Returning from vacation a couple of days ago was bittersweet. I was sad to leave Costa Rica, but super excited to see my husband and the kids once I walked through the door! I set my stuff down, hugged everyone madly, kissed them, and chatted them up. After being gone for 5 days, I missed my loves!
Once the initial dust of excitement settled, I looked around. There were toys everywhere. Random trash pieces mingling around all over the floor. Crumbs on the kitchen counter top and dining room table. Clothing strewn about the living room and each bedroom. Christmas tree, lights, decorations, etc, were fully intact. The refrigerator was close to empty. The bathroom counter tops were “eeeww”. Really?
So let me get this straight: Since you’re not used to doing routine household maintenance, you didn’t feel that it was necessary to keep it up while I was gone? You don’t smell that toilet? Now I love my husband, and this is not a bashing post. I honestly think that he wasn’t pushed very hard to clean up after himself at a young age, my MIL cleans up after him and the kids all the time without teaching them to do it themselves. He could care less about stuff lying around. Everywhere. It just doesn’t phase him. I CARE.
I will not allow my household to remain a dirty mess, and I do not want my kids to think it’s OK to live crappy and disorganized. It will carry on through adulthood and beyond the household; relationships, employment, schedules and other personal endeavors. In addition to learning how to keep up with yourself and your belongings, there are a lot of benefits to giving kids chores. Here’s what clinical psychologist Dr. James G. Wellborn suggests:
• Responsibility – When you make a mess YOU are obligated to clean it up. The most straightforward reason your kid needs to do chores is to drive the point home that he is responsible for his actions in the world (and the messes he makes).
• Personal Obligation – When you live with other people, you’re obliged to contribute to the general upkeep of common living areas. Chores help your kid learn to pull her own weight when it comes to keeping shared spaces clean (so she doesn’t end up moving back home because even her friends consider her a slob).
• Organization and Prioritizing – Chores are unpleasant for most kids. Unfortunately, life is filled with unpleasant but necessary tasks. Chores provide the chance for your kid to practice making time for necessary evils like routine maintenance in their schedule of otherwise fun or meaningful activities. This helps them learn how to plan, organize, prioritize and suffer.
• Sensitivity for others – It isn’t crucial that things be straightened or cleaned. Exposure to germs and disease can help build the immune system (if it doesn’t kill you first). But, there are some things you do because it is important to someone else (like, say, a spouse or the health department). Chores provide your kids with a clear message that the world doesn’t revolve around them and they need to take others’ feelings and sensibilities into consideration.
• Pride in a job well done – It is important to take pride in even the most insignificant tasks. Chores help your kids learn that every task, however base, is an opportunity to work their hardest and do their best. (The expression on their face when you feed them this line is priceless.)
• Self-sufficiency – OK, this reason really isn’t that important. If your kid needs a lot of practice before he can skillfully take out the trash or sweep the floor, you have much bigger challenges than getting chores done.
Discipline. Self worth. Responsibility In all facets of life, you have to actually do the work to get the job done. The sun does not rise and set on any one person’s schedule, nor does the world turn for YOU. Nobody is going to do it for you, tell you how, when or where. I believe it starts early, with chores!
Do your give your children household chores?