When my children were younger, around 5 and 6 years old, I started writing a chore list. With five young children, I knew it was important to teach them all, the value of responsibility. Of course when they were 1 and 1/2 and 2 years old, I taught them the very basic simple chores, like helping to put away their toys or pick up their trash. I wasn’t a drill Sargent, though their perception might have been different. I felt it was my job to teach them to respect our home and value what we have. By the time they were in kindergarten and first grade, chores like helping rake leaves and put them in a yard bag, was taught. I had them help fold laundry and put that in their own rooms. As they grew older, they learned how to help clean the kitchen after making meals, and do the dishes. Teaching them to wash their own clothes was taught by the time they all were ten years old.
I know those lessons paid off, as they all know how to cook and clean and do laundry by the time they all moved out. Teaching responsibilities at home helps our children learn appreciation and gratitude. Money doesn’t grow on trees In our house, if you didn’t learn to take care of your special blouse, shirt or sweater, you just may not get a new one until the next Christmas.
As a single mom, I was too strapped to pay my kids an allowance. They had friends who were given money every week, and they never did any household chores. I made sure my kids understood, that was not that way it worked in our home. Of all the things a parent can give their children, one of my top favorites, is to respect your things and those of others too. My treat to my kids was not of the monetary kind, but of praises, and acknowledgment of their hard work, and appreciation for taking care of our family home.
The neighborhood kids knew not to come knocking on our door until my kids chores were finished, then they could play outside. Some of their friends would ask them, “why does your mom make you do chores?” My kids response was always, “How come you don’t?” I guess in my generation it was a standard expectation, my siblings and I always had chores on Saturdays, then we could go outside and play all day long.
As my kids grew older, if they wanted a messy room, though I might have cringed, I just closed their door. That was up to them, at that point, it was not one of my top worries. As long as our living room, kitchen, den and bathrooms were all neat and clean, their own bedrooms became their concern. Of course as any parent knows, I did my weekly “walk through,” just to make sure nothing out of the normal was in there. That keeps your kids on their toes too. If they wanted posters and artwork on their walls, they were free to express themselves, just nothing offensive and vulgar.
Saturday chores teach your kids a sense of pride with their contribution towards the family home. Things can’t always be done for them, and nobody should be their maid. When they get older, those lessons will pay off, and hopefully, they will pass their list onto their own children!
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Article by Laurie Cesario-Overton