Have you ever heard someone say, “I had to learn how to do chores once I became an adult?” Or maybe a person will say, “I never learned how to clean.” Perhaps, you have said such words. If others were doing most everything for you, it can feel like you didn’t quite catch on to how to keep up with household tasks, yourself. Of course we can learn to do these things anyway, but it may feel more challenging. So guess what? When you are teaching your children to do chores, you are doing them a big favor!
Who knew, that when my mom was showing me how to clean the toilet (don’t forget the bottom part!), and vacuum the carpet (be sure to get in the corners!), and load the dishwasher (rinse off the chunks!) she was giving me a gift. I don’t think I would have seen it that way at the time. It certainly didn’t feel like a gift when I made a gender roles complaint that my brother didn’t have to help with the dishes and I unwittingly got myself the job of picking up the dog poop!
I keep bumping into research with positive correlations about children doing chores. You might want to check out the Wall Street Journal article, Why Children Need Chores. Doing chores teaches responsibility and gives children the sense that they can contribute. Contributing gives a feeling of efficacy: I can do stuff! Contributing also creates a feeling of belonging. I am a part of the team—my family, that is. Having everyone contribute helps us remember that, I’m no more, and no less important, than anyone else in the family.
Does that mean your kids will always do their chores with a big smile on their faces? Doubt it. But then again, do you? Enjoying the task is optional; you can still insist everyone participates.
I visited a friend for lunch the other day and when it came to mealtime, every one of her kids had a job. They scattered like mice, scurrying around, each with their own little task. One set out the napkins; one grabbed the flatware; bread appeared on the table. Wow! It was magical how the mother had given each child a manageable task and the table was set. Obviously, a lot had gone on behind the scenes regarding consistent, well-defined responsibilities. But it was paying off in spades; mom was getting help, and the children were receiving the life-long benefits of participating in life tasks. With some planning and patience, you and your family can do this too!