Parents, Doing Chores Won't Kill Your Kids

by Toni Hammer
Originally Published: 

It’s come to my attention that there are a lot of people in the world, both men and women, who don’t know how to do simple household chores. Like they’re 22 years old and have never done their own laundry, cleaned a fridge or an oven, and maybe don’t even know how often they should change their sheets.

This is an epidemic, people, and the solution all starts at home — your home.

In the name of all that is holy, please teach your kids how to do shit, and start early. My children are 3 and 4, and they’re already learning how to do chores. They put away their own laundry in the correct drawers. They match up socks. If they make a mess, they clean it up. Sure, I need to give direction and guide them and maybe help a little bit, but I’m raising them to be self-sufficient adults, because there’s not nearly enough of those in the world right now.

I know it can be torturous to watch your kid sweep up a mess. They don’t do it right. They take too long. They spill the contents of the dust pan before making it to the trash and have to start all over. I understand it’s painful, but we must push through the pain. We must work and teach through it. They have to learn at some point, and the cries of anguish are far more infrequent when you start them young.

The other day I made a sensory play thingy using a cake pan and salt for each of my kids to enjoy. They were having fun, I was drinking coffee, and life was good. Then my 3-year-old son accidentally spilled some of the salt all over the table. Did he cry? Did he throw a fit? Did he ask me to clean to up? No, no, no. He said, “Uh oh, Mom. I made a mess. Can you get the vacuum so I can clean it up?”

You’re damn right I can, kid.

I plugged it in, gave him the hose, and he vacuumed up all the mess on the kitchen table. He’s 3. I know some grown-ass adults who wouldn’t take that kind of initiative, and it is that kind of darkness I’m fighting against.

When our kids become grown-ups, their actions and cleaning habits will affect other people in their lives: roommates, partners, spouses, children, etc. I, for one, don’t want to raise a child who grows up to be that guy or gal everyone complains about because they never vacuum or load the dishwasher. I don’t want to raise a kid who throws their clothes in a pile 2 feet away from the hamper and waits for someone else to pick them up.

I’m not a clean freak, and I don’t expect my kids to be either, but I do want good chore habits ingrained in them from an early age. I feel like that is the key to getting them to carry these habits through adulthood.

There’s, like, a gazillion age-appropriate chore charts on the internet. Go forth and find one that works for you. Children are capable of so much more than we realize, and if they grow up in an environment where they’ve always been expected to do x, y, and z, then it will be less of a battle when they get older.

It’s our job to raise self-reliant, productive members of society, and that starts at home — your home. And it starts when they’re small.

Let’s raise a generation of kids who actually put their dishes in the dishwasher, shall we?

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