That would be a cuter title if we didn’t actually have some mice in our house. As I grew up in suburbia where everything was killed to make way for shopping, those little poopers just gross me out. Plus, we don’t actually have a cat.
But I do have my husband, who had to go out of town unexpectedly recently. So, on the night he left, after feeding my kids ice cream for dinner,
and terrorizing the local goose family,
I totally rebelled against Joe, who usually asks me to leave the assembling of items to him (for good reasons I won’t get into now other than to say I generally like to “wing” it), and asked the kids to put together our new shoe organizer with me.
These types of projects are great for kids because the stakes aren’t too high. They have, what I like to call, an even Spiderman ratio (that is, an even power to responsibility ratio). The work isn’t too hard and the outcome, while not necessarily spectacular, is realized quickly. Plus, they can see instant results of their efforts which is great for their confidence.
In addition to reading, math, listening, direction-following (unless you are me), and stick-to-itiveness, chores like this teach the kids to contribute toward the common good of the family and that we all have a responsibility to each other to make a good life.
For me, that is the most important lesson I can teach them.
Kids want and need real responsibility (don’t we all?). Doing household chores teaches them all sorts of lessons that get missed in school. Like the fact that tasks don’t need to be assigned to get done. And that sometimes effort doesn’t matter if the job doesn’t get done because at the end of the day, it just needs to get done.
Here’s the question: are you raising “doers” or “takers”?
When there is work to be done do your kids leave it until asked or jump right in? If there is work to be done and they walk past it then they are making a choice to leave it for someone else to do. And that stinks. Because eventually it won’t just be you picking up the slack. It will be the rest of us. And that REALLY stinks. We have too many people in society already who do that.
I know. I know. You’re busy. You’re tired. They already have so many other things to do. It is much easier to just to it yourself, especially when kids are young like mine. I think that often. And chances are, most of the time the task will come out better. But I think of child-rearing and homeschooling like one big, long, humanity/citizen apprenticeship/internship. We are making people, hopefully fulfilled, competent ones, who add more to this world than they take from it. The best way to do that is to teach them to do real work with real outcomes for themselves.
Plus, if you do it yourself, you just don’t get moments like this where you 20-month old single-handedly halts progress with an impromptu game of hide-and-seek.