My husband grew up without chores. I kid you not. His mother had some philosophy about her husband’s household (13 kids by the time they stopped) having far too many jobs, and somehow equated that with her children needing none.
My upbringing was more typical: keep your room clean, rotating dishes assignment, and more labor-intensive Saturday Jobs. Even with that; my mother did the floors, toilets, laundry, and decorating.
When I first birthed a child, I had no plans or outlines for his future chores. When he started being mobile and ‘helped’ anyway, I began formulating rough ideas.
My first assisted me with:
- Unloading the dishwasher
- Sorting and folding laundry
- Watering or weeding the yard outside
- Toy pick up
In practical application; that meant:
- Putting some plastic items away and being chased after for removing a glass dish and running
- Swimming through the clothes, usually without any on his person
- Playing with everything, especially mud, and needing a bath within five minutes
- Fighting over how to run a vacuum over carpet, since he did not want to follow any sort of grid
- Waaaay too much polish
- “I’m too tiiiii-iiiiired to pick up!”
Not that I didn’t persist. After all, he always tailed me and wanted someone to do something with him all day.
What’s been interesting to me is that years and years of chore expectations and (sometimes sporadic) patterns of assigned jobs has led to them all (A) knowing chores are expected and (B) teaching the younger brothers by example.
Today, I can whip out a chore chart my FIVE YEAR OLD can do; jobs that include:
- Clean the bathroom (toilets, sink, counter, mirror, floor; refill soap and TP; empty garbage)
- Fold and put away your clothes (including hanging up dress clothes)
- Dust and polish the furniture (they still use enough polish to slide off the railings)
- Unload and load the dishwasher (a lot of spilled water, but they do it)
- Pick up and vacuum a room
The moral of the story? No matter how tiiii-iiiired the kids think they are, they actually are capable. No matter how reticent you feel to assign something as monumental as toilets, they can learn to do it.
Most importantly: no matter how much of a favor you think you’re doing your children by not assigning jobs, THEIR WIVES WILL WANT TO KILL YOU IF YOU DID NOT TEACH THEM.
©2019 Chelsea Owens