The value of doing chores
Quick show of hands: who wants their kids to be independent and self-reliant? Okay, so that’s pretty much everybody.
Then why does it seem like kids doing chores is a thing of the past?
At the risk of sounding like my father, when I was a kid, chores were part of life. You did the dishes, mowed the lawn, washed the floor, chopped the wood, and on it went. Sometimes you got paid, but most of the time you didn’t. It’s just what was expected.
So, are we expecting less from our kids these days? And if that’s the case, why?
The basis for doing chores
Aside from the fact that none of us want our kids living in our basements into their forties, there are plenty of good reasons to get our children helping out around the house.
When kids pitch in they’re learning skills for life. There’s nothing more pathetic than a grown man who can’t do laundry or sew on a button. When your kid learns that new skill, begrudgingly or not (okay, let’s get real, it’s almost always begrudgingly), there will be a sense of pride and accomplishment.
They can also see how doing their part benefits everyone, i.e., “The sooner the kitchen is clean, the sooner we can all go outside to play.”
And that sense of responsibility and working with others as a team transfers over to school and other social settings.
Chores help establish a good work ethic, and it’s hard to argue against that.
Is it all our fault . . . again?
I get it, we’re busy. Parents, kids, all of us.
Between work, soccer and dance lessons, scheduling is an ongoing issue for most households. But, really, is it so hard to make up a chore chart and try to start instilling a little sense of responsibility?
Also, these days, people generally have more money to spend on hiring a yard guy or someone to come in and clean every week or two. And, undoubtedly, they’ll do a waaay better job than your 12-year-old ever will.
Plus, if you don’t make your kids do chores you won’t have to put up with them moping toward the broom closet and listen to them passive-aggressively banging the vacuum on the table legs. (My brother went through a phase where he kept “accidentally” running over the electrical cord with the lawnmower. That is until my dad taught him how to fix the cord and threatened to make him buy a new one.)
So, yes, there are reasons not to bother with chores – but are they important or just convenient?
Now’s the time to turn over a new leaf (and then get your kid to rake them up) . . .
Why not take advantage of the longer, less organized days of summer to start a new chore regime?
Have some structure but leave the opportunity for choice and autonomy. Come up with a list of age-appropriate chores to choose from and a general amount of time required, and Bob’s your uncle!
Obviously, if there’s any element of risk involved, such as using power tools and blenders, supervision is required, at least at the beginning, but otherwise fight that urge to hover around making corrections.
Start with realistic goals and raise your expectations gradually. And be prepared to let go of perfection when it comes to, well, pretty much anything they do. Who needs windows without streaks anyways?
It’s okay to set goals and expect more from our kids. Otherwise, how will they ever learn to expect more from themselves?