My mom was really great at teaching us to do chores. She gave us responsibility, but not too much, and helped us know what constituted handling that responsibility well. To this day, my sister Heidi and I joke about our love/hate relationship with wiping down the stove, because it was always the final step in finishing the job of cleaning the kitchen/doing the dishes–and doing it *right*. I still hate wiping down the stove.
Our kids are ages 6 and 8. They are amazing, AMAZING at making their bed without prompting. They are really good at picking up toys, with only occasional prompting. They put clothes in the hamper (we are working at making them not inside-out). It is time for them to learn to do chores. There are great lists out there about age appropriate chores and I am inspired by the amazing systems some of my friends have created for their kids.
Except…I don’t really mind doing things for the kids. It’s still shiny and new to pack their lunches (most days) and fold their tiny colorful underwear and skinny waisted pants and school uniforms. And I don’t mind because they’re little and doing acts of service for them is part of how I show them love.
Except…since we only have them 50% of the time, I find that I don’t want to “waste” time teaching them how to fold clothes and sweep the floor. What a classic divorce/shared custody problem, right? I am familiar with the cliche (and have witnessed it, having dated a few divorced dads in my lifetime) of dads with custody every other weekend who turn it into a mini staycation of fun activities in town. I always judged that so harshly and yet now I understand it so much more clearly. It would be SO EASY to fall into a pattern of entertainment and fun-driven activities when we only have the kids an average of two school nights per week. And every other weekend? It’s hard not to pack it full of fun, kid-centric activities.
Except…I know I’m not doing them any favors if I don’t teach them how to empty the trash and load the dishwasher. Nor am I helping them if I fill our calendar with fun activities and no room for play or creativity or downtime.
So we have created mini chores for each day they’re with us so that we can be intentional about them learning these important life skills and avoiding a sense of entitlement. And along the way, we’ve discovered that Yoseph loves to cook. And Ana likes to do laundry. And they both like to put new liners in the trash and recycling. And no one likes to sweep the floor.
This is our chalkboard wall, which probably merits its own blog post. The kids absolutely love it. It’s where Ana runs when she gets to our house to see what’s on the docket.
So…chores. Sigh. Raising productive adults takes work, right? And if that means the laundry takes twice as long so that I can fold sheets and blankets with Ana they way my mom did with me, then surely I’m doing something right…right?