It’s not fair, they wail – but how many chores should your child do?
My children are convinced that I make them do too much around the house, but I don’t think so.
We all want kids who grow up to be able to look after themselves and those around them. I imagine a day when my sons have their own homes that they keep clean and tidy, but it does seem an awfully long way off.
At the moment, without my nagging, no chores would get done. Dishes would fester, clothes remain where they were dropped and floors would become invisible due to scattered debris.
I could, of course, just do it myself. However, while I might have things a little tidier, I’d be resentful at doing the work myself and the kids wouldn’t have learned anything. (Except maybe to stay away from mum when she’s cleared up other people’s mess... again.)
Getting them to do it is vital
So it seems essential that my sons help out with the chores so they learn how it’s done and to preserve my sanity. As the only woman in a male-dominated household, I also think it’s vital that no one gets any tricky notions about certain things being women’s work.
But what can I reasonably expect them to do and is it fair to have them do some jobs just because I don’t want to?
On Twitter, @allimarshall said: “Mine have to help unload dishwasher, hang their clothes up & keep their rooms tidy. The nearly teen has to do hoovering in addition.”
Kerry from Botha Bunch said: “My oldest is only three but she already makes her bed, tidies her room and helps with the dishwasher. She also loves to help with the hoovering and attempts to fold clothes. I think it depends on the child but I think there should definitely be at least one chore a day (even if it is only making a bed or packing her clothes away).”
Hayley from Mum’s World xxx said: “My eldest daughter, six, makes her own bed and helps with the dishes sometimes and also the laundry. She also has to tidy her own room every Saturday morning. My middle child, three, loves to help with the dishes and she has to pick her own toys up.”
Holly of Rurbanism.com said: “I’ve only just cottoned on to this, I wish I had sooner! My 10-year-old and eight-year-old empty and load the dishwasher (except for sharp knives) and put their own clothes away. All three (my youngest is three) tidy their own rooms – with mixed success – and I get them to help feed the various pets. I think it’s really important for getting chores done to be a part of their routine – if only for the sake of their future partners!”
Is nagging the only option?
So far so good. However, in my house, a polite request for help with the chores is often met with protest or selective deafness. It’s often more work to get the help then it would be to do the job myself.
Jackie from Agenthood and Submissionville said: “This is a tricky one. My children are 12 and 11 and it’s the thing I’ve got most wrong so far. They are absolute sweethearts, very giving, loving, good fun but RUBBISH at helping. I should have been more insistent when they were little (so heed my advice, folks!) but there was always something more pressing to do. Mine do empty the dishwasher, put clothes away, hoover and cook but rarely off their own bat. Actually, if I could just get them to tidy as they went, that would do for me. Or is that Utopia? They are lovely though… we now have a points system but I fear it may be too little too late.”
I don’t think it’s anything Jackie has done wrong at all – it’s the same story here. I suspect we’d all do less work if we could, wouldn’t we? Although apparently, it’s important we do whip the little darlings into a fever of domesticity. It makes them learn to take responsibility according to the Daily Mail.
I’d be really keen to find out how Jackie’s point system works out. I’ve tried various methods from shouting-really-loud to threats and bribes.
You can lead a boy to the Hoover...
I do find writing a list of what the boys are expected to do does help. That way they know exactly what they must accomplish before they can stop. My way of doing it was to introduce housework half hour.
Several times a week, I write a list of jobs then the boys pick what they want from the list but they must keep working for a whole half hour. Slacking earns extra minutes.
They also empty the dishwasher because it’s the job I hate the most (there must be some perks to motherhood)
So, to answer the initial question – how many chores should a child do? My answer is as many as you can stand to get them to do.
And a final point about quality of the jobs done. Kathryn at Crystal Jigsaw said: “Amy hoovers and tidies her room and sometimes helps on the farm, especially with hens and lambing. But I couldn’t possibly expect her to empty the dishwasher. I’d prefer the crockery in one piece!”
In my book, a few chips and replacement plates is a small price to pay.
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