If we are raising world changers, then we are raising kids who will live responsible lives. They will be able to care for themselves personally and take care of a household. For our kids to be independent and able to function fully in looking after a home, they will need to keep increasing their skill level. I don’t want to get to the time when my daughter is leaving home and in a panic have to teach her how to look after the home.
A friend of mine is about to have her fourth baby and her daughter aged ten is able to cook and manage the household cleaning. She can cook well enough to make all their meals. This mother has taught her daughter as well as allowing her daughter freedom in the kitchen to experiment within reason.
I have stated before that we don’t pay pocket money for chores. We personally believe that doing chores around the home is every family member’s responsibility. Hubby and I do not get paid for doing chores around the home. Why then should I pay my children for unloading the dishwasher or taking out the garbage?
As our children get older, it is only appropriate that their responsibilities can increase. At the beginning of last year, one of my goals for the children (Princess then 9 and Matey then aged 7) was for them to be able to do all the clothes washing, hang out the clothes, bring them in, sort them and do basic ironing. This did not happen overnight. As the year got underway, I gradually showed them how to do more and more. To enable Matey to reach the line, I needed to put some steps near the line so he could reach. When we were busy as a family with the ‘Books 4 Cambodia’ project, Princess hung out the washing every day and brought it in as just another daily event that she did. It became such a part of her life that even this morning when I quickly went outside to hang out the washing before we went grocery shopping, Princess got dressed and just automatically came out and helped me hang it out without me saying anything.
The ironing part didn’t quite work out as I hoped. Princess burnt herself the first time as I forgot to lower the ironing board to her level and she found it hard. She hasn’t wanted to touch it again whereas I found Matey the other day ironing his jeans and T-shirt that he wanted to wear.
Thus, since we now have the total washing clothes (apart from ironing) being able to be done by the kids, we are now reassessing what new responsibilities they need to grow in this year. Princess loves cooking cakes, biscuits and desserts but hasn’t yet done any main meals. That is her new area this year that we want her to grow in. By the end of this year, I would like for her to be able to cook at least 5 different main meals on her own plus be responsible one evening per week for cooking the meal. She will also still be responsible for other chores along with Matey.
We have never had a chore chart. We just all get in and help on clean up days plus we naturally do certain jobs eg the kids do most of the washing and wiping the dishes whilst I do most of the ironing. Sometimes I find it easy to just wash up dishes at breakfast whilst waiting for my coffee to boil. We don’t have any hard rules. We are a family and that means that we consider each other and all put in for it to function properly.
Matey was wiping the dishes last night and commented that he can’t wait until he is grown up, gets married, has children and they are at least five years old and then they can do all the washing and wiping up.
When we were in Mozambique several years ago, the children at the Children’s Centre washed their bed sheets and clothes by hand every Saturday morning, even the six year old boys. I was flabbergasted at the time, but it was a necessity and they could do it. It made me realise that my kids too could do a lot more than I thought and contribute to the household in more creative ways.
Have you ever written a list of all the chores and household jobs? I found this quite interesting to do. I included weekly grocery shopping, gutter cleaning, washing windows, oven cleaning and those jobs that are only done occasionally. If I am to have my children be able to perform all these jobs competently by age 18, then I don’t want to leave it until they are 17 years old. I am gradually increasing the responsibilities each year.
What are your thoughts on this?