Okay, just so you know I’m not an advocate for real child labor, as in factory workers, child slaves etc. But I am a huge advocate for kids learning the value of hard work no matter their age. Now that we have that difference out of the way let’s dig in to the chores my kids do and why we make them ‘work’.
When I was pregnant with Hannah we hired a cleaning lady. I never grew up with one so it felt weird but I will admit it only took me a few months to realize how nice it was to have the house amazing and sparkling every two weeks. Fast forward to two kids, a busy practice and a house renovation and I decided to let the cleaning lady go. It wasn’t that I didn’t like having fresh bedding, clean toilets and spotless floors. It’s that I found we got lazy between cleans and then I’d race around before she’d arrive to tidy and organized. I’d still be trying to tidy up our crap as she was cleaning! Plus I wanted our kids to learn to do things themselves. I knew listing our house for sale meant we would need to clean all the time. Not just once every two weeks. In order to make that happen the kids needed to help pull the weight. So our then 2 and 5 year old learned to clean. They made beds, picked up toys, mopped and washed windows. Under supervision of course! But they still started to learn how their minimal help made an impact on the greater good.
When our house sold it was a mad dash to move, and we moved to a smaller home (a property we invested in to use as a future rental). So all our crap from 4000 sq ft had to fit into 2500 sq ft. It’s been an adjustment to say the least. And while we’ve done our best to declutter, purge and tidy I find we live in a dirty house more then a clean house.
This is partly to do with my third pregnancy as well. I’ve been sick a lot, lacking energy. But this weekend I saw a change. Not in me and my housekeeping habits (or non-habits should I say). But in our kids. Our now 3 and 6 year old girls cleaned for me. Dr. Hubs was working on a Saturday which is usually our deep clean day. I rested in bed and they folded laundry, made their beds, even cleaned the sinks in their bathroom. It wasn’t perfect but they tried! Julia who is 3 proudly showed daddy her clean room when he got home. He was proud and she beamed.
I grew up with chores daily and every Saturday my whole family (we had 4 kids) pitched in for a day of cleaning and yard work. It was near mandatory. Dr. Hubs was in a similar situation. His mom would make her sons and their friends ‘yard slaves’ (his words). And they were responsible for keeping things neat around the house.
Our kids now help in the yard, we try to get them to put their bikes and toys away but often times the yard looks like a disheveled daycare playground, I guess it could be worse! Every day they feed the dog and cats, give them clean water and water plants in the house that need it. I ask them to make their beds when I send them to get dressed after breakfast. We’ll ask the kids to do a ’10-minute tidy’ on their playroom. I set a timer and we all work together to get the toys picked up, trash cleared (often from craft projects), and clothes/shoes put away. I’d love it if they were better at sweeping and vacuuming but I know that’s a task that they just need to grow into.
I often wonder in our busy lives if we should hire a cleaning lady again. We have a whole team of amazing cleaning ladies for our office. But then I always answer myself with a ‘no’. Because I want our kids to learn to do things for themselves. I want them to know how to function, serve and be tidy members of society. And I’m sorry but knowing how to clean is a big part of that.