We all know the reasons we don’t push our kids to help around the house – either they don’t want to do the task in question or we are concerned they won’t do it properly. Either way, we are facing the prospect of “wasted” time, when we do the task again.
But is it really a waste of time getting kids to do household chores? Or is it a valuable investment?
Perhaps my biggest parenting mistake was creating the “chore chart” telling the kids they “had to” do certain jobs at specific times. Then I was set in a rut of reminding the kids, following up on whether they’d performed the chore, and all the time, the kids had a child-sized “mental load” wearing them down because they didn’t want to empty the recycling bin right now.
A better strategy was to incorporate the kids into the rhythm of the day, so we were working alongside each other – I serve out dinner while one of the kids sets the table, or I unpack the plates from the dishwasher while the kids do the cutlery and the glasses. They prefer working with me than working for me, and I think this gives them a better sense that their contributions are valuable and reinforces their unique role in the family. This sense of value and responsibility is ultimately a lesson in empathy, helping them to develop their inherent desire to help and nurture others.
Here are some other top reasons to be persistent about delegating household chores to your kids.
- They won’t take you for granted
If you raise your kids live in an enchanted home where dirty crumpled clothes magically transform into clean folded laundry, they will never appreciate what you do in your spare time. Children do need to understand how the world works and they also need a clear understanding of what you do around the house. Enlisting them to help with chores is far more effective than saying “Not now, I’m doing laundry!”
- They’ll learn basic life skills
One of your goals as a parent is to raise children who will eventually grow up and live independent productive lives. Simple skills like sweeping floors and washing dishes take a while to master, but they will soon become second nature. Life is much simpler when you can handle these basic life skills!
- They’ll build their self-esteem and independence
Children – and adults – gain confidence by knowing how to manage a situation, particularly as they strive to become more independent. Eventually, your kids will want to make snacks for themselves, and they will feel more confident about their achievement if they know the procedure of clearing up after themselves, such as cleaning up spills, putting the ingredients away and rinsing off dirty cutlery. You will also feel more independent, once you know they can make themselves a sandwich without your assistance, and without leaving a mess for you to clean up. Otherwise that first step towards independence will be overshadowed when you are annoyed by the mess in your tidy kitchen!
- They’ll develop a sense of order
Small children do appreciate a sense of logic and routine in their world – they like knowing how things are done. When you introduce them to a regular routine of rinsing off their dish and putting it in the dishwasher, or making their bed each morning, they also develop a sense of control over their environment.
- An antidote against boredom
Kids who understand that jobs need to be done will never be bored… at least they’ll never complain about being bored. Either they will be in the habit of finding a worthy occupation, or they will keep quiet about wanting something to do because they know you’ll have a bright suggestion like raking up leaves or scrubbing shower grout.