I knew I needed my kids’ to do chores because I was drowning when my husband started working nights and I had to handle our 5 kids plus lunches, homework, house clean up, baths, and everything else.
Basically, I started a small sweat shop so that I could survive. My 10 year old puts away clean clothes. My 8 year old is in charge of lunches. My 4 year old’s set the table and help collect the trash. My 2 year old climbs and destroys everything. They all do something.
What I didn’t realize was how much my children needed to do chores. In fact, children who do chores do better academically, emotional and professionally. According to one study (reported in the Wall Street Journal), “young adults who began chores at ages 3 and 4 were more likely to have good relationships with family and friends, to achieve academic and early career success and to be self-sufficient, as compared with those who didn’t have chores or who started them as teens.”
And if you want your kids to be happy, chores can be key because it teaches them to take care of others. According to psychologist Richard Weissbourd of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, we are out of balance. He says, a good way to start readjusting priorities is by learning to be kind and helpful at home.
I remember doing chores as a kid. One of my favorites (once I was old enough to drive) was to do the weekly grocery shopping. I was free. I was alone. I could buy candy! But so many of us aren’t requiring the same of our kids. According to one research study, 82% report having regular chores growing up, but only 28% said that they require their own children to do them.
What are we afraid of? Free, reliable labor?!
I know what some of you are thinking – but I can do it all so much faster and better than my kids! Yes, but you probably could do their required reading faster than them too but I bet you make them do it on their own, right? That was a stumbling block for me. I felt like I didn’t have the patience to let them do their chores slowly and imperfectly. But I’m learning to let go.
Okay, here is your cheat sheet (courtesy of Why Children Need Chores) for getting started. And I’m implementing some of these ideas in my small sweat shop immediately!
Homework and after school activities should not trump chores. That’s right. Chores are just as important so make sure they get done. You can even schedule them on your calendar.
Keep allowances and chores separate. It’s not a business transaction. It’s an altruistic act.
Chores should be focused on the care of the entire family (setting the table for everyone), not just self care (putting one’s own clothes away).
Change the language. Instead of saying, “Do your chores,” try to say, “Let’s do our chores.” Because chores are about taking care of each other, not a grunt task. Also, refer to children as “helpers” instead of just helping. Research shows kids like being known as a “helper” and this increases their desire to pitch in.
Be positive. If you complain about chores, so will your kids. Come on… doing the dishes isn’t that bad, right? (I may need to work on this one.)
Kids bring home a lot of stuff from school… like papers, art projects, lice. That sort of thing. But my 4 year old twins came home from preschool the other day with something I’ve never seen before. These…
Now what are those exactly?
Babies giving the middle finger?
Ruins from Pompei?
Crafts from a local seaside festival?
The perfect ornaments for the top of the Christmas tree?
Apparently (and I’m going on information given to me by two 4 year olds), a dentist came to their school and made molds of their fingers.
Now that I’m in possession of these clay finger things – are they a sweet keepsake of childhood or a creepy thing to hold on to?
I need guidance.
Meanwhile, have you been looking around for me? Here’s what I’ve been up to… I wrote on Alpha Mom about how tweens seem to be the new toddler (and why didn’t anyone tell me?!)
And on Lifetime Moms, I wrote about whether you’d prefer a male or female OB/GYN…
and also on Lifetime Moms, what Eva Mendes thinks is the number one reason for divorce. And it’s ridiculous…
1. My husband can actually take care of our 5 kids plus a friend’s kid (that’s 6 total!) all weekend. With the help of his parents. But still, I think most people would need the help of an army. So I’m thinking next time girls’ weekend in Rome?!
2. That apparently you can buy chicken lo mein in a bucket (see above photo). Just ask Rick.
3. That a DJ playing only techno doesn’t actually appreciate it when you ask for “any song that has words – like maybe ‘Let’s Hear It for the Boy.'”
4. Techno doesn’t get better as you get older.
5. If you’re going to crash a wedding, it’s much more fun to do it while they are still serving alcohol, instead of when they are breaking down the tables.
