Do Your Kids Have Chores? (Why The Hell Not?!)
If you’re a longtime SV reader/listener you know I’m a mom. I have an almost 11 year old and an almost 16 year old (if you have almost-anything kids, you know the ‘almost’ has to be recognized); 5th and 9th graders, respectively.
They’re good kids- gremlins at time, but hey, no kid is perfect. I’m lucky and I know it.
My job- as I see it- above and beyond loving and providing for my kids, is to teach them how to be in the world, and teach them how to take care of themselves.
Good habits start early, far as I can tell, and when you make adjustments based on age appropriateness, you can teach your kids to do anything starting fairly young.
Example: we have chores in my house. Firstly, I work full time to provide the home we have. I work to keep it nice. What I don’t do, and will not do, is be the unpaid maid, too.
I don’t pick up after children. I don’t clean their rooms, or pickup their toys and shoes and jackets and backpacks and general knick knacks left all over the house. That’s their job.
In addition to taking care of their own stuff, they load and unload the dishwasher (I do the scrub/soak first), keep their bathroom presentable, vacuum the common areas of the house (living room, hall), fold and put away their own laundry (I sort and wash) and clean up after their pets.
They aren’t slaves.
They aren’t required to do physical labor beyond their physical abilities. I don’t demand a spotless house and I don’t freak out when messes are made. Their chores are their responsibilities to the home we all share. Simple as that.
I am forever appalled when I hear stories about kids with zero chores. Their parents or aunts n’ uncles or grandparents do all of that work for them.
Toddlers can pick up their toys and put them away. Certainly 6 and 7 year olds can. For the love of Pete, kids 11 and older should be doing chores.
Selfishly, it helps take the load of the parents, but as I said above, most importantly it gives kids an opportunity to learn how to do things properly and to take responsibility for their share. If you think your kids don’t have a share of the work, you’re failing.
I’m gonna sound old here, but it’s in the spirit of taking one for the team, so you can thank me later: kids these days are spoiled. They have no sense of community or family responsibility. They expect everything to be done for them. They see no need to earn anything, because everything they want is handed to them.
Your kids should have chores. They should be learning how to care for and keep a home, because (hopefully) they aren’t going to live with you for the rest of their lives. To develop habits, kids have to have habits. They need to have a chore schedule. Parents needs to be consistent in making sure chores are getting done. Additionally, it’s a learning process for them. Trust me, they’re going to make mistakes. They’re going to forget a step here or there (which will drastically alter the state of, oh say, the color of your laundry). You’re job is to be their guide in the learning process.
If you’re kids aren’t doing chores, you need to develop a plan so they can begin. Repeat after me: I am not the maid.