Thursday, May 03, 2012


Daboyz never had assigned chores growing up.  I know, it's a widely accepted hallmark of good parenting for even the littlest kids to have chores even if it's just to put their shoes away.  I'm not opposed, I just didn't adopt that particular principle in our home.
I always held the notion that we are a Family.  This means even more than the beloved Team.  Being a family means we are working together, not entitled to nor free of any particular anything other than we are and with that, we do...
As a full time homemaker for many years, I believed homemaking was my job.  The reason I did not leave the home and bring home a paycheck was because I was keeping the home running.  That meant clean, organized, meals, homework help, field trip chaperoning and duties as assigned ;)  If the Mr. came home from work to a messy house, I wasn't doing my job and that meant I should get off my butt and go earn a paycheck.  A home well-run by a full time homemaker is partnership.  A husband coming home to a mess and a wife who didn't leave the house to work doesn't have a partner, he has a burden.
This being my theory, I believe in the strength of character achieved by internal motivation.  One should be able to look around and identify what needs doing and do it.  A child might not realize that it's laundry day and there isn't a calendar saying it is, but I should be able to say to him, "Hey, do me a favor and strip your sheets this morning."  And it should be done.  Next week I might strip the sheets but look at my little guy and say, "Can you please put the clean dishes away?"  It's a matter of what needs doing now and who is best able and available to do it.  Family.
On those days when I don't need any particular hand with the household chores, my family is grateful for the luxury of just relaxing.  And on the days I do, they have always lent a hand with the attitude that of course, we do this together.
I never liked the idea that once the assigned chores are done, a person can walk away and leave others working.  We all work so we can all play.  It's not about a list of tasks on the fridge.
It's worked well for us.  My kids have learned throughout their lives to do the tasks of maintaining a home ad hoc.  My goal that they could some day look around and, without prompting, lend a hand, is working.
The Mr. always mows the lawn.  But when he's off work, we will often come home and find Mac has done the yard work.  Without a list on the fridge, without a text asking him to.  That's the goal.
Sometimes there's the request, and we have an unspoken contract that we honor the request.  We do not exercise the right to be martyrs and expect others to read our minds if we need help.  I don't resent calling the Mr. or Mac if I'm at work and asking them to clean the bathroom.  I have no interest in guilt as a motivator and find parents who use it weak and unappealing in their roles.  "After all I do for you and you can't even..." 
Even Jay, who has not lived with us for about four years, participates in the family's needs.  The other day I called him and asked him to stop at Walgreen's because I was out of facial soap!  And guess what?  He stopped at Walgreen's and called me back so I could tell him what to look for.  Silly?  Yeah, but still a credit to his perception of his role.
I'm not pro or con assigned chores.  I'm certaily not pro any kid being treated like Pharoah.  But for us, the mutual awareness of home and one another is resulting in an ever maturing strength of character and commitment that isn't limited to a list on the fridge.

1 comment:

Margie said...

I really love this post!

Phyllis has pretty much always cleaned the bathroom (on Mondays - I don't know how that even worked out, but deep cleaning bathroom duty is hers and if it gets done on Tuesday - eh who cares) and she does the majority of the laundry. and the rest is done when we have time to get it done. Being a working mom, most cleaning gets done on Saturdays... I said a long time ago "if I get no help and it takes all day, we don't have time for fun" and so keeping the house has been a partnership. Sometimes I do more, sometimes she does.

whatever it takes. that's it. And if you come over our house say... on a Thursday and it's a mess, I make no apologies, we live our life and sometimes things get neglected. Oh well :) It eventually gets done and no one is going to call hoarders on us!