We try to make it a point to get Little Smith to contribute and help whenever possible, both with larger projects as well as simple daily chores. It is true that often little hands make tasks take twice as long, but I'm convinced that it's also the only way to get anything done when you are tethered to a couple of kids all day. He is generally very excited to pitch in and asks at least once a day, 'mama, can I help you?', and so I have been making extra efforts to find specific ways of engaging him in the day's work.
One of our favorite rituals has become the weekly grocery list. I take my grocery shopping seriously (some people like shoes or clothes, I like food), and that means hitting up two large chain stores plus a mix of smaller farmer's markets. It's a lot to ask from a three year old, but I have found that putting him in charge of finding a handful of items does wonders for holding his interest. I started making him his own list so he could track his groceries, and he loved it so much that over time I began to add quick drawings and now alphabet letters.
It's so simple and quick but makes this basic chore into a much more interactive experience for Little Smith, and I suspect that we will continue to adapt these lists as his interests and learning goals change. Hopefully we will be sending him to the garden to check off a few of these items pretty soon too, but I suppose before we can pick, we do need to plant!
* You will notice the baby is doing her part to ensure a smooth shopping trip by soundly sleeping. That's the way I have been planning it for months now, and I'm really dreading the fast approaching end of the bucket car seat. I see shorter shopping excursions on the horizon, sigh.