Recently I was reviewing my year’s posts on Facebook. One of the things I’d written was during Christmastime, and it said, “I never want to ask my children to do another chore again. I can’t handle the whining and complaining, so I think I’ll sell all of their Christmas gifts and hire a maid.”
That post got me thinking. How many times have I thought it would be easier to just “hire a maid,” than to take the time and teach my children how to work, and how to do a job the right way so that it didn’t have to be done over again and again? When my children were young, I gave them chores according to their age. When my girls were three, I’d ask them to empty the dishwasher of all the plates and cups and bowls and I would put them away. I’d also ask them to make their beds and showed them how to do it. I’d ask them to set the table, or pour drinks in the glasses for our meal times. As they got older, the chores got a bit more difficult. I’d ask them to mop the floor or clean a bathroom. By the time they were nine, they were doing their own laundry. It took me standing by them a few times and teaching them how to sort clothing by color and how much laundry detergent to put in, but they learned. They had a better attitude about doing their laundry when they were doing it. They learned if they didn’t do their laundry, they would have no clean clothing to wear, and if they didn’t dry their clothes and fold them right after and put them away, their clothing would look wrinkled and unkempt.
Were there ever times when my children would complain? Yes. But most of the time they took pride in the fact that they were being involved in family activities. Work in and around the home is a family activity. It was something expected of me when I was a girl, and something I expected of my own children when they became old enough. Do I think it’s inhumane to expect children to do chores in their own home? I do not.
To emphasize this point, I will give an example. My second daughter was one of the biggest complainers when it came to doing chores. We would find ourselves laughing at the excuses she would use to get out of doing the simplest of chores. However, today, she is one of the hardest workers in our home. She started a job last February steaming and ironing clothing in a high priced dress shop. Because she worked so hard, had a good attitude, and did such a good job, she was promoted within one month to be a sales associate. She became so popular, that customers asked for her when they were making dress appointments. I believe all of her success at work stems from the fact that she learned to work and help around the house at a young age.
Helping our children to stay on task can sometimes be draining. There have been times when my husband and I have thought, “Oh, it’s just easier if I do this myself and let them off the hook for doing their chores today.” We have not been impressed with the outcome of this attitude. Our younger son in particular starts to get a very entitled attitude and starts expecting that everything should be done for him. On Saturday, a major chore day here in our home, I had asked him to do three very specific chores, one of which was to clean up a disastrous looking bathroom that he shares with his brother. Instead of doing that, he went to play with a friend, and as he left, told my husband that his chores were finished. I found my husband weeding in the yard and told him that our son had not finished his chores. Even though my husband was tired, he drove over and picked up our son, and brought him back home so that he could finish the chores he was expected to do. We’ve had to do that a few times with him, actually with all of our children, but it sets a precedent: if I don’t do my chores, Mom and Dad will not let me play with friends until I’ve done them, so I’d better do them.
Set a precedent with your children. Ask them to help you around the home. Expect it. If they are not aware of the work and responsibility it takes to run a home, how will they know how to do it when they are no longer living at home with you?