Many hands make light work. Well, so goes the expression but it doesn’t quite work out like that for me and most mums I know.
When you get the kids to help out — whether it’s cooking, shopping or tidying up — it’s often a much more stressful, messy and longer job (sometimes twice the length of time). In fact, it’s tempting to just do it yourself.
However, I try to give the boys household chores because it teaches them responsibility for their environment and a teeny bit more appreciation for what the adults do to keep the house running. Also, it’s how they earn their pocket money (between 10p-20p per chore).
When I was struck with shoulder tendonitis last winter, it was extremely painful to do things like carrying shopping bags and hanging laundry. To their credit, the babes (and their papa) really stepped up around the house and I was amazed one day when Ezra said ‘I love hanging laundry.’ Without irony! Mama’s raising you right, child.
Here are some of the ways I put the boys to work:
I get Jed to load the machine and Ezra to help unload it. When I had tendonitis, Ezra would hang an entire load of laundry on the washing rail (Jed handled socks and undies). Nowadays I still get Ezra to assist me sometimes because, well, he’s a laundry fan!
Tidying up their toys after play is a given (they don’t get chore money). But Jed’s main chore is dusting the TV (because he’s the one who leaves most finger smears on it). Ezra’s job is keeping the shoe rack in order.
They both have to clean their plates and load them in the dishwasher after eating. I got much better results with this when I told them to ‘make their areas beautiful’ after dinner, rather than just telling them off. Sometimes we make them clear the entire table and load all the dirty dishes into the dishwasher. Ezra moans about getting his hands dirty because he’s a fusspot. They don’t mind taking stuff out of the dishwasher — Jed gets the special job of unloading the cutlery basket.
It’s funny because as this hilarious post about African immigrants post points out, like many growing up in an African household I never used the dishwasher. My mother thought it was pointless, and we used it for storage. But since having kids, I’ve become a dishwasher convert and there are some handsome models at John Lewis.
When the floor’s not crazy messy, I get Jed and Ezra involved in sweeping. They love to race around the kitchen with a broom, dustpan and brush.
Both boys also help me carry out bags filled with recycling every week.
Every now and again, we have a big dejunking session where we go through their toy box or scan their bedroom for items well past their use by date. I allow them to keep one or two old favourites, but then we’re as ruthless as we can be in chucking stuff into ‘giveaway’ or ‘throwaway’ bags. Then the boys even help me carry what they can to the charity shop.
The one on our high street is next to the pound shop, where they like to spend their hard-earned coins afterwards. And the cluttering cycle starts again!
How do you put your kids to work?