Thursday, January 31, 2013

Let Them Do Chores

Let's talk about housework and teaching "responsibility". I've recently stumbled upon what I think is part of the reason Josh (8y) wasn't "into cleaning". To recap, we don't make the boys do any chores. I will occasionally ask them for help with things, like putting their dishes in the sink or gathering laundry, but if they don't want to help I drop it and do it myself. I recognize that having cl...ean dishes, clean laundry, swept floors, etc is important to *me*. It may not be important to them at the time. And instead of *making* it important to them by creating artificial consequences like punishments or rewards, I'd rather help them learn the enjoyment of keeping a clean home. So yesterday I was doing some much needed laundry and Bug (23m) wanted to watch the water fill the washer basin and pour in the detergent. Okay, fine. Then he wanted to put each piece of clothing into the dryer. So one at a time, I handed him a piece of clothing for him to fumble into the dryer. Later, he wanted to hang each of his shirts. He would hand me a hanger, I'd put the shirt on, then he would fumble the hanger back on the rod. Then while unloading dishes he wanted to hand me each dish to put away. So I let him hand me one. fork. at. a. time. And here's what I realized. When Josh was little I never had that kind of patience with him. He couldn't do it right, or quickly, and I just wanted to get it done and over with. What an unrealistic expectation for me to have, expecting him to eventually get it done better or faster without any practice. While Bug was helping me with my "chores" they took longer to finish, but we were spending time together in enjoyment. We were enjoying each others company and the steady rhythm of "Heeah go!" "Thank you." "Yoouuu WELcoooome!" After I'd shot Josh down for years when he tried to help me or spend this time with me, naturally he'd stopped trying. I can understand a resentment to my asking him to help. I can imagine him thinking, "Oh sure, NOW she wants me to help. But when I used to offer she rejected me." It took a while of us practicing this "radical unschooling" approach for him to work up the courage to offer again, and now he offers to set the table, sweep, mop, vacuum, you name it. All this to say, don't discourage them when they're little. Don't think they're not capable. Encourage their desire to help and connect.See More

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