When I was growing up my mom required my siblings and I to pull our weight around the house. We were expected to walk the dog, do the dishes, set the table, sweep the floor, bring in the laundry from the line, clean our rooms, pack our lunches for school, etc. When we got home from school my brother and sister and I would each find a list of chores with our name on it that we were expected to complete by the time my mom got home from work. But then my mom got tired of all of us half-assing our chores so she got rid of the lists and introduced The Chore Box.
My mother created a box stuffed full of index cards that described the step-by-step directions for our household chores. For example:
Do the Dishes
- Unload the dishes if the dishwasher is full.
- Be sure to dry the dishes with a CLEAN hand towel if they are wet before you put them away.
- Scrub any food off the dirty dishes in the sink.
- Load the dirty dishes into the dishwasher.
- If the dishwasher is full, put in dishwashing detergent (NOT DISH SOAP) and start the dishwasher.
She made a card like this for every chore she could think of. I wonder how long that took her? So now instead of chore lists, she left us with welcome home notes along with stacks of chore cards. My mother loved The Chore Box. We hated The Chore Box.
I’m now convinced that my mother was a genius. I’m so glad that we had chores growing up. It made us independent and responsible people. And for that I am grateful.
I will definitely be following my mother’s example with Kiki. I already expect her to help with certain things around the house. She puts her own waffles in the toaster, clears her place, helps to fold clean towels, puts away her clean socks and underwear in her dresser, and straightens up her playroom before we have guests over. I don’t expect her to do all of these things all the time, but I try as often as possible to give her tasks that she is responsible for.
What kind of chores do expect your kids to do around the house?
I hope that Kiki is prepared for The Chore Box that will inevitably be a part of her future. And when she tells me how much she hates it, I will direct her complaints to her Nana.