We have 6 days to go until our "official" 2008-2009 school year begins, and in preparation I reinstated and developed new morning/evening routine and daily chore charts for the children.
(Morning Routine Chart)
(Evening Routine Chart)
(We also have daily AM and PM chores, like kitchen duty, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, etc., but I didn't get a photo of it).
I am a big believer in chores. My kids definitely do more chores than other kids we know, although I would hardly say we are pushing child labor laws. In discussions with other parents, I am continually amazed by what little value others see in chores.
Here are some reasons why I think chores are valuable:
-Chores teach personal responsibility.
-Through chores, children begin to recognize the amount of work it takes to run a household.
-Chores create a "team work" mentality among family members, thus drawing us closer.
-They help keep the house clean and orderly.
-Housework and personal care tasks will be nothing out of the ordinary to my children when they are young adults.
-Teaching kids "work before play" helps them avoid the vice of procrastination in their adulthood.
-"Idle hands do the devil's work." If you don't believe this, think about how much more your kids fight with each other when they are "bored." An instant correction to sibling fights in our house is household projects (aka 'chores'). I don't make it sound like a punishment; I remain upbeat and excited, and that attitude typically spreads. "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down."
-Enforces the concept of taking pride in one's work, no matter how menial or dirty the task.
Recently I was read the Riot Act for my children's chores while at a parent meeting. The subject of chores came up, and a friend of mine was very quick to point out at "how many" chores my kids do: "They even have to do their own laundry!" she emphatically stated.
Now, this is coming from a women whose children do nothing around the house. And in my opinion, they are not particularly well-behaved children and their house is incredibly chaotic. So I wasn't too devastated over her shocked opinion on the matter (it actually gives me great peace of mind in the fact that I'm doing at least something right.)
However, I was floored when the other women (I'm sure some fathers share these opinions as well, there just happened to be none there), began bashing kids doing their own laundry. "I think we need to let kids just be kids. Give them a childhood," they said.
I whole-heartedly agree with that statement. Let kids be kids! That's why I don't have cable; I refuse to buy them I-pods and cell phones and personal computers;I avoid the early childhood exposure to sexuality that is running rampant in our pop culture; I make my kids play outside; I don't care if they make an arts-and-crafts mess in the kitchen, etc. But yet being responsible for one's OWN laundry ONE DAY A WEEK is somehow stealing away their childhood?!? Good grief!
Chores are part of the whole childhood-to-adulthood bargain. How else do they grow up into responsible adults?
I remember those kids in college who came from homes where they didn't have to lift a finger. Laundry was an unnecessary burden to them; sheets didn't get washed for months; having to participate in a Common Area Clean Up was a violation of their human rights.
I sometimes hear women comment that they don't let their children clean their rooms, make their beds, etc. because they don't "do it right." If they don't "do it right" in college, are you going to show up at their dorm room each morning and make their beds (because they'll probably expect you to!) Why let your desire for catalog-perfect rooms develop a child's internal monologue to say, "Why bother trying, I'll never do it right. Let Mom do it." These parents need to get over themselves! They only have these children a precious 18 years. They should take comfort that they can have the rest of their empty nest years to delight in perfectly made beds.
I also hear the argument that it takes too much work to assign chores, or they are home so little they hate to make their kids do things around the house. How about assigning a chore list that never changes, so that the kids know what is expected of them week after week. And if you are home so little that your kids don't have time to take care of the basic necessities of household life, than maybe the schedule needs to be re-evaluated.
Anyway, I could go on and on, but for now I'll jump of my soapbox. This morning when I gave Atticus his morning and evening chore routines, placed in a plastic sheet cover, his excitement was tangible because he now has some "big kid" jobs. Pride radiated from his little face as he used his new erasable marker to cross out each job as he finished. Call me a chore Nazi or whatever you will, one look at my little boy's face tells me that being given the responsibility of a chore is not a bad thing at all.