Into everyone’s life, a little IKEA must come. For some, it’s earlier than for others.
My design for matching loft beds for the kids required the use of four of these Alex units from IKEA. Immensely useful, but kind of a pain to put together, what with approximately 18,746 screws.
Whether they were bored or actually wanted to learn a life-essential skill (I like to think that it was the latter), they both asked if they could help. It started with The Boy (who has always shown a bit more interest in tools than The Girl, even though she’s had her own real tool set* since the age of two). He asked if he could help screwing. Then The Girl saw how much fun it was (apparently) and requested a screwdriver too.
I asked if they were sure, because there was going to be a lot of the same motion, over and over again, for a seemingly long time, and I wouldn’t accept that they start a job, then abandon it. They agreed to the terms.
And they stuck with it. Right down to the last screw. It was really helpful, because it cut down on our work time significantly.
When it’s voluntary, it’s a good kind of child labour.
* An aside note: If you parents are thinking of buying a play set of tools for your children, consider buying them real tools (lighter and less sharp/dangerous than the real things, but still functional) rather than the plastic play pieces. Your kids will really develop motor and tool-using skills (which will help you later in IKEA days), and will actually want to use them, rather than just “play”. We can’t remember where we bought ours, but this one looks just right.