Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Chore of Making Kids Do Chores

When I got home yesterday Alyssa informed me that she did nothing all day. Nothing. At all.

She didn’t necessarily say this in a gloating manner. Her tone was more matter of fact.

Later I saw a basket full of folded towels and asked her if she’d folded them.

She reminded me, “I didn’t fold them. Dad must have. Remember? I did nothing today.”

Huh. Okay then.

Later that evening I thought back to when I was twelve. My seven year old brother and I were home pretty much alone most days while my mom worked. I had several aunts who lived mere blocks from our house and my grandma was nearby as well but Jason and I were basically on our own from about 6am until 3ish pm.

On those days, we watched a lot of television, we played outside a lot and about an hour before our mom was due home, I made a list of things the seven year old (!) needed to do and I did a bunch of other things, including washing our breakfast and lunch dishes, hanging wet laundry on the line, vacuuming the living room, picking up miscellaneous toys throughout the house, folding whatever laundry might have dried during the day and come in off the line.

I remember feeling so great about my mom coming in and finding the house tidy.

I wonder if I’m doing a disservice to Alyssa by not giving her a list of things she needs to do every day. I don’t think she has a clue about what Tom and I do around the house daily to keep it from turning into a chaotic mess. *ahem, my brother’s house coughcough*

She’s twelve, which means she’s perfectly capable of running the vacuum cleaner of the carpets every other day. She could sweep the kitchen/dining area floor, wash her breakfast and lunch dishes and even fold a load of laundry.

Okay, to give her credit, she does feed Bomber the fish every day as well as brush Orville. She also feeds Orville and scoops his poop out of his litter box daily. But that’s it. And those things have had to be drilled into her.

I really don’t want her to be the girl who gets to college and has no idea how to run a washing machine. Or who doesn’t recognize when it’s time to pick the crap covering the floor of her room. So, yes, I have some parenting to do in the next few years. Sigh.

See, that’s part of my problem. It’s easier to do things myself than nag my child(ren) to do them. It’s sort of like cooking. I have totally neglected to teach my kids to do pretty much anything in the kitchen because it’s more work to let them ‘help’ than it is to just do it myself.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about them, teaching them skills that will move them forward in life and in giving them the chance to feel a sense of accomplishment.

So yes, I’m going to get my butt in gear and start parenting those girls! Really, I am.

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