Very young children can help put away toys. And when they're 5 or 6 they're actually helpful! That means when they're 1, 2, 3, or 4 they aren't very helpful but think they are. And so you want to make sure you keep the delusion going by affirming their efforts!
I am certain I'm not the only parent that once thought, "Ugh. It would be easier if I just did it myself!" Although that's certainly true, you want to keep a team spirit going by saying things like, "That's teamwork for ya!" and "Good job, Joey! Let's keep doing this! We're almost done!" Chores should be a regular habit... not something you ask of your kids when you're in the mood or when company is coming. They should be doing their chores every single day. Habits are best learned when children are very young. And although it takes much longer to coach and supervise the work it ends up a blessing in the long run when your teenager offers to do the dishes without being told!
Here's a list of ideas that worked for us:
* Keep a small bowl handy and every time you see good work happening you drop a marble in the bowl. When it's full the child gets something special (go out for ice cream, breakfast out with daddy, etc.) Remember - children learn by reward!
* Play "Mary and Martha". Tell the kids the story of Jesus' friends named Mary and Martha. Martha was the woman who worked hard preparing the meal and cleaning the house while her sister Mary sat at Jesus' feet listening to him. Call out "Martha!" and the children scramble to put away the toys. Call out "Mary!" and the children sit down and listen to Jesus for a moment. Then call out "Martha!" again and the kids scramble to clean, etc. (This worked great until my daughter had a friend visiting and the two of them trashed the bedroom just so they could play "Mary and Martha".)
* Draw sticks. With a marker write one chore on a stick. Have enough sticks for all the kids. The kids take turns drawing sticks and reading what the chore is they must tackle. We did this with after-supper chores (clear table, load dishwasher, wash dishes, wipe counter and table, etc.). Everyone around the table had to draw a stick. We even had a stick that said, "Help Anna" who was the youngest and too little to put dishes away, etc. Whoever drew that stick had to help her with whatever job she picked, and if Anna drew the "Help Anna" stick she could help anyone of her choice. We did this everyday and it was a routine.
I'm sure you have brilliant ideas that have worked for you! Please share your ideas!
And now for a refashion...
I had seen a dress in a magazine that I thought I could make with my scraps. I cut out 2 rectangles and cut 1 foot length lines from the bottom edge, with the plan to sew godets (triangular contrasting pieces that flair out) inside each slit. By the time I was done it looked hideous. So I made a refashion out of my refashion....
I cut off the bottom (godets and all) and made a top. It is sort of a peasant style. Sometimes things don't quite work out the way you expect! But I was pleased with the final result.