Today I am delighted to welcome Kelvin Belfon from Going Uncomplicated. Kelvin writes about simple living and encourages his readers to focus on the things that really matter like family and health. I would strongly recommend you visit his awesome blog.
Over to Kelvin….
Did your parents make you do chores? If so, do you remember shedding those long crocodile tears before doing them? Oh, those dreaded chores! I remember mine as though it were yesterday.
Before school, I’d have to help feed the animals. We generally had chickens, sheep, goats, rabbits and pigs. Then I sweep the leaves from the yard.
In the evenings, it was my responsibility to wash the dishes since there was no dishwasher. And, in my culture, you weren’t finished washing dishes until you swept the floor, wiped down the cabinets and counters and scrubbed the sink!
On the weekends we cleaned the house, sometimes literally from top-to-bottom, and did laundry. Because I was older, I would iron all the kids’ school uniforms on Sunday nights – over 20 white shirts, khaki pants, and skirts. I seemed like an eternity getting it done.
The truth is, I had it easy compared to others. Yet I still complained. I thought all those chores would have killed me. So, I vowed to never make my children do any if ever I became a parent.
Then I grew up and got married.
To my surprise, I actually had picked up a few skills from doing all those mundane household activities! Those years taught me discipline. I learned to take pride in my work. And, in many ways, chores helped character development.
I can’t believe I just said that!
But it’s true.
Household work can empower children if implemented in the right spirit. This has become clearer to me now that I am a parent.
14 Ways Chores Can Benefit Your Children
- They teach responsibility
- They teach discipline
- They teach good work ethics
- They teach teamwork
- They teach grit, which helps children learn to finish what they’ve started
- They teach problem solving skills
- They teach independence
- They teach ownership and caring for things
- They teach the value of contributing to the family
- They help children discover their purpose
- They help children take pride in their accomplishments
- They create teachable moments
- They create opportunities for parents and children to bond
- They create opportunities to fail and succeed in a safe environment
Resist the urge
Yes, chores have received a bad rap. They’ve been abused and used to mistreat and punish children. And if your childhood experience with chores links to any of these, the very thought of them most likely still conjures up painful memories.
I must admit, getting my children to do chores is a labor-intensive activity. It would be much easier to do them myself. And that would require no supervision, no frustration, no emotion… and definitely, it would be done much faster!
But what would that teach my child?
Today, I give my children chores without shame. But that’s not to say that I don’t struggle with this issue. How much housework do you give a 7 and 4 year old? In our home our little ones regularly contribute in the following ways:
- Helping sort laundry
- Setting the table before meals
- Vacuuming, dusting and polishing the furniture
- Emptying the dishwasher and putting things away that are within their reach
- Helping to put away groceries by washing the fruits and veggies and organizing cans in the pantry
- Cleaning their room (this includes putting away toys, clothes, etc.)
- Emptying the smaller trash cans around the house into the larger kitchen garbage can
- Raking the leaves in the backyard
We have normal children. Like many others, they are not always pretty playful and jolly, and occasionally, shed tears.
But that’s ok.
Focus on the bigger goal
Household chores need to get done. Period. That said, doing chores is more than just having our children clean their room or taking out the trash. There is a bigger goal.
Doing chores creates opportunity for parents to connect with their children. Informal yet deep and meaningful conversations spontaneously spark while working together in the same space. This healthy interaction is priceless, especially as children grow up and become more expressive and self-reflective.
In the same manner, household chores affirm children as vital members of the family. Children learn that they have a valuable role and their contribution is appreciated. This further tethers children to the family as it fosters a sense of belonging.
Also chores prepare children for adulthood, a major function of family life. The ability to begin and finish something, doing it in a focused manner, and even doing it correctly, builds character. Even more, chores help children become better partners or spouses because it helps them understand what’s involved in caring for a house.
Let’s resist the urge to throw away this valuable concept altogether on account of past hurts. Work together with you child. Laugh and make it fun! Treasure these memorable moments. In the process, you will be molding men and women who can do for themselves in years to come.
- What chores did you do as a child?
- What helpful tips do you have to help children do their chores?
Kelvin Belfon is a native of the island nation of Grenada. He and his wife and 4 children live in Denver, Colorado. Kelvin is the author of the blog Going Uncomplicated where he writes about the art of simple living and focusing on the things that matters most such as family, relationships and health. You can connect with him via Twitter and Facebook