My kids are pretty good about chores, and I’m pretty good about assigning them. However, I’m as guilty as the next mom of sometimes deciding it’ll just be quicker to do it myself, or to think “oh, that’s something they’ll be able to do when they’re older.”
The thing is, they’re older now, if you see what I mean. They’re older than they were last summer, last month, last week. They are always growing and becoming more capable. One of the best things about participating in Girl Scouts with my daughters has been discovering, together, how incredibly capable my daughters really are. This year my older daughters built things with tools, learned to cook foods from around the world, and learned how to do CPR. But here’s a much more basic example: When Girl Scouts camp, every girl does her own dishes. Every. Girl. Even the youngest Daisies.
At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, a hundred years ago, kids were doing all kinds of chores around the farm and house that we’d never consider our own children capable of today. Why is that? Sure, we may not have a farm to run and we may not need to do the laundry with a washing board, but there’s still plenty of stuff to do around here. Participating in the work that goes on to make a household run makes children feel like they’re an important part of our family.
Those chores are also life skills. Some day, God willing, your children will grow up and move out of your house. They will become (fingers crossed) functional members of society. Boys and girls should know how to do a load of wash, how to cook a meal, how to mow the lawn, how to put together an IKEA shelf.
My kids are doing a fair amount this summer: between the four of them, we have one in an extended school year program for autistic kids, three kids in swim lessons, and two continuing music lessons. My two older girls just took the Red Cross babysitting class and will be helping out some moms this summer. Plus they have school work and reading to do this summer.
But all four will still have plenty of time to do just be kids: playing, swimming, making up weird new sports in the backyard, blowing bubbles, and staring at the clouds. Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’ll be doing watermelon spitting contests, because apparently no one grows that kind of watermelon anymore? Ugh.
One of the regular kid things they’ll also be doing is chores. Considering that they’re all moving up a grade in school, they’ll all also be stepping it up a notch with their chores and learning new skills. Kids that used to set the table will now learn to make a salad. The kids that used to make the salad will learn how to cook a meal.
If you’d like to help your kids take on more responsibility, check out my suggestions for 24 chores to teach your kids. Yes, you’ll have to teach them, and yes, it will take longer to teach them how to do it than to do it yourself. And you’re just going to have to suck it up at first, when they don’t do it as well as you can. No matter how OCD you are, resist the temptation to do it for them, fix it, or tell them they’re doing it wrong.
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