Raising five kids can be demanding. There's lots of laundry, dishes, laundry, cooking, cleaning, laundry, dishes, laundry, dishes, okay you get the point! I work full-time right now and my husband works a couple full-time jobs on the ranch. Not long after we were married, we realized that the kids were going to have to pitch in and help out in order for our household to run smoothly. We just had too much on our own plates to try and juggle every single household chore ourselves.
Our kids' ages range from four to thirteen. We decided that each child is capable of folding their own laundry and putting it away. We had to give some directions and a little encouragement the first few times, but now it's old hat. Each child must also clean their room, make their own bed, and pick up after themselves. Picking up after themselves includes putting away any toys, blankets, or any other "thing" they got out themselves. Cooking, dishes, cleaning up after supper, dusting, cleaning counter tops, and taking care of the animals are also chores they take part in as well.
I read an article in Country People Magazine several months ago that I think of often. The article showcased the gorgeous Country star, Sara Evans. Just imagine having seven kids in one household! After marrying her husband, it became 4 people + 5 people = 9 people under one roof! I think they also realized quickly that rules and chores were going to be beneficial to everyone's sanity.
I believe often times parents feel pressured into doing everything, especially stay-at-home parents. They feel guilty if they don't contribute to running the household and holding it all together. I also believe this feeling can lead to super duper burnout (such classy terms I know) and feelings of resentment. If we look at giving our kids chores as a way of preparing them for their future, would it make us look at delegating responsibilities in a different way? I think so.
I have taught in a high school setting or been a part of that line of work for ten years now. I also worked in the Mathematics lab in college, assisting students on sharpening their math skills. I would use the term tutoring here, but I hate saying or using the "t" word, just ask my students. By the way, another word I hate is duty. My point is I have had the opportunity to see an array of young people in our society. I know I have had students through the years that require a lot of coaxing to clean up after themselves (it's like pulling teeth just to get them to push in a chair) and I often wonder what their room must look like at home. Is it messy or is it perfectly put together because momma, daddy, grandma, whoever did a great job?
Could we be doing our children a disservice by not allowing them to learn responsibility at a young age? Well let's think for a minute. Can you picture someone you know (you can keep the name to yourself...especially if you are married to them) that probably wasn't taught how to cook , clean, do laundry, take responsibility for themselves, probably drives the person they are married to crazy because of it? That should be motivation enough to want to encourage and teach our children how to contribute to the well being of the family household.
I know this was a very long post, but I thought it was a very important topic to discuss. As a parent I feel it is my responsibility to prepare those kids for the real world. The real world isn't easy. It requires hard work and discipline. We want to put young people in society that appreciate the value of hard work and discipline. Now picture: You get married at twenty-something. You do not know how to cook a meal, do the laundry, or manage your money. Guess what? You are going to have a difficult time adjusting. Of course it is possible to make the leap into being a responsible young adult, but it will not be painless. So next time you look at your to-do list, move some of those to-do's to the kiddo(s) and feel good about it, because you are making the world a better place for everyone.
|picture copyright Kristen Chase|
I also want to point out that children like boundaries, they like to know their role in the family. Our children love to help clean the house and each kid has a specialty area that they are better at than others. It is a confidence builder when they are able to contribute to the household. Why should we withhold that from them? It requires consistency on the parent's end, but it's worth the effort.
I am definitely no expert and I sure don't have all the answers. We are all a work in progress. I just hope to give you something to think about, something to chew on.