Yesterday a minor row ensued when I was trying to unload the car with the Mister and after all carrying in one measly bag each, the kids scattered. A and J then were far too preoccupied with stuffing their faces to help unload or unpack (their stuff), and in fact A rather irritatingly still has a suitcase full of laundry. Apparently it was too much to ask to expect them to give me a hand, even just throwing clothes in front of the machine for me to wash, though J did eventually unpack and bring me his dirty laundry.
This made me think about what the kids do around the house, and what I expect of them. The other day my friend remarked that her teenage daughter didn't like doing the washing up or cleaning the bathroom (the only two jobs she has to do around the house, the bathroom being a weekly thing). I think that's perfectly reasonable, they are a small household of three, so I do think that that's fair. For us, we are a much busier household of seven so there are more jobs, more mess and more chaos.
So what are reasonable expectations from the kids in terms of housework without expecting them to "do my job", as it were?
A (14) & J (12) are responsible for loading and unloading the dishwasher, but not all of the time. I also expect (all of) them to keep their bedrooms in a reasonable state, and to put their dirty laundry in the basket. Also, to put their clean laundry away after I bring it to their rooms.
Occasionally I ask either A or J to run up the shop to get bread/milk/whatever (the shop is almost directly opposite our house).
A also does the weekly walk to swimming lessons for L (9) & H (7), but she is paid for that, and it is so that I can have dinner ready because the lessons are currently at 6pm which is a bit awkward for us in terms of mealtimes. I don't expect them to cook or prepare meals though they do help me sometimes, chopping veg or fetching from the fridge or freezer. Teaching them to cook & bake is the point of that exercise, learning new skills, not for them to do it for me.
J does the recycling, although more often than not H jumps in & does it first because he likes to earn money and they get 20p a job. Jobs can be making their bed, or putting their toys away, or like I said, taking the recycling out to the bins. H has learned that the more he does, the more he earns, which is exactly the point I wanted to make.
A (who is sitting with me writing this post, reminding me that SHE ALWAYS HAS TO DO EVERYTHING) would also like me to point out that she makes me coffees, however I said that that is a fair trade for you know, feeding her & buying her clothes and shoes and bags. I also don't EXPECT her to make them, I ask and she does. I feel I should remind her that we pay her monthly phone contract, which is definitely worth a few coffees.
I do the majority of dog care at the moment because she's so little there isn't much TO do yet besides feeding & bathing her. A is in charge of the hamsters although they are technically L's, because everyone else is scared of them. Including me. They bite.
I might ask them to "pick up" in the living room if hurricane E has been having a particularly enthusiastic play time in there and I am otherwise engaged. Or to wipe the counters or table in the kitchen after they've loaded the dishwasher. I expect E to tidy her toys away when she is finished playing, sometimes it takes some persuasion but mostly she is keen to help. This stage doesn't last forever, I am enjoying it for now.
Sometimes they are met with screams of OMFG GET TOWELS/TISSUE/A BOWL from either the Mister or myself in an emergency. But I would never expect them to clean up after each other, change nappies or that sort of thing. That's not for them to do.
It can be hard to find the right balance of teaching them responsibility and learning to take care of themselves and their things, without putting too much on them. I won't wait on them hand & foot because I'm their mother not their maid, but at the same time, they are kids and shouldn't be expected to run my household. I do very much feel that this is my job not theirs.
What do your kids do around the house? What do you think is reasonable to expect from them?
How much is "too much"? Are there any jobs that you wouldn't ask them to do?