Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mom would say ... #12 We're in this together

Do your kids have regular chores? If so, you teaching them life skills and a work ethic. A recent study shows how doing chores boosts future success for children. I'm not surprised.

By the time our kids hit their teens, they were dividing most of the housework between them. We didn't have yard work, but we assigned our 3 sons and one daughter four weekly inside chores (besides caring for their rooms):
  • dust the house, including picture frames and door moldings
  • vacuum the house
  • clean bathrooms (2 1/2)
  • wash down kitchen appliances, cupboards, and counters
Our children chose the chore they disliked least ... or thought they could get done quickest. Once in a while they'd swap, but usually they stuck with what they'd chosen. That made it easy for me to evaluate their efforts. I tried not to be too hard on them and to appreciate their help. I'm not perfectionist - but I did note when they'd skimmed or done a lousy job. Doing GOOD work is important.

They also cooked sometimes, messing up a clean kitchen or experimenting on us with strange food combinations. Our rule, which acted as incentive for learning to cook? If you cooked for the family, someone else would clean up. When they cooked or baked on their own, they cleaned up their own mess unless someone pitched in - which the other kids often did. I bought groceries or let them forage the pantry and fridge. Today, they're creative cooks and bakers and know how to keep house.

When parents get too impatient or fussy to let their children help out, we prevent them from learning how to work with others and contribute to a family.

Sure, it's a pain to have little ones "get in the way" as they ride the vacuum. Elementary students can splash more water out of the sink than actually wash dishes. Teens take a long time to fold clothes and put them away. Don't give up!

A lack of skill when tackling a new job is a given, no matter what the chore - or future employment, for that matter! Training can be boring and repetitious. It can also be good fun to hang out together and admire what you've done.

Are you willing to invest in your kids' future? They'll learn at least three things from doing regular chores:
  1. Significance - I'm important and my family depends on my contribution.
  2. Cooperation - my good work and yours make a difference. Working together, we make a positive contribution to our group.
  3. Usefulness - what I do is necessary work. Maintaining what we have is resourcefulness that is good for the planet and good for our family.
For tips on strategic management of household chores, click here. Another resource: here's a chore reminder list.

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