I never wanted to be a parent that did everything for my kids…I wanted my children, however many that may be, to understand that the home and upkeep of it is the responsibility of everyone living in it (not just Mum), to learn that things in life require work and to generally be thoughtful and helpful individuals. Both Nathan and I feel all of these things can be accomplished by giving them “chores” or “jobs” around the home. We both helped out at home for as long as we can remember, he being one of the older ones would help with food shopping and younger kids and I did all sorts from hoovering, mopping, washing up and cleaning the bathroom. These skills and responsibilities made neither of us work shy and prepared us for real life! We rarely take things for granted and understand that nice things = work, a nice home takes work to look that way, nice food takes time and effort to prepare, nice objects take work to pay for them. Its something I learnt early on and something I hope I can teach my kids as soon as poss!
One of the great things about them attending a Montessori school for their nursery years is that there is a huge focus on “life skills” and as a result they fold laundry, clean, wash their pots, prepare food, look after the animals and plants as well as the usual buttons and self care. I love that from the age of 2.5 Megs has been able to pour herself a drink without spillages and Ethan at 4 can pour/make a bowl of cereal and toast. It not only gives them a lot of independence in what I feel is the right way, but it also means my load as a mother is a little lighter as we can all work together.
With this desire to teach my kids a little responsibility and a sense of work, we give them several chores to do throughout the week. We don’t have a chart or anything like that (though im sure that will come as they get older) but there are certain tasks around the home that they “own” and now are happy to help with. I love to hear Ethan say “oh mummy let me help you with that” or “would you like me to do that for you?” Of course its not always that dreamy – they are only 4 & 2, but I can see how giving them opportunities to help, accountability to what they do in the home (think mess, clothes & toys) is creating within them a sense of awareness for others, an understanding of work and reward and hopefully growing up with a desire to help others and pick up after themselves. We hope they will never have a sense of entitlement or be lazy in life.
As they are helpful we reward them; firstly verbally by thanking them for being so helpful (usually followed with a kiss, hug or pat on the back/arm rub) and then a sticker on their chart which they can trade in for toys or treats – again in the hope they will learn to work and save for the things they want in life. Ethan is currently saving up his stickers for a bike and Megs an “Anna doll” (frozen). I know these things can be bought for birthdays but as adults do we wait for our birthdays to get everything we want or do we save for it? treat ourselves to it after a great achievement? and so it should be with our kids, We shouldn’t only give them things on their birthdays and nor should we throw stuff at them because its “in” or they want it. I really think they should learn that they get stuff when they’ve done well, worked hard and that they can have whatever they want if they are willing to put the effort in to get it.
My kids are only young but that is not an excuse to do everything for them. Of course I cook for them, clean the home, wash their clothes, take them out, teach them and nurture them. We provide everything they need and shower them with love and out of love we teach them responsibility and we work together to keep the home in order, to prepare a lovely meal and to have the things we want in life!
Image taken from pinterest