A sweet mom walking the road sent me the post that she wrote for her blog Sometimes I Sleep … other times I pretend. Love the name – so funny and true! Anyway, I’m always encouraged and thought we would all be encouraged by the fact that good stuff comes from getting our kids to step up and embrace responsibility. I think it’s hard to do what appears to be swimming upstream even though it was business as usual only a few decades ago. And what never ceases to amaze me is the load of confidence and independence that naturally results from the most ridiculous tasks. Just yesterday, I had two of my brood fight over who would get to water the plants. If I had known what a big deal ownership of this chore was, I would have doled it out years ago and saved the lives of countless greenery unfortunate enough to have found its way into my care. … I know you know that’s true!
Anyway, here’s from a mom realizing the same thing. I’m so happy Cara’s up for sharing with us what she shared with her readers:
Children should do chores as soon as they are capable. My grandmother was in charge of making the family bread at age 6. She was too small to knead it, so she used to stand on a chair and beat the dough with a rolling pin, gather it all back up with her little hands and hit it again. I’m pretty sure that if 6 year-olds can make bread and young farm kids can be expected to milk cows, gather eggs, and muck out stalls, my soft city kids can fold clean dishtowels.
It builds confidence in skills that they will need when they are grown and (god willing) no longer living in my house. We all knew 18 year-olds who couldn’t do laundry, sew a button back on, or use a knife without fear of losing fingers. At some point, they will have to do their own housekeeping. Until they do, I want them to learn to appreciate what it takes when someone else does it for them. And I want them to leave my nest with the skills required to make one of their own. Then, I’ll be changing the locks.
Chores nurture self-confidence (which is earned) and independence. Recently, Q asked if she could help make an egg casserole. Because I knew that she had enough experience in my kitchen, I gave her the recipe, reminded her to tie her hair back, and she and Bear made the batter by themselves. It was a banner moment for us all. They were proud of being trusted with a new task, and I was grateful that I had seen and taken the opportunity to let them try.
Then as if on cue, I saw this on our friend Jessica Lahey’s Facebook. Worth a watch – not only to learn how to clean a bathtub drain, but to be inspired that a kid really can do more than we or they think! Did I mention the child teaching everyone the ins and outs of this necessary life task is 7?! … yes 7.
Thanks for walking the road with me!
One more thing… I have some neat books that my wonderful publisher and ministries have given me to share with all of you. Things like Family LIfe’s Passport to Purity, Andy Braner’s Alone, … and more. I’m not great at give-aways. But everyone who sends me a pic of their kid(s) doing some sort of chore will be entered into the little contest. If you don’t have a pic, but want a book just share themoatblog with your friends (email/FB/twitter, whatever) and let me know. You can comment on this post or send me an email at email@example.com. We’ll do it for one week and see how it goes.
Here’s an example: Kids returning from the grocery store to snag the goods for dinner. Though complaining when pushed out the door, they were begging to return for more when they got home. It was a good road for both the mom and kids, neither of whom thought they could do it until they had. What else is on the “who knew?!” horizon?
Love it! To think I was nervous when my 12 year old son wanted to cut himself a slice of bread today (with a bread knife!). I let him do it but held my breath the whole time. (There is a history with this particular son which made me a bit hesitant to allow him to hold such a bit knife.)
I’ll be working on those pics for your give-away. :-)
thanks so much, Barb!
A friend of mine was telling me that he had found a pumice stone at a janitorial supply store that he uses to clean the toilets at work. My then nine year old son thought that cleaning the toilet with a “stone” was the coolest thing ever, my friend gave him one and from that day on (wearing gloves) my now ten year old has cleaned the inside of the toilet bowl every week :)
super interesting, Rachel. Definitely going to check it out.
I sometimes feel a little guilty that we ask our children who are 8 and 6 to help out with jobs around the house. They are expected to unpack the dishwasher every morning and do other jobs as asked. Don’t feel guilty after reading this in fact it confirms the other side of my brain that says they live here and make some of the mess so they should be expected to help. Thanks for the confirmation!!
Your book really did help me stay motivated to toe the line with my kids and not give up. I think it was because you were honest about how hard it was to push them and get them used to doing chores; they didn’t just fall in line, and sometimes you had to change tactics. With my stubborn eldest, I was about ready to give up after 3 months of daily standoffs. Then a child therapist friend of mine told me that it was perfectly normal for a kid to fight this long and that, if I was consistent, it might take up to a year before she would bend to my rules. I may have whimpered. But look- it only took 10 months! Easy! ;)