When I was 10, as I remember it, I had a list of chores as long as my arm that had to be accomplished each Saturday morning. I had to dust the living room, which was no easy task. How did my mom see dust and dirt everywhere when I didn’t see a speck?
I helped out in other ways as well; sweeping the porch, picking up trash (and dog leavings—eww) in the yard, drying the dishes, taking the laundry to the (creepy, dark, cobwebby) basement, feeding and watering the pets. All of this on top of maintaining my own things.
When I tell my son of this list of chores, he’s shocked. My daughter asks me if I felt like Cinderella. I think somewhere along the line I forgot to teach them a very important lesson about family responsibility.
Unfortunately, I’m one of those “oh, I’ll just do it myself” type of people. Now I’m not a martyr about it—I don’t get all passive-aggressive with the sighs and moaning about how I’m sooo terribly busy, but I still do it myself when I should let me kids take on some of the responsibility. Learning personal responsibility is a necessary part of childhood!
So now, I’ve taught them both a thing or two. They know how to wash and dry the towels (notice I did not say they know how to fold the towels; mostly, they know how to ball them up in some small resemblance of what a folded towel looks like). They separate the clean laundry (daddy’s, mommy’s, mine, yours). My son empties the dishwasher. My daughter wipes down the bathroom counter. They use the hand vac on the kitchen floor.
And they love the responsibility! They love doing the chores! Okay, they loved it for like the first week and now the shine has worn off and they complain as I expect them to. But they are learning so much; time management skills, independence, self-worth. They are branching out and trying more things (making breakfast and letting me sleep in on the weekend! Score!) with this newfound confidence in their abilities.
Yes, I have a few more crumbs to sweep up and my towels would not pass the Martha Stewart test, but I think we can all live with that.