At our house the lawn mowing is split into three sections. Front Right, Front Left, Backyard. It’s an even amount of mowing. Of our 5, the three oldest, 14, 12, and 11, are the ones that do the mowing.
“Kids! Come to the living room.” From different corners of the house they come creeping in. They know there are weekly chores to be done.
I read a post this morning by Rebecca Lang, another blogger. She explains why her kids “don’t do chores.” She acknowledges in her well-explained post why she takes that attitude. She further acknowledges that her approach works for her family, and it may not work for yours. Kudos to her for an open-mind to the controversial subject of Parenting 101. The Falkenberg Family falls into her latter category.
We do chores. Mowing. Dishes. Laundry. Vacuuming. Dusting. Picking Up.
“I have three pieces of paper. Draw one.” They take the slips and draw their section of the yard. No one argues. They learned long ago it’s a lost cause, so they set about getting it done. While one is mowing, the other is picking up the living room, another is doing dishes, and the fourth is folding towels. The house is alive with the sound of life.
The baby is . . . well, that’s another story. She’s not quite helpful just yet. She’ll get her turn.
Ms. Lang states that she lets her kids be kids. She makes the argument that forcing them to do chores may inhibit their ability to be kids. I think the wrong approach to choring may support her contention. You can’t turn your kids into your personal slaves. You can’t steal their childhood from them.
But I think the correct approach to choring, i.e., balance, disagrees with her. I have to agree with what Amy Morin, LCSW, wrote on www.verywellfamily.com:
“Kids feel competent when they do their chores. Whether they’re making their bed or they’re sweeping the floor, helping out around the house gives them a sense of accomplishment.
Doing chores also helps kids feel like they’re part of the team. Pitching in and helping family members is good for them and it encourages them to be good citizens.
Research from a well-known 75-year Harvard study examined what psychosocial variables and biological processes from earlier in life predict health and well-being later in life. Researchers found that children who were given chores became more independent adults.”
Now that’s more my style of thinking. It’s what our approach looks more like, such as this morning.
Our kids woke up today and I hugged and kissed them all. Mom is on a much-needed day off, hiking somewhere up in the hill country. So I’m on my own. I made the kids pancakes while they watched a movie. They laughed and joked while they scarfed down sugary syrup and completely non-nutritious flapjacks, hot off the griddle. Then they “vegged out” for another 45 minutes. When I felt like the time was right, I made the proclamation that chores were to commence. Cue up the “Charge!” bugle call. They all got to work. The soundtrack may have included a little moaning and groaning, but no disrespect. No talking back. No “I don’t want to!”
It’s an hour later. The kitchen is clean (their dishwasher loading always leaves something to be desired). The laundry is mostly folded. All three sections of the yard are mowed. Dad just has to run the weed-eater (I know you northerners call it a “weed-wacker” or a “trimmer” or something like that). Ah, well. When in Rome, right?
At this moment of writing, four of my kids are currently purchasing snow-cones from a neighbor’s snow-cone stand two streets over. They left here on their bikes after their chores to go cool off with more sugar.
If that ain’t lettin’ kids be kids, ain’t nothing gonna be! (There’s some cliche Texas for you).
I expect them back in about 20 minutes with their tongues and lips reflecting some vivid color(s) of the rainbow. The fifth . . . well, she’s currently chasing the cat with a loaded Nerf gun.
So like Ms. Lang says, maybe choring works for your family, or maybe it doesn’t. It works for ours. We balance the work with plenty of time to play, have fun, be a kid, or ride their bike to get a cold raspa (that’s basically snow cone in Spanish).
What do you do in your home? Let us know in the comments below!
Thank you for stopping in. Catch you on the flip-side.
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