Tuesday, April 17, 2012
( © Brad Calkins | Dreamstime.com)
Kids and housework. This is an area I've struggled with ever since my children were very small. When I was growing up, I had to do a lot of housework. I also did a fair amount of work in the yard. My twin sister and I were completely responsible for cleaning up our own room (we shared a room). I don't ever remember our mom helping us clean our room.
We also did the dishes every evening after we ate dinner. Mother did all of the cooking because she didn't really want us to do it. We made a big mess when we cooked, so she preferred to do that herself. My sister and I set the table before dinner, cleaned off the table after dinner, loaded the dishwasher and/or hand washed the dishes, and dried the dishes and put them away.
We helped with the laundry, although we weren't totally responsible for doing it. I do remember sorting the clothes, washing and drying them, and hanging them out on the line during the summer. We did most of the ironing too. I remember standing in the living room watching t.v. with a long row of clothes hanging up waiting to be ironed. For some reason, we ironed the clothes all at once and then hung them all in the closet. We sometimes ironed for hours on Saturdays!
We vacuumed, dusted, and did other jobs in the house as well. Besides housework, we helped in my grandmother's garden every spring and summer too. During the school year, we went to her house on Saturdays and worked. Once school was out (my mom was a teacher), we went several times a week and spent the whole day. We planted seeds, watered, pulled weeds, picked veggies. shucked corn or shelled peas, or did whatever else needed to be done.
I guess what I'm saying is that we worked pretty hard when my sister and I were kids and teens. I don't really remember having any terrible memories of working, although I'm sure we weren't thrilled about it at the time. But for some reason, I don't make my kids do nearly enough work in the house! I know I should, and I'm trying to improve, but the honest truth is that I haven't required them to do a whole lot so far. (Shame on me!)
About a month or so ago, I started having terrible back pain. It turned out to be a protruding disc in my lower back, and it was very painful for several weeks. I wasn't able to do much more than sit on the couch each day and point out to the kids what needed to be done. It was not any fun to be in pain and unable to get up and do much of anything. It did cause me to realize, though, that my kids should be doing a whole lot more than they've been required to do up to this point!
I was really proud of how Noah (age 15) and Mary Grace (age 9) pitched in to help get the work done! They had to do laundry, do dishes, straighten up around the house and help keep clutter under control, clean their own rooms, and help cook meals. They also, of course, had to keep up with their school work. I could tell that they were trying to be considerate of me and do everything they could (well.....most of the time!) to help me while I couldn't do much for myself or them.
My back is much better now, but I'll probably always have to be a little more careful about picking up heavy things, etc. As much pain as I was in, I still think it was totally worth the lesson that my kids and I learned. They learned that they can step up and pitch in when needed. They realized that they are capable of doing so much more than I've been asking them to do! They also realized (although I'm pretty sure they won't admit it) that housework won't harm or injure them in any way. (gasp!)
I learned that they are capable of doing nearly everything that needs to be done around here! They may need some extra instruction and assistance with new jobs, but they can definitely do all of the things that absolutely must be done to keep the house in order from day to day.
In fact, my little "injury" caused me to have a revelation that I otherwise might never have had. I decided that, since my kids were able to help cook dinner on nights when I couldn't do it myself, they are ready to start taking one night each week to cook dinner for the rest of the family. That means that two nights a week I won't have to cook dinner! Hooray!
Do you have your kids do much work in the house? What about in the yard? I'd love to hear from you about the jobs you require your kids to do and at what ages you require them.