Monday, December 12, 2011

On Children and Chores ~ Part I

I've recently begun reading this fantastic book, Life Skills for Kids: Equipping Your Child for the Real World, by Christine M. Field. As a mother, I desire to not only teach my children academically, but I also desire to equip them with the life skills they will need to survive on their own once they leave home and go out on their own.

I really don't want my children to go off to college one day with little or no knowledge on how to manage money, keep a clean and organized house, do laundry, and cook.

And as my children have gotten older, I've been more convinced that letting them off the hook in the chore department is much more detrimental to them than it is helpful. They may be happier being able to play or read or do whatever else they enjoy doing all day long, but I'm becoming convinced that this is very detrimental to their well-being in the long run.

I don't even remember where I read the recommendation for this book, but I do know it's been setting on my bookshelf for over a year. And this past weekend, I determined in my mind that it was time to tackle this subject matter. I've begun to notice some laziness in my children, and I want to stop that laziness before it becomes ingrained in their little heads.

So this morning I toted my little sweethearts to the laundry room with me for some laundry lessons. Per recommendation from the book, I had them watch me do the first load and then had them do the second load together with my help. Ms. Fields emphasizes in her book that it is absolutely necessary for the parent to be right there beside the child in the early stages of learning the task in order to ensure that the task is done properly.

They did the second load with instruction from me. It went fairly well except for a fabric softener mishap. Let's just say I only have about 1/2 bottle of fabric softener left and I'm going to transfer the rest of it into a squeeze bottle of sorts to prevent accidental spills in the future. :)

And here's one little tidbit of wisdom that I have heard more than once and from more than one source: We should not do things for our children that they could do for themselves. When we don't actively teach our children and then include them in household chores, but rather do them ourselves (maybe because we don't want to take the time to teach them or because we don't think they're capable), we're handicapping them.

And I have actually found that young children are quite capable of more things than we could ever think. It just takes some effort on our part as mothers (or fathers) to teach and guide them. And trust me when I say that I know it can be an annoyance in our minds to have to take the time to teach our children rather than just do it ourselves, but it's so beneficial for both the child and the parent in the long run. And, actually, for the home itself. Mom gets some help with household chores, and the child learns responsibility and some important life skills.

I've also decided that I'm going to make a chore chart of some sort. Each of my children have chores, but I'm constantly having to remind them to do them. I find this very annoying and my constant need to remind them makes me grumpy, so I've decided to make a chart and have them refer to it first thing in the morning as well as in the evening. I have an idea of how I'm going to do this, and I'll share it once I have it completed.

In fact, I figured that since I need some inspiration, guidance, and motivation to get my kids more involved in household maintenance, some of you may also need it too. So I'd like to occasionally share what I learn and the practices we institute here in our home over the course of the next month or so.

Oh, and much to my surprise, neither of the younger two whined when I told them my little plan. And they both actually enjoyed participating in the washing of the laundry. Sergei already does his own laundry himself, as I taught him previously. And as much as he didn't like the idea of having to do his own laundry, I think he'll appreciate it in several years when he's out on his own. Now I just need to teach him money management. :)

Have a blessed day!


Just Another Day In Paradise said...

Ah, sweet words... I rarely seem to find others that agree with me when I say "Why do for your children what they can do themselves?"
I had been doing all of the laundry but just recently 2 of my daughters asked why I do all of the work? And asked if they could please fold and put away their own clothes. OK!!! Score! I'm not ready to let them at the machines yet (they are downstairs which is currently off limits to kids, and also where I have Christmas presents stored....) but perhaps after our basement re-do, they too will be running the machines. Your youngsters give me hope :)

Anonymous said...

I agree! and it is harder sometimes because you do have to be right there :)...somebody thought we "needed" red/green chocolate chip cookies...but I've noticed it builds self-esteem, confidence and even gratitude. great post. happy celebrating Jesus days to you and your family! (maybe we'll see you tonight) Annette