6. That no one will care if you take photos with big animal sculptures in fancy hotel lobbies.
7. It will be very hard to not make “Karate Kid” jokes to the poor waiters who have to wear these bandanas at a popular sushi restaurant on Lincoln Road.
8. On the upside, it is a great, “I used to have a crush in the 80’s on Ralph Macchio” conversation starter!
9. That everyone on South Beach seems to be wearing their jean shorts unbuttoned like this..
I kind of get it because sometimes you are just too exhausted to finish buttoning your pants in the morning.
10. That if a New York friend couldn’t make the trip and is dealing with freezing rain up North, she probably doesn’t want to be included on group texts that say things like… “Are you guys still at the beach?” “What time are we having après beach cocktails?” “Is it me or is everyone at the pool starting to look like Ralph Macchio?”
Back when I had my first baby girl, I never imagined that some day, my two oldest girls would turn the walls of their room into a pink bulletin board.
Yup, they just pin up their artwork, posters and school honors all over that wall.
I realized pretty quickly that this was their space and although I can make attempts to keep it somewhat neat, it will never look like this…
But still, I was unprepared when my daughter Dylan said to me… “We want to turn our room into a lounge.”
A lounge?! For an 8 and 10 year old?
But to clear up any confusion, my daughter Dylan drew me a sketch…
In case you have more pressing matters than deciphering 4th grade handwriting, let me do a recap for you. They are moving the beds to make room for the lounge area.
Which includes a couch, a swing chair and a beanbag chair.
The beanbag chair is clearly the focal point of the room.
There was no mention of feng sui.
I think it’s bring your own cocktails.
And yes, we are actually considering letting them do this. (Minus the couch.)
In case you missed me out and about on the internet, I wrote this post on dog anxiety for Alpha Mom…
And this post for Lifetime Moms on the belly binder trend. Yes, corsets are in vogue!
I feel like I’m losing a bit of my creative soul. I’m not sure when it happened exactly.
Sometime between my 20’s and when everyone stopped calling me by my name and started calling me, “Mom.” And I’m not talking about my kids. I’m talking about dental hygienists, doctors, class instructors and just about everyone else. “Hi mom!” they say, with cheery smiles as I walk in with my children.
Damn, I swear my name used to be Kelcey.
The funny thing is I thought I would lose a part of myself when I got married. I was an independent person and I couldn’t imagine how I was going to join someone in holy matrimony without giving up a part of me.
But what I learned was that although marriage meant more compromises, I could still truly be myself. Actually, a better version most of the time.
Then my husband and I had kids but they didn’t take my creative soul either. Just the opposite. Yes, they gobbled up time and stole my energy but they also filled me with a completeness and joy I had never known. Even as I type this, it is hard for me to fathom that my oldest daughter, 10, is already two years passed the half way mark to “adulthood.”
Even though these days, she is a roller coaster of emotions… one minute gloriously happy and then next minute expressing her desperate need for an iPhone 6, an Instagram account and her own room, to the next minute in a fit of tears because we bought the wrong color protractor.
She can make me crazy and yet, I don’t want her to leave. Ever.
So no, it wasn’t parenthood.
It wasn’t even the night I recently played Bunco, at long last succumbing to this intriguing suburban ritual of dice and musical chairs. It was something else.
I realized it one night at dinner in Miami. I was sitting there in this great restaurant, feeling the energy of a city and I felt more like myself than I had in a long time.
And I realized how much I missed stuff… off broadway plays, coffee shops that don’t start with “star” and end in “bucks”, photography shows, West village cobblestones, pre-war architecture, finding a great seat at your favorite sushi bar, people watching, city grit and a million other little things.
Courtesy of Grub Street
I miss the energy. I miss it rejuvenating me. I know, I am making it sound like a facial. But it’s about lifting my whole spirit.
I guess it happened slowly overtime, so quietly that I sort of missed it. As the years have gone by, we have for many necessary and important reasons (good schools, safety, affordability) moved deeper and deeper into a suburban bubble.
And although there are many advantages, I realized that it’s suffocating me a bit. And I need to free myself just a little before I spend too many days not feeling like myself.
So somewhere between shuttling kids to activities and finding the right color protractor, I’m committed to finding more city grit in my life. So I can be a bit more me.