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Both of my children have always been eager to help me with the household chores from a very early age, usually because I crank up the music and sing/dance like a loon whilst we do it. My husband is an equal partner in household chores and childcare when he is here (and he can bake the best chocolate cakes in the world), but because he travels so much my children mostly see me doing the bulk of the housework. I don't want my children thinking that taking care of the house is a woman's job, especially when they move out and live by themselves. Most children's books show a mummy cleaning and I wanted to redress the balance a little. So I was delighted when I found this little book from Childsplay which shows a man and his toddler working together and having fun cleaning the house. At £2.99 including delivery from Amazon its hardly going to break the bank and it has proved a lovely and popular addition to our shelves.
This small board book has 12 pages, 14 if you include the front and back cover which are actually part of the story. It has no words just lovely colourful pictures of the daddy and the toddler working together and having fun whilst doing lots of different chores. The front cover shows them getting ready with broom and hoover, then they throw the toys into the toy box, polish the furniture, hoover the floor and furniture, wash up and put away the dishes, sweep up outside, clean the bathroom, clean the shoes, load the washing machine, hang the washing, do the ironing (don't worry the little boy just folds the clothes!) and finally sit at the kitchen table with a jug of squash, clinking their glasses in celebration.
I automatically assumed that the toddler was a boy, but there is no reason to think this is the case, my daughter owned a similar outfit as a child and there is a doll amongst the scattered toys. The adult figure could also be a short-haired female. The child does look very much like my own son though, so he has really connected with the character and loves this book. Both of the characters are laughing and smiling throughout the story and its clear that they are making the chores fun. Since owning this book my son has been noticeably more eager to participate and it has given me some more ideas about how to make things more fun. Yesterday I gave my little boy a damp cloth and he and his sister competed to see who could clean marks off the kitchen cabinets the fastest, whilst I washed up.
Its also a good way to introduce children to dangers in the home. Throughout the dad is with his child so we make it clear that they are not to do any of these things without a parent present (for the moment, by the time they hit their teens I won't be following them around!). The book has also been another good way of teaching about vacuum cleaners and how they mustn't put the ends in their mouths, as well as showing my little boy that they aren't terrifying noisy monsters. In fact his vacuum phobia disappeared within a week of getting this book. When they are washing up it's a good opportunity to talk about hot and cold water and when the dad leaves the bathroom spray and washing powder on the floor my son will point at it and shout 'DANGER! NO TOUCH!'.
The only negative picture is the ironing one. This is not just because I loathe ironing and do it as rarely as I can, but because the little boy is standing far too close and in front of the ironing board. When I do my yearly ironing I would rather do it when the children are in bed, just in case. My son shouts 'NO! HOT!' when he sees the iron (after he has asked what it is!) but I'd rather not take the risk on that one.
Overall I would thoroughly recommend this book for introducing a child to the joys of housework (ha!), the important of teamwork and also for discussing some of the dangers in the home. The fact that one or both of the characters are male is also useful for showing that housework is not (and should not be) the sole preserve of the female members of the household.