Making chores a part of our lives

Browsing through Mateo’s photos as a toddler, I realized he has been enthusiastic about household chores ever since. Except for cleaning up his toys, though. There’s always a reason why his toys are everywhere. Now that he’s four, we need to step up our game and make these chores a consistent part of his routine.

Research has shown that children doing household chores, especially those who started early (around three or four years old) are more likely to be happy and successful. Washing the dishes, cleaning, doing the laundry, the grunt work — are interestingly indicators of success.

What do these poor kids get from doing household chores? Among other things, we have:

  • sense of mastery, responsibility and self-reliance
  • sense of self-worth
  • good relationship with family and friends
  • academic success
  • early career success
  • self-sufficiency
  • become well-adjusted
  • become empathetic and responsive to others’ needs
  • work ethic

What these research show are simply a bonus. I knew Mateo had to learn doing household chores as early as possible due to my own experience. Chores have not been a part of my regular activities and it has become a constant struggle to make them a part of my life now as an adult (partly because of all the body aches that come with it and mostly because I’m so inefficient doing them). It seems the benefits of chores diminish when learned from the teen years of 15 or 16 onward.

Taking care of the home should be as basic as taking care of one’s self. The best way to learn this as a child is to see that chores are regular activities for the whole family. Living in a foreign land without household help made pulling this off easier.

I also had to hide my disdain from doing the chores. So I have indulged Mateo with cleaning materials whenever he wants them. This goes hand in hand with pretending that I like these chores — I am genuinely happy when he shows interest in helping me out while I truly wish I could outsource cleaning our house.

Having suitable cleaning tools for them makes it more fun. When he got his new apron, Mateo was excited and insisted that we wash the dishes right away.

He has his own broom, dust pan, flat mop, duster, floor brush (with long handle) and apron. There are cleaning sets designed for kids but I find them ridiculously expensive (although they look good). We simply looked for normal items that are small enough for a child to handle.

But our house is still a chaotic mess. Toys and papers are everywhere. I have to make doing the chores a consistent part of his routine. While Mateo still finds doing chores a fun family activity, we (or I) need a little more effort to tackle this thing called household chores.

To make doing chores a little bit more motivating, I prepared a checklist of the things he can do for now. In reality though, it served as my own checklist — the little kid likes ticking off his list and I was forced to do them as well.

I plan to cut the checklist into cards so we can change the tasks according to what needs to be done. Maybe even integrate it with routine cards. Stay tuned as I update and expand them.

I hope you like them. Simply drop me a message or comment for ideas and suggestions.



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