Chores For Children

Being a Stay At Home Mom, it's all too easy to get caught up in the "Hazel" syndrome, the maid in a popular TV series back in the 60s. Hazel did everything for the TV family except brush their teeth for them, and they weren't even really her family, she just worked for them!

Since your children are your "real" family, how much more tempting it is, then, to get into the habit of waiting on them hand and foot. After all, you don't work, do you? The word "work" when used in this context, is a popular term that refers to women who don't actually work at a paying job outside the home, and it's extremely misleading. Because let's be honest: You do work. You work hard. Just because you don't have an outside job doesn't mean you don't work. In fact, sometimes it seems there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done that you need to do.

But here's the thing---you don't need to do it all. Not all by your lonesome, anyway. First of all, it's bad for you to shoulder all of the work load yourself. It's exhausting, stressful, demeaning and downright unfair. Besides that, it isn't even fair to your family. You have a responsibility to teach your children certain things. One of the most useful things you can instill in your children is a good work ethic. They need to be taught that there's no free lunch. One day they'll be grown up and will almost certainly need to earn a living. When that day comes, do you think they'll find a job where everybody else does all the work while they just sit there? Not hardly.

They need to learn how to pull their own weight, to learn about responsibilities and working together with others to get a job done. Not teaching kids these things is doing them a grave injustice, because if they have to learn those lessons later in life, it will be a rude awakening and will undoubtedly cause them a great deal of unhappiness and conflict with others in the process.

Far better to start now, while they're young and impressionable, to provide the foundation of good work habits that will stand them in good stead throughout their lives. It might make the difference for them between professional and financial success or failure a few years down the road.

One way you can teach your kids the value of good work habits is to give them work to do. Simple, but effective. Even very young children are capable of performing small tasks such as picking up their own toys, putting their dirty clothing in the laundry hamper, setting the table, etc.

Decide which chores you want each child to do, then make lists and schedules that clearly outline these tasks. Keep the schedules and lists where they're easily seen and accessible. You might want to have a separate list/schedule for each child with boxes to be checked off every day when his or her chores are completed. You might even want to implement some type of reward system, with a treat or reward issued when certain milestones are reached: An extra half hour past regular bed-time, for example, at the end of the month provided all chores were performed satisfactorily.

You'll find that children, like all of us, will blossom under the praise received for a job well done. So praise their efforts, let them know when they do a good job, and watch their little faces glow with the satisfaction that comes from knowing they are productive and useful. Everybody wants to feel useful. Adults and children alike, we all need to be needed.

By assigning your children simple chores, you'll be giving them positive feelings about themselves and their abilities and feelings of self-worth. You'll also be teaching them another important lesson: You're their mother, not their maid. They don't need to see you as a servant. It's bad for you and not good for them, either. They need to look up to you, so make sure that they can. One of the ways you can do this is to insist on their help with taking care of the home where all of you live.