plastic plates, utensils, cups and napkins and give them input into a special dish or appetizer that is for the kids only.
5. HOSTING — Let them play host or hostess. Assign your child to be the greeter as guests arrive and to take coats. They may even want to make place cards for the table and help everyone find their seats. It is something fun that helps with social skills and will free you up to tend to other important parts of the day.