How do you feel about chores for kids? While my kids have chores, it’s not the case for everyone. One of my best friends, Hillary, is here today to talk about why her kids don’t have chores.
I often share chore cards, chore charts for kids, and even studies about whether or not kids should have chores, so today Hillary is sharing a different take on it, and I love it.
Hillary said, “I think I can hear parents gasping across the web now!” Just like her post on why I’m my child’s best friend, it might sound different from popular opinion, but once you read it, you’ll understand.
As far as not giving her children a list of specific chores to complete… I’ve known Hillary’s family, including her children, for nearly 13 years, and I know that her children keep their rooms clean, put their toys away, respect their home, respect others, and take responsibility for their things, so I’m excited to share her take on it.
Take it away, Hillary…
Why We Don’t Give Our Kids Chores
In this day and age of increasing responsibility for our little ones, I realize I’m in a very small minority of moms who don’t give specific age-appropriate chores.
What, you may wonder, would make me take such a different stance when I see all my friend’s Pinterest boards filling up with cheat sheets for cleaning, weekly chore lists, age-appropriate chores, and ways to teach your kids to learn about helping out around the house.
Well, the reason is two-fold.
Like most people, the biggest influencer in my decision is history. Growing up, my mom and dad didn’t give us chores. Don’t get me wrong – we were expected to do simple things like clear our plates from the table, put away our clothes, and clean up any toys we pulled out.
BUT TO ME, THOSE ARE SIMPLY GOOD MANNERS, NOT CHORES.
Our children are taught personal responsibility, good manners, to help others, and not to leave things for others to do, but we just don’t do “chores.” By teaching ‘respect‘ and ‘manners’, our children learn to help out around the house, and they do so without being asked or told.
In our family, we were taught not to leave messes, and this is what we’ve taught our children, as well. We do not leave messes for others to deal with – we take care of them because it’s the right thing to do. While assigning regular chores teaches responsibility, so does expecting them to have respect. Both of these things are important and can be easily taught, especially when starting them with younger kids.
Instead of being assigned a list of chores, we were taught good manners and respect (and life skills.) I didn’t need a list to remind me to clean my room or help out.
I’m a big proponent of personal responsibility, so my girls are expected to clean up their plates, put their clothes away, etc., but I don’t see those as chores…just part of being a cog in the wheel!
When you make something on the countertop, you wipe it down. When you use something, you put it back.
Growing up, we were expected to clean up after ourselves, and we did. I expect the same from our children. We kept our rooms clean, we would pick up toys that we’d used, and we helped our mom because it’s what family does- they help each other. Cleaning up after ourselves was a habit that we were taught.
Just like brushing your hair or getting dressed.
These are things that are simply polite, courteous, and helpful to everyone, and it’s what we expect from our kids. It’s all part of a learning process, but we didn’t see them added to a list of assigned chores for a specific age group. It was just being part of a family. It was just what we did – we didn’t think about it; we just did them. Some are simple life skills that you learn as a young child, and others are simply having good manners.
I am a huge proponent of basic manners and tidiness! My husband, my children, and I all take responsibility for our things.
I never thought this was strange although my friends certainly did! They wondered how they could get in on my family’s arrangement! But for us, it was normal, and as a young child, I didn’t really question the reasoning.
As I got older and especially after I was grown and had moved out of my parent’s house, my mom shared with me her philosophy on not giving us chores. And honestly, it was so sweet and heartfelt that, as a mom, I can’t help but feel the same way.
My Mom Didn’t Have Chores for Kids, either.
My mom told me – “Hillary, the reason I have never given you chores is that, from where I sit, your job as a child is to BE a child. To enjoy the simple things. To learn to love and respect your life and others. To just play. To laugh. To have fun. To enjoy this carefree state for as long as you can. To focus on school and extracurriculars.
I wanted you to use your childhood to find a hobby you love. To encourage your passions in life. To own the responsibility, the world will throw at you even from a young age. But not to throw more at you by creating a mundane list of simple tasks you need to do at home.
Isn’t that awesome? She let me and my sisters just BE and enjoy our youth. She knew that there would be plenty of time for making beds, setting tables, washing clothes, and folding laundry.
SHE KNEW THERE WOULD BE MANY YEARS OF US DOING IT NOT ONLY FOR OURSELVES…
BUT FOR OUR OWN LITTLE BABIES, AS WELL.
So she just let us enjoy our time— to focus on friends and school and all the stresses that come with youth and adolescence – peer pressure, fitting in, dating, and on and on and on.
I learned to love the ‘work’ of the house.
All the while, my mom cleaned the bathrooms, vacuumed the house, washed and ironed our clothes, and cooked for us (among a million other things).
I learned to love the “work” of the house not because I was made to do it as a child but because I saw the value in it and saw my own mom’s example. I believe my children will do the same, with or without me giving them chore lists at a young age.
Will They Be “Neat” as Adults If They Don’t Have Childhood Chores?
Guess what? As an adult (a wife and mother of two children), my friends consider me to be the ‘Neat Freak’ when it comes to housekeeping. Children learn even if they aren’t given lists of chores.
I lived in dorm rooms and shared apartments with friends and not once did a roommate feel I wasn’t an equal partner in housekeeping duties. If anything, I always felt I was doing more than my fair share a lot of the time!
I learned how to clean toilets, make beds, and sort and wash laundry. I cook a pretty decent meal, and I can bake a mean cheesecake.
Even though my mom never required me to cook, clean, or do other household tasks, I always watched her. Sometimes I helped, sometimes I just watched… but the whole time, I was picking up the skills along the way. So when it came time for me to be on my own, I knew just what to do – I figured out sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, and everything else when the time came.
I think one of the biggest ways our children learn is in the example we set for them. My girls see me cleaning and picking up, and in response, they know things should be tidy and orderly!
And my 2nd reason for not giving my kids chores is this: Just as their job is to be a child (explore, find hobbies, study, learn skills), I feel my job is to be their mom. And included in that definition (for me) is to do all the things that would preclude them from doing their job.
One day, they will have all of those tasks waiting for them as they take care of their own children.
It’s Just Two Different Approaches to Parenting
So my point here is this: Moms who don’t create chore lists are not slacker moms who are raising irresponsible children, just as moms who create chore lists for their kids are not overly-strict moms.
It’s just two different approaches to parenting, and I think we have all figured out by now that there is no ONE right way of parenting. I truly believe there are different strokes for different folks, which is true with parenting styles.
So make chore lists for your kids…or don’t! But make that decision based on what you feel is right for your kiddos.
Not because you think they won’t respect you (I respect my mom more than anyone on the face of this earth). Or because you think they won’t “figure” it out…because trust me, they will!
The great thing about it is there are so many different ways to handle chores (along with every other thing about parenting, LOL!) that we get to do it differently and still raise great kids!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE THESE STORIES…
Age-Appropriate Chores for Kids (with Free Printable List)
Harvard Study: Do Kids Need Chores?
Thanks to the author, Hillary Cole.
Becky Hassel says
I really like this approach to chores. It reminds me a lot of Atomic Habits. Rather than teach your children to have a list of tasks to complete, the “chores” or “manners” are a part of their lifestyle. It’s a learned habit that they will have done for such a long time that by the time they are adults, cleaning will just be a part of who they are.
Thank you for sharing.