You’re not cheating your kids are you?

Of course you aren’t. Because you understand that giving your child a set of chores to do each night gives them life-long skills that will enhance their lives, spare them from pink boxers, and even enrich their marriage.

Some kids are getting cheated… a lot of them. A study of 1,343 children by the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland, found a 12% decline  in the time children spend on chores since 1997 and a 25% drop from 1981 levels, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Now the kids aren’t even learning how to properly sweep the floor, sort the garbage, or dry the dishes, and this lack of knowledge, the WSJ says, will have negative implications in society as this generation ages. A study of 506 U.S. couples published in 2006 in the American Journal of Sociology revealed that U.S. marriages tend to be more stable when men participate more in domestic tasks.

What are the kids doing instead?  The WSJ cites more “worthy pursuits” such as reading, studying and youth groups. The article failed to mention, “time playing the Wii.”

Nor, did the article mention the truth.  Kids aren’t doing as many chores today because Moms of this generation got smart.  If you want something done right; do it yourself. This will save you time in the long haul.  The bathroom really will be clean and fresh; and so will the floor, and back of the toilet and under the seat, if you do it. This is far too important a job to leave to the kids.

So, inspired by the research, and not wanting to be responsible for any future martial conflict in their lives, I dug around and found it in my heart to spare a chore for one of the kids. My five-year old packed our lunches for the car trip during our recent exodus from the lake. He carefully made us ham and cheese sandwiches, patiently asking each person what they would like: Pickles? Mustard? Jelly? Once he was done, he labeled each bag with our name and carefully put them on each of our respective seats in the van.

He also knocked over the carton of oatmeal, while I was moping the floor, so the oatmeal got wet, he stepped in it…. you get the picture.

Did I eat my sandwich? No. As soon as I heard his starving, famished teen-aged brother with the bottomless pit of a stomach start asking everyone, “Are you going to eat that?,” I passed mine on to him. I didn’t have the heart to eat it.

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6 comments to “You’re not cheating your kids are you?”
  1. What could have possibly been the matter with that sandwich? It wasn’t that you didn’t have the “heart” to eat it, you didn’t have the “stomach” for it. ‘Fess up!

    It was tough to get my kids to do chores when they were young. But, all is not lost; you should see how neat they are now! My youngest became a “clean freak,” and my oldest stepson constantly complains that he has to pick up after his housemates.

    Ummm…can’t you find a chore for that child that doesn’t involve food preparation? lol

  2. I am astonished when I see kids who don’t do anything to help out around the house. My baby is still a baby…but it won’t be long before he’s at least helping to clean up his toys!!

  3. Well, I’m patting myself on the back right now. For a change, I’ve done something right. LOL. My children do have chores and have for years. Now that they are older they have some hefty chores. My son (almost 18) is responsible for the garbage daily. On Saturdays he has from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. to wash, dry, fold, and iron all of his clothes and bedding and make certain it is properly put away. On Saturdays he cleans the entire lower level (his domain). It must be spotless (to my specifications) including scrubbing showers, floors, windows, vacuuming, etc. My daughter (14) handles the upstairs on Saturdays and has the same jobs. Daily she is responsible for the dishwasher. Her laundry day is Sunday and the same rules apply for her. My wee one (son aged 7) must clean his room daily and feed the dogs. Saturday he wipes down the railings and all the blinds. Then he does outside work with daddy. All chores must be done by 1:00 on Saturday afternoon. I can honestly say that my kids can clean a mean toilet. LOL. Of course, if anything is not done to my liking, they get to re-clean the entire room and there is generally some additional punishment – like losing television for a day or something. Generally i don’t have a problem, but the kids have called me the “chore nazi”. LOL. No soup for you! LOL.

  4. That’s the beauty of Waldorf-style preschools and kindergartens–they are filled with those homely tasks that children don’t always see at home any more. Washing cloths by hand and hanging them on the line to dry, sweeping the floor, polishing wood furniture, mending clothes, etc. And the power of imitation of the young child leads them to love these tasks as well.

    I also work with that “you’re big so now you get to help with things” dynamic that was at work with your son and the sandwiches. My kids willingly set and clear the table, for example, because they can “do it themselves”. (Before I make them sound too perfect, they do not always do these kinds of things willingly, especially cleaning up their room!)

  5. Just the other day, we re-negotiated the chores our kids do, adding to the list. All that means is I’ll have messier stairs, dishes put away improperly, a less frequently walked dog, and so on. But I’ll be at peace with it (and do it properly behind their backs, when they’re in school).

  6. I like knowing that as a family we go against the trends. My kids have had chores for some time now.
    We have a chore book that I write in every day that lists the chores that need to be done by which kid, they check them off when done and if chores get done, then the full allowance at the end of the week is handed over. If chores are left undone, allowance is a lighter.
    The list of chores is trash and recylce duty, dishwasher emptying, dog feeding, the folding and proper putaway of their own clothes, lawn mowing and a few other light tasks. It’s important that they take an active part in the family household and be compensated somewhat. They get tremendous satisfaction out of purchasing a coveted item with money they have earned. It also makes them aware of the where their money goes when said coveted item is costly.
    Several friends seemed appalled when they found out the list of chores we give our kids in comparison with the none their own kids do. I find it appalling that people don’t think it’s necessary to show their kids they need to be active participants. I believe a lack of such adds to the entitlement mentality so many kids have these days.
    Our kids still have time for play and aimless daydreaming. And of course video games.

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