Do Your Kids Do Chores?

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Do Your Kids Do Chores?


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?


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Comments

  1. My childhood sounds a lot like yours. My sister, my brother and I did most all the work in the home. I was the oldest and I cooked too. None of us then grew up to make our kids do very many chores at home. Our kids are all grown up and do just fine with their own homes despite the lack of chores they had. My youngest daughter lives alone and does cooks most days for herself, as well as keep her apt neat. My older daughter keeps her home better than I do and makes all the food for her baby from scratch.

  2. Skirnir Hamilton says

    My son does do chores, but less the last few months then he was before we moved from Wisconsin. His regular chores was taking out the trash and dishwasher. Lately, with me staying home, and him doing a public school and having quite a bit of homework, he does get out of most chores now. I do think one of his chores, is going to be cleaning his own bathroom. We now have a condo where every bedroom has it’s own bathroom, a bit more bathrooms than we need, but we hated having one bathroom for three of us! My son’s bathroom has developed a bit of a scent and I have cleaned the toilet and some other things, but I think he needs to mop and wipe down the walls near the toilet. Probably going to be his chore every now and a again.

  3. My son is almost 5 … Right now his chores consist of putting recycling in the bin in the garage, helping to collect trash on Tuesday evenings, helping to pick up his toys, and helping with “cleaning day” on Saturday mornings (which mainly means he moves his toys to allow for vacuuming). He loves to wash dishes, but right now, that is not really helpful … Lol. As he gets older, yes, he will have more chores both to help around the house, to earn his allowance, and to teach him to take care of himself.

  4. I grew up quite the opposite. Mom didn’t want to bother to teach my sister and I to cook until we were quite older and then it was scramble eggs and pizza from a kit. We feed the outdoor animals (half wolf dogs, horse and rabbits) and when she felt she could trust us we did dishes and vacuuming. The washer and dryer were too costly if we were to mess them up so I didn’t do laundry until after I left home. Outdoor work was picking up the apples and raking the chestnut burrs (yuck and ow!). So, at a rather young age, 4 and 6 and 9, I taught my kids laundry and dishes, etc. for an allowance. It wasn’t long before they figured they didn’t need the money. So I went to pay-by-the-chore. When they were a little older, I nixed the whole thing, tired of going behind them to clean up properly, and did almost all of it myself until they got to be teenagers. They turned out alright, and I’m sure when the last one leaves home, he’ll clean up after himself too.

  5. Although my father was also a drill sergeant (literally, actually) we had live in maids from the time I was born until I was in the 9th grade..so honestly, I never had to even think of chores or laundry or anything else until my freshman year in HS and my mom made us at least fold clothes.. Thats really just about the only chore I remember doing at home.. I think we loaded or unloaded the dishwasher a time or two but not too much..
    We were allowed to cook when we wanted to and I was in Girl Scouts and 4H so did a good bit of cooking and baking early on.. Mom did teach me to clean up as I went along after walking into a catastrophe in the kitchen once when I was about 8 years old (I remember it very clearly lol) and I still do that to this day. There is very little to pick up/clean up when Im cooking.

    In my own adult home, I made my own kids clean their bedrooms, make their beds, and I taught them to do their laundry when they were fairly young.. but I never made them do any heavy chores. My oldest daughter did help out inside like vacuuming and dusting, and the youngest loved the outdoors so she helped me in the garden and yard but they werent really required chores most of the time.

    When I moved to Ohio and had 4 kids at home from ages 9-13, yes.. we set up a daily/weekly chore list and it was wonderful. No one kid had to do too much and it was rotated so that everyone did all the jobs in the rotation when it was their week. Our home ran like a well oiled ship and I missed having them there (I hated doing their chores lol) when they grew up & started moving out.

    All of our kids were taught to cook, do the laundry (one kid had laundry duty every week for most of the household) sweep, vacuum, dust, clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen & wash dishes by hand (no dishwasher, even today). JP (the lone boy) learned how to mow the yard but he didnt have to do it very often..
    I always made the meals but I always let the kids help and encouraged them to cook if they wanted to.

    I have one kiddo (pushing 24) left at home but hes rarely there. He still takes the trash to the curb and thats about his one job besides cleaning his own room(rarely) and doing his own laundry. He’s happy to help if I ask him to do something, but as I said, hes rarely home to do so.

    I felt it was important to teach my kids these things after reflection on how difficult it was for me to learn how to do them when I was so much older. In a way, I felt like my parents did me a disservice in a few aspects of my life by not teaching me living skills.. I never hid any hardships from my kids either.. again.. my personal experience was a great teacher.

  6. Tamona Valentine says

    I have four maids! Oh no wait you guys call them children don’t you. Yeah they clean up after themselves and me too! I make them do chores and my kids even do chores for the neighbors because they don’t have small children anymore. I use to do chores for my neighbors all the time when I was a kid so I passed the torch.

  7. As a kid, I was the oldest of 3, and I did most of the chores. We started real chores at age 10 (before that was mostly clean up the rooms, clean up toys etc). At 10, we had to wash dishes, help with things like vacuuming, help with trash etc. At 14, I helped mow the front lawn. No cooking at any of those times though. My mom did all the cooking. My siblings did a lot less chores. However, my brother is the cleanest amongst all of us and he is anal about it. I am ok with a mess (like my stockpile) but I cannot stand dirty.

    My kids are 4 and 2 right now. The youngest really has no chores except to clean up his toys into the bins that I put in nearly all the rooms that they go and play in. The older one has to make her bed and clean up toys. The older one does help a little with laundry but sometimes they are messing it up more than they are helping. LOL Both like to take out their toy vacuum and vacuum with me, especially the little one. Cleaning up with probably the most that I will make them do until around 10 when they can help wash dishes etc.

  8. I had this long post, and hit a wrong key… wiped, ugh!!
    Yes, I have/had my children do chores. Not the entire house cleaning my mom had my sister and I do, but basically teach them what to do to keep their homes clean and organized. That’s my job as a parent. I am happy to report it has worked. My older children keep beautiful homes and like to cook too.

  9. Well I am the live in maid in my house, or so it seems most days lately. I have a 19 year old college student at home who also works at a job and does work study at college so he is really busy. His chores are to cut the grass, take out the trash and load and unload the dishwasher and keep his room clean. When he was little we used to have fun and work together and I have taught him, because of his asthma and allergies, what he has to do to help himself breathe, dust, wash bed sheets and pillow frequently, etc. He used to love to help me but now he says I am a nag… But he is pretty good about helping out and when we had company for Easter someone even remarked at how amazed they are at what a team we are in our family of three.
    I learned young and loved to help my Mom. When I was 3 I had my own pint sized clothes line so I could hang up all the wash clothes and baby clothes. I idolized my Mom and wanted to be just like her.

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