Written by Brian Gresko for Babble.com
Why do people have kids?
Sure, it's fun making them. And you feel all warm and gushy looking at their little faces, especially when they're laughing or cuddling up next to you on the couch. But let's get real: parenting ain't easy, and kids can be a drag. Aside from them being like, "me, me, me!" much of the time, there's also the diaper-changing, sleep-depriving, and romance-dulling side of childrearing. That stuff takes years off your life. So why does humanity do it?
Beyond the genetic imperative, kids can contribute to their family's life and wellbeing. Nowadays, we think of childhood as a time for playing and learning, but back then, it used to be all about work. I'm not talking about little Victorian kids running into the gears of industrial machines for repair jobs. No, I mean even further back in time, when kids helped with the hunting, farming, cleaning, and general work of survival. The more hands a family had meant that big chores could be broken down into easy smaller tasks, freeing mom and dad to take the supervisory, white-collar managerial kind of positions.
The same holds true today, just in a slightly less physically demanding way (sometimes). Kids mean less work, which makes a powerful argument to have them despite their pitfalls. When I'm having a bad day on dad duty, I like to think of all the time-saving, work-reducing, positive ways my 4-year-old son Felix makes my life just a little bit easier. These are the reasons people really have children, the reasons that make it all worthwhile:
1. Vacuuming in Small Spaces
Who wants to vacuum in the cracks, corners, nooks, and crannies around the house? Not I. Give Felix the "magic vacuum wand" though, and suddenly it's a game. Suck up the dust! He'll take a damp rag and crawl around the floor cleaning the molding too. What's boring to us is a game to the little ones.
2. Washing Dishes
Fill up a bucket with suds, give the kid a sponge, and watch him go to town! This is one of Felix's favorite activities before dinner. With half-an-eye on the stovetop and half on my smartphone, I enjoy a glass of wine while Felix knocks some dishes out. It's a win-win!
3. Watering the Garden
Spilling water on the floor is a no-no, so if you allow your children to spill water on the plants it feels like they're getting away with something! Felix waters the plants best in the morning, when I'm able to put my feet up, sip my coffee, and direct him to the flowers that feel the most thirsty. To him, it's a scavenger hunt. To me, it's a perfectly relaxed way to start the day.
4. Keeping You Trim
Who needs chips, cookies, candy, or cheddar-flavored carbohydrates around? And ice cream? Fahgettaboudit. Simply unleash your toddler in the kitchen and say goodbye to snacking temptation!
5. Making Drinks
This one requires a little supervision, because I find Felix makes my Manhattans with too much Rye--the kid's got a heavy hand! Given a little advice, though, even a three-year-old can mix a mean martini, and they'll shake that thing till it's ice cold. Might as well have them make one for themselves while they're at it. I'm kidding. No drinking allowed at least until they're thirteen.
6. Helping with Groceries
"Bet you can't go into the freezer and pick out a bag of peas? You can, great! Now go to the baking aisle and grab a sack of flour." Really, the only limitation to this game is your child's height. Bonus points go to industrious kids who climb the shelves!
7. Fetching Beers from the Fridge
Gone are the days of snagging two beers in one trip, so as to avoid having to get up again fifteen minutes later. Now, I just ask Felix to run 'em back to me. Think of all the skills he's building: opening the fridge, locating a cold can or bottle, and carrying it back carefully so as not to agitate the precious brew. He'll be college-ready in no time!