In a world full of instant gratification, full school days and busy activities, it’s hard to find time to add something else to the list. However, I am of the attitude that this ‘something else’ might be the very thing that would ease the stress of all the rest.
One of the most important goals as a parent is to raise your children to become independent adults. In today’s society, where parenting has become more concerned about easing children’s emotional needs than ever before, many times, daily chores have gone out the window.
I must admit, I am part of the problem sometimes. As much as I want my children to grow up to be independent, I find myself helping more than I should, to get tasks completed. Online, we mamas joke about things like re-organizing the dishwasher, how the laundry pile never gets any smaller, and how the kids want dinner every night. But the reality is, we need to express to our children how these chores make up the family, not just what mama needs to do. Teaching our children to partake in these family chores will set them up to be responsible, independent global citizens.
According to research, chores in the family have been on the decline since the 1980s as living conditions and technology (dishwashers/washing machines) improved. However, I distinctly remember having both a dishwasher and a washing machine in my parents’ home and I still had weekly chores to do. I’m sure there were (many) times I didn’t want to do them, but there was no rebutting, I just did it because I knew I had to.
I remember when my boys were very young, they didn’t just help me, they enjoyed helping me! Their little toddler hands could only do so much, but they couldn’t wait to do what mama was doing. Any bit of independence I gave them was celebrated by them.
I also remember letting their father know what they accomplished, further elevating their pride in their ‘work’. Instilling this feeling of accomplishment early will help them continue to want to help when asked. As they get older, it might seem trite to compliment them on simple tasks, but each compliment gives them a feeling of pride, no matter the age.
If you told them once, you told them a hundred times, but that doesn’t mean they will remember. Little ones need your help, even if that means just being nearby while they try to handle a chore. Leaving them to manage on their own will most likely lead to an unfinished task. Dividing things up and helping them see things in smaller doses will help them get the whole project done with ease.
Go, Team, Go!
Feeling you are part of something bigger than yourself can be powerful. I know a mother that has a family team meeting every Saturday, and her family divides the chores for the day for each child and parent. Each chore is age appropriate, and some chores are done in teams. This simple meeting brings the family together to work as a team, and this shows each child how they are all needed.
There are chores that children can do at every age (from age 3 and up) and it’s important to continue adding to their list as they grow. It doesn’t matter if there is homework or extra activities. Children need to know that their help in the family is needed and non-negotiable. In our home, we set a chore to be done before something they would like. For example, get the laundry folded and put away before you go for a bike ride. This is working for us, and I’m hoping it will stick so we can continue this method as they grow older.
The purpose is to instill these habits of doing chores as a family member so that, eventually, our children will not need our helping hand to do it on their own. These life skills will help them be more self-conscious, less selfish, empathetic, and have a sense of responsibility in all areas of life.
Is it easy? No. Will there be drawbacks? Absolutely. I’m sure as my three boys grow into tweens and teens, the challenge will be even greater. However, if the attitude to help a family because you are part of it is positive, it might get ingrained deep enough to have them remember what a family is all about. And my greatest wish is that they will be able to pass that feeling down to their future families as well.
Julia a.k.a. Mama MOE was a freelance fashion writer before she had three wonderful children (one plus twins). Her blog, Ask Mama MOE, is all about living a family-friendly life and ranges in topics. Always in a positive tone, Ask Mama MOE is a great place for some parenting humour, DIY crafts, recipes and some deep thoughts. Reviews and giveaways are also done on products Mama MOE herself would be proud to use in her home. Be sure to check out Mama MOE’s charity, Shopping From The Heart.