Tuesday, 26 March 2013

How much should kids help out around the house?


After our weekend away I am currently climbing out from under a mountain of washing and all the other
delightful odd jobs that you end up needing to do when you get home.

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.

When E was small (and indeed H) I would ask the older ones to run & grab me this or that - nappy, wipes whatever - if I was elbow-deep in baby shit (I so don't miss those days!) and couldn't get up from where I was.
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?

19 comments:

Ella Shaw said...

You are fab! I need a Mama Owl in my life! You're a saint!

Mama Owl said...

Ah why thank you! I just do my best! :)

Laura-Faerie said...

I think you've got the balance pretty much as it should be - It should never be about our kids doing what we should be but then they need to learn responsibility and life skills. Plus with the 20p incentive you're helping them learn the value of money and how it feels to earn your own money.

Ethan loves to clean and tidy and put things away but only when it suits him - We still end up tidying a massively messy living room every evening but if I do ask him he is pretty good. I guess it'll be a case of time to see how things develop with him, really :)

SarahMummy said...

What a great post, it sounds like you've got the balance just right. I think I need to start asking my kids to do a bit more, just to help them for independence in later life. At the moment they are basically responsible for their own bedrooms and a bit of picking up after themselves - and they do that pretty badly! At 11, 9 and 7 maybe they should be getting a bit better at it!

Mama Owl said...

Thanks Laura. It can be hard to know how to find the balance that works for everyone in the household, I think things are working well for us as they are right now x

Mama Owl said...

Thanks Sarah. Yes as they've got older I have realised that they do need to do a bit more, especially like you said for their own good when they eventually fly the nest! I don't want to send them off out in to the world not being able to take care of themselves, but at the same time I don't want to 'put upon' them. It takes some jiggling around but I think we have got there :) x

Sonya Cisco said...

What do my kids do aroud the house? Not enough! The 9 year old tries, the little one is too small, and the teen ditched her 'pocket money' chores when she got a Saturday job- obvs that means I don't have to give her cash anymore......in theory..... I must give them a kick up the backside!

Mama Owl said...

Indeed! I think a good trick is delegating the jobs that you *know they can do, L & H try it on with the "it's too heavy/big/difficult" but they're definitely better now they're 'earning' for their trouble ;) x

Multi Layer Mummy said...

I do most everything in my house, but my 2yr old loves helping mummy with the housework, loading (& unloading & not dropping plates so often now) the dishwasher, sweeping etc. Its very slow but maybe if I cultivate her now she will want to do it as a teen, am I dreaming haha. Already raised a boy to adulthood, most important thing for us was to teach him to cook! If I had 5 they would definitely help, wouldn't they, dreaming again??? xx

Mama Owl said...

I definitely think that encouraging them while they are little makes it easier when they are bigger! And yes exactly my point, I tell them that they are just too many, I am seriously outnumbered and need a hand every now and then ;) x

Sarah said...

H will sometimes get the washing out of the machine or drier. Both boys make there own bed (usually I go behind them and straighten it up, also keep there rooms tify they are 9 and 7 year sold) but the point is me getting them to help and teach them. Sometimes they'll help vacuum/sweep. Ellie has to pick up all of her toys/pens or whatever. And keep her room tidy (Again I usually have to go behind them and do it properly but thy're young, I don't expect them to do it perfectly lol) Honestly, trying to get my kiddos to do anything is massive fight - It's like I'm asking for the world.
I like your idea of 20p a job! :) xx

Mama Owl said...

I think little & often is the key, if they do a quick small job here & there they can build up to bigger things! We thought 20p was a good amount per job otherwise they'd cost me a fortune ;) x

Shahnaz MummyBeBeautiful said...

Fab....I think the kids should help...and it's nice all to support each other as a family....I say to my boy's I don't make all the mess!!! Plus it giving them life skills.

Mama Owl said...

Exactly! I couldn't agree more :) x

Melksham Mum said...

What an interesting read. I have just trained Edith and Alban up to put their pjs under their pillow, pull up the duvet, empty their water cup and bring it downstairs. That's it really! Oh, and clear up their crap after playing etc! They get pocket money when we remember. E.g. If they want a magazine they now save for it rather than us just buying it. We don't link chores to money though. I want them to do it because they should. Is that harsh?! It will probably backfire. They are only 6 & 4 x

Mama Owl said...

No not harsh at all. I've noticed with mine now that they don't just ask for things when we go out, they either bring their money or ask to borrow some which they pay back when we get home. H & L have also learned if they pool their money together they can buy something bigger (Skylanders are a popular choice!) x

Glenda Gee said...

I agree that children should have to see to lots of their own stuff. i.e. whose job is it to put washing away or tidy the bedroom. Who should help with family jobs. They will thank you later I am sure.

Suzanne Whitton said...

This is something we have visited and revisited on numerous occasions! We have just introduced a new regime with weekly planners for jobs and everything! My 3 get an allowance each and jobs are separate from that but expected as being part of a 'team' we all need to pull our weight. If the jobs aren't done well enough or a lot of nagging is involved, they are fined from their allowance. I am sure that I will be writing a post in this is due course! Thanks for linking to Oldies but Goodies :)

Jaime Oliver said...

This sounds so much like our house right now!! i am so re-evaluating who does what! x

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