(I don't know why I didn't post this one, either. It was written in April, while Jörn was in Germany. Maybe I was planning to take an oh-so-exciting photo of the drying racks?)
Quite a few years ago we went to our first homeschool conference in Germany, when Marie was only three, and we only had two children. I found it very interesting listening to talks by a woman who had six children. (SIX children!! Can you imagine?!), and she must have been a very good speaker, because I still remember several things she said.
One that I recall regularly is about children and "helping." She said that the first about seven years are pretty difficult. It's important to let them "help" around the house so that they learn how to do things, but it's really a lot more work than not having them help. From seven to 14, the work they create and the work they take over are about even. And as of age 14, "pay-back time!" were her exact words. I don't even have a 14-year-old yet, but my two oldest are definitely already in the category of relieving more work than they create (in some areas, anyway...) Lukas is pretty solidly in the middle category, and I agree that Katie and Helen are in the "first seven years category."
Elisabeth generally is too, but a few days ago, she helped me with the laundry! The camera in in Germany at the moment, so I can't take a photo, but we have three big drying racks as well as a small green thing with clothespins hanging from it where I hang washcloths and underwear. That hangs from one of the big drying racks, quite low to the ground. So I sat down on a chair, with Elisabeth on my lap and the basket of laundry on the ground, and started to hang things up. Elisabeth soon struggled to get down, so I set her down and kept hanging up laundry, and then Elisabeth started handing me pieces, one at a time! I thanked her for each one and she had a huge grin on her face the whole time. And she was actually handing them to me so fast, that it WAS a help, that I got the laundry hung up faster than if I'd been doing it on my own!