Friday, July 20, 2012
Kids, Chores and a New Book I’m Reading
I’ve always had my children do chores. My mom was the type of mother who found she could do things faster, better, easier and consequently she did just that. I did not do my first load of laundry until I was 16 years old and then felt I was somehow being punished when she decided it might be a good idea for me to know how to do this. I did not know my way around the kitchen much at all, had no clue how to organize a closet, dresser, shelves, let alone an entire house. I was a bit of slob but really did not know it. If I left my clothes lying around my room by the time I got home from school they were gone. Having been washed, dried, folded and put away. I never thought a thing about the fact that my dresser drawers always had clothes ready for me and were neatly organized. My mother was an amazing housekeeper and homemaker. She just did not pass this on to me.
When I got out in the real world with my own home I was woefully unprepared. I remember how I struggled to clean and organize a little tiny 2 bedroom apartment and the difficulties I had trying to just keep 2 of us fed daily. Frozen pizza got boring very fast.
Of course I learned quickly out of necessity but it was a struggle. I still struggle with certain things in life (like closet organization :). Then I had 8 children… one by one of course. But as each child entered my life so did the level of work and organization needed to keep the wheels turning and the plates spinning around my home.
I knew two things.. 1) I did not want my children to walk away from home unable to prepare meals, clean a house, pick up after themselves, do their own laundry and so much more. And 2) I could not do it all without their help. Besides I’m not a fan of maid service for children who are old enough to make their own beds, pick up their own clothing, pick up their own clutter from around the house, put their dishes in the dishwasher, etc.
So I taught my children how to do the basics in life and my children learned how to work. As my adult children have gone out in the world to jobs and life they have, on more than one occasion, come back to me and said, “Mom, thank you so much for teaching me how to work!” .. they appreciate it because real life takes work. It is not always about play time and fun time. They got to see the whole picture. Work, clean up, play & fun… a nice honest balance of real life.
Now here is my current situation. I have 4 children still at home. One works full time and is not here most of the day, one works part time (nights) and sleeps a good part of the day. That leaves me with 2 full time children. And I realized a few months ago that there has been a shift in my own thinking. With only 2 full time kids I really can keep up on things without their help. And I started doing just that. Then I saw what happened… they began to accept the fact that I was going to clean it up, put it away and take care of it and instead of jumping in and saying “Oh Mother, please, let me do that” (ha, ha, I say that tongue-in-cheek I hope you know :), they just let me do it. That is when I realized I was walking down the totally wrong path with them.. I forgot those 2 important life lessons I wanted ALL my children to leave home with: 1) they need to be prepared for real life and 2) I’m not a fan of maid service for people who are totally capable of doing it themselves.
Now for the book I’m reading and highly recommend if any of you with children find yourself in a similar situation: Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wyma.
I started reading this and saw right away where I was going wrong. ~smile~ I find her writing enjoyable and her information just right on. The first thing I remember doing was going to my 18 year old son’s room and telling him it was time to clean it up. He had a number of excuses, “but I’ve worked all week” was his biggest.. and true he had, worked a lot, but then again doesn’t the rest of the world? And then they have to come home and take care of their messes… hello son, welcome to real life. I see quite a few changes in store for the youngest children of the flock… and this book has been very nice motivation for the process and I highly recommend it!