My childhood chores involved babysitting, folding laundry, doing dishes, baling hay, milking cows, and whatever else my parents needed.
We no longer milk cows. My kids are too small to bale hay (and we no longer square bale anything). Many of the jobs that were considered okay for my generation and generations previous are considered unsafe for children to do today.
The thing that is most unnerving to me is not that chores are unsafe, but rather the fact that we are raising future citizens who don’t know how to fold their own shirts.
Recently, I overheard two women talking about their teenage children. They were discussing the fact that they don’t let their kids do the laundry. The reasoning for this was that they didn’t have the patience to teach their children how to use the washing machine and that the kids never folded the clothes the way they (the moms) like it.
If we don’t demonstrate patience for our children, how will they know what the skill of being patient looks like? If we don’t teach them how to use the washing machine, who will? Some nice lady at the laundry mat?
Secondly, how can our children improve their skills, in things like laundry folding, if we don’t guide them? I don’t mind if my shirts are a bit sloppy when folded, at least somebody folded them.
Another time a mom told me she didn’t know how I had the patience to let my kids cook with me. “They are so messy, and I am already tired when I get home. I don’t want them underfoot when I am trying to get dinner on the table,” was what she told me.
Cooking is messy. Learning is messy. Kids are messy. The cool thing about cooking with my kids is that they are learning. They learn how to make food. They learn how to clean up. They learn how to work as a team preparing, making, and serving our meals. Plus, my time with them is so precious in the evenings; it is nice to be able to do something productive.
I am not gonna lie. We don’t cook together every night. I don’t let my kids put the clothes away all the time. Sometimes I am too tired to be patient with them and sometimes they are too tired to work with me. But we still try most of the time.
It is really important that we give our kids chores. Let them set the table, make the lemonade, or put away the towels. Tell them to put away their shoes and pack their snack for the next day. It should be their job to help clear the table and dust the livingroom. The lessons learned and satisfaction gained from being a productive member of a family leads to productive members of our communities.
As summer begins, establish a simple routine for yourself and your kids. Post a calendar on the fridge assigning specific jobs for each day. When the expectations are outlined, they are much easier to attain and your child will hone their chore-completion skills in no time.
Put energy into helping your kids find self-satisfaction and worth in having household intents. Reward them for their efforts and congratulate yourself on raising a responsible and capable future generation.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. No children were harmed in the completion of these chores.