“I AM NOT THE MAID” is something that I have, ahem, yelled, a few times, mostly during the school holidays when I feel like my kids have started to take the presence of their mother, aka the cook, cleaner, provider of clean laundry and all other things, for granted.
My kids are almost 8 and 11. We have instituted some rules.
My kids do chores and are learning skills. Both my kids. I firmly believe that both sexes need to learn how to keep a house clean and tidy, do perform various domestic tasks, to be able to cook basic meals, and do things like change light bulbs etc, no matter their gender. My son will learn how to do laundry, and my daughter will know how to change a plug. I want them both to be able to look after themselves when they move out into the world and also to be helpful contributors to any household they happen to be part of beyond that.
Also, they need to learn that the world doesn’t happen at their convenience and that there is work that is done around a home that doesn’t happen by magic and to realize that they too can make a contribution to the house. When they were little I didn’t expect as much of them, but now they are more than capable and can help out and it’s good for them.
I met a 19 year old a few weeks ago who had no idea how to use a washing machine, and who’s mother was coming down to her student accommodation to help her with her laundry every week and do her grocery shopping for her, because she hadn’t learned to do it for herself. This made me sad. Whilst I love my kids and will always help them, once they leave home, my duties to them, in terms of their self care and doing things for themselves will stop. As adults they should be able to do these things.
To be fair, when I was a student I took my washing home every weekend when I went home but my mother didn’t do it for me, I just wanted to use a machine that wasn’t a gruesome communal laundry machine in the student accommodation that cost a fortune to wash anything and used to mangle my tights and eat my socks.
My mother also expected my brother and I to do things around the house, in fact her favorite punishment for me, because she knew I hated it, was to make me clean the bathroom. I learned to do a damn good job and eventually to not dislike it, and felt rather proud when she thought I had done it to her very high standards.
She taught me to cook, meals that she showed me how to make, I can still make today.
I learned to iron, and ironed my own clothes at school and ironed at home to earn pocket money, when my mum wasn’t feeling well. My brother did too. There was no “housework is for girls” rules.
I personally think that if we don’t teach our kids to do basic things like clean a bathroom, vacuum, use a washing machine, keep a room tidy, and other basic life skills that keep a home running, then we are doing them a serious disservice. We parents are not servants and if your kids are old enough to do chores, then get them doing them. They may not do them perfectly, to start with, you will need to bite your tongue and let them learn how to do things well, but yesterday, as I sat working, and my children sorted dirty laundry, filled the washing machine, then emptied it and hung the washing out, I felt pleased and proud. It’s good for them, and it’s good for me. My children are learning that they can make a valued contribution to the house, and I can ask them to help me and know they can.
My plan is that by the time my kids leave home, they both will be able to manage all the skills they need to live alone or with someone else and not be helpless and hopeless domestically. I think there is nothing worse than sending your kids out into the world without these basic skills, and the assumption that somehow they will learn to do them is just stupid. I have met adult women and men who have never been taught how to clean, cook, and do the basics around the house, and it’s not cute, funny or endearing. You are not doing your children’s future life partner and family any favours if you don’t teach them how to look after themselves and their homes and to expect someone else to always come behind them and do things for them.
So, my kids to chores. In fact, as I type this, they are emptying the dishwasher for me. I am not the maid, they are old enough to learn to help.
And I am going to take them for a hot chocolate later, because I am kind! 😉
We do pay our kids to do chores, if the chores don’t get done then they don’t get their pocket money. There are basic things around the house that get done for no money, but we do feel incentive’s for them are helpful. Whether you choose to pay your kids to do certain chores or not is entirely up to you, but please teach them and let them learn, more fool you if you don’t….
Do your kids do chores around the house? If not, I would love to hear why?