The Value of Chores
This house is an utter mess right now. No, I mean it. From where I sit at the dining room table there are three stacks of clean folded laundry on the table in front of me, two piles of school papers I just don’t have the patience to deal with, a few dirty dishes left over from this morning and books that I know don’t belong here.
That’s just my dining room table. I didn’t mention what the kids’ computer desk looks like or the race car track under the table.
The kitchen is no better and if I told you what my bathroom looked like you’d surely come over and stage an intervention. But this is real, this is what my house looks like when no one is keeping up on the chores, and clearly, we are behind this week.
From day one the hubby and I have been a huge supporter of the kids cleaning up after themselves. We taught them early on to put away their toys and not leave their messes lying about. It was easy when there was only one child. It was just a smidge harder when there were two… insert child number three and four and my chore enforcer self has been beat down with a blow up bat.
Let’s face it; sometimes it’s just easier to do things yourself isn’t it? There’s no back and forth about why chores have to be done or whose turn it is to do them; you just do it and it’s done. But at what cost to you and your family?
For you (okay me… but you too!) it means less time to focus on the things you want to do. A large number of my friends run their own business at home or are stay at home moms. Pick up after kids all day (whether they are home or not with you is irrelevant) and see how much time you have left for yourself.
Choosing to handle all of the household chores on your own will quickly leave you feeling resentful, tired, and just darn crabby (no one likes a crabby mom).
For the kids it means they skate through their day (and maybe even life later on) not understanding the hard work of what it takes to manage their own things and a household. They are left with little sense of responsibility, respect for, and the value of things. Yes, I know that materialistic things in the grand scheme of life hold no true value but we’re talking about the value of caring for things so that they last longer and we can enjoy them while we have them (and the cost to replace them when we don’t care for them). When we take on all of the household chores ourselves (or with our spouses), we unwittingly have created generation gimme and no one really wants or needs that from our future generations.
At one point I was chastised for making my kids do chores. They thought my kids had too many chores and that my husband and I were mean for making the kids help clean the bathroom or sweep the floors or dust and at one point it bothered me so that I too began to question; do we make them do too much? I can with all assuredness and confidence now say NO. They don’t have too many chores. This house doesn’t run itself. (I dont know one that does, do you?) It takes all the people living in it to make it run efficiently. When we don’t all chip in and do our part and take turns with the household chores we wind up with a dining room table that we can’t eat at, a bathroom that should be condemned by the health department and we'd be eating dinner with our fingers… on a napkin no less.
The real value and maybe even the hidden value of chores is that sooner or later it does pay off. The kids will pass it on to their own kids one day, they will call each other out when one of them has left a mess behind (hey they don’t want to be stuck cleaning that up!) and they will learn to take care of not just their things, but everyone’s things in the house. Things can be replaced of course but not for free and the better we care for our things, the longer they will last and we show each other that we care about each other and what we do have. Keeping up on the chores in the house will pay us back tenfold with a safe and comfortable place to live and more time to spend with each other.
I admit I don’t like to do chores either (writing this is just a clever way to put off all those dishes in the sink ya know) but I know that when they are done, I can move on to something I’d rather be doing.
What about you; what is your view on giving children household chores? Do your kids do them, if so; do you hope it teaches them anything?