Do your kids do chores? Or are you one of those that finds it “easier” to do everything around the house yourself?
When I was a kid growing up in the 60s and 70s, my mother was a firm believer that child labor laws were more of a guideline than a rule. In her belief system, my brother, sister and I were not put upon this earth to be waited on, but rather to earn our keep. By age 8 I was doing: dishes, cleaning bathrooms, the laundry dusting, vacuuming, and just about every other household task there was. I didn’t cook much because my sister was a better cook. If my mother didn’t make up a dish that morning to be popped into the oven when she left for work (she went to work at 4pm until I was about 12), my sister was responsible for making dinner.
My brother is three years younger than I am, but as soon as he was big enough to push the mower (he was such a little peanut! He went into the Marines at age 19 weighing 140 pounds, and gained 25 pounds during basic training!) yard work was his game. When my father could catch him that is. That kid was fast, and it was my father’s responsibility to grab him and make him do his chores.
Needless to say, the division of labor in my parent’s household was divided: my mother trained the girls, my father the boy(s). The (s) is because by the time my youngest brother was born, a lot changed in that household. We were all significantly older, and did the chores so he didn’t have too. I am sure it helped that my youngest brother was not only very good natured, but the single most beautiful baby you ever saw! He had us all wrapped around his little finger without even trying. Strangely the lack of chore-training didn’t really hurt him as he is very handy, and apparently naturally inclined to neatness. He learned all, except laundry (by that time my mother had machines she wanted no one else touching), after we left home, just in a less drill-Sargent-y environment.
When I had Sonny-boy, I knew I didn’t want to make him a slave to chores, but I did want him to learn how to do the basics – for his own good. He learned to do dishes, resisted learning how to do laundry (and was sorry when he went off to college and had a few disasters!), clean his room, etc. He doesn’t believe in making his bed, but whatever.
From an early age Sonny-boy instinctively knew how to cook. I may have taught him the basics, but he surpassed me long ago in creativity and willingness to try new things.
Would it have been “easier” for me to have done everything myself instead of insisting Sonny-boy learn out how to cook and clean? In our three person household, the answer is an unequivocal yes. There wasn’t that much of a mess. Sonny-boy seldom made a mess because I swear he was just too lazy to clean up after himself. I always suspected he just found it easier to not cause clutter and chaos than be responsible for picking up after himself later. In my parent’s household where there were five or six people to contend with, I think my mother would have worn herself out if she had taken the “easy” path and not used child labor.
Do your kids do chores? Or do you (or your significant other) do all the clean up? Or are you fortunate enough to have a live in maid?