Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Daily Grind: Old Enough for Chores?

Last week, Haylei asked me for a quarter.  At first, I reached for my wallet to get a quarter.  Then I stopped and thought, "Do I want her to think that money grows on trees and that it's okay to get handouts, to ask for something and she automatically receives it."  I want her to realize a little effort is involved.  So we had a "little talk" about Daddy working to get paid.  And how that money helps pay for our house, food, clothing and toys (yes, I have to break it down for an almost-four-year-old).  Then we talked about how she can help me around the house.  While she loves to dust, clean windows, hold the dustpan and such things, picking up her room is a completely different matter.

Normally, I'd be the one to clean up her room.  I could be in her room for two hours picking up dress-up clothes, hairbows, and shoes; organizing puzzles, books and toys into their places.  I'd feel a sense of satisfaction when I'd leave her room neat and clean.  But that feeling of satisfaction soon melted into disappointment.  The storm would hit.  The tornado named Haylei would destroy the room and it would look like I had never touched it.  You can imagine how I felt - like I had wasted my time.

Well, I had had enough.  I decided to hold an experiment to see if she would get tired of living in a pig-sty and clean up her room on her own.  It was hard because my momma would come over and I'd hear, "you need to pick up Haylei's room".  Or worse yet, she'd go in and pick up Haylei's room.  I even spoke to a friend about the problem and she suggested shutting the door.  Just shutting the door on the mess and everything looked better.  She was so right! (Thanks Leah!)

Then it happened!

Out of the blue, I was reading a story to Hunter while sitting on Haylei's bed, and out of the corner of my eye Haylei was on the floor picking up books and placing them on her bookshelf.  I didn't say anything at first, maybe it was out of shock or pure amazement, I'm not sure which.  Next she picked up her dress-up clothes and put them in her wicker box in the corner.  After that, she picked up the dirty clothes and took them to the laundry door (we don't have a laundry room).  I was so happy and so proud.  She said, "Mommy, look!  I cleaned my room!"  I told her , "Mommy is so proud of you!  It makes my heart happy to see you clean up your room all by yourself without Mommy asking you."  Then I had her follow me to my bag and I handed over a quarter for her to put into her piggy bank.

We both learned a lesson.  I learned being patient can yield unexpected results.  I also learned that while I felt like I was wasting my time picking up her room only to have it destroyed a few hours later, Haylei was learning how to clean up her room.  And Haylei learned the fruits of her labor yields rewards.  I'm not sure if she felt satisfaction from cleaning her room but the gigantic smile plastered on her face meant something.   

I'm not sure if we'll continue to offer an "allowance" for helping around the house, but right now this works for us. 

"The Daily Grind" are posts referring to my career as wife, mother, bookkeeper, seamstress, chauffeur, teacher, baker & cook and whatever else life throws my way. (Proverbs 31)

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Tracey said...

We started chores with our daughters when they were right around the age of your little girl (and I have a Haley, too, by the way!)

It was VERY basic at first, as in I made her bed most of the way, but she was responsible for pulling up the quilt and putting the pillow on top. I showed her how to empty the small trash can in her room, then taught her how to unload the plates from the dishwasher and stack them neatly so that I could put them away.

As they got older, we designated certain chores to be done once a week for pay (emptying the trash, dusting their room, etc.), while things like making their bed each morning or picking up toys at night were just done because we were teaching them to be responsible people.

While it was a lot of work instructing them on how to do the chores in the begining, they are becoming more and more of a true help as they get older.

Didn't mean to write a book! I know that each family operates differently - that's just what has worked for us!

Have a great day!

Candi said...

Thanks for the encouragement. It's nice to read how others share responsibility in their homes. :)

Dee said...

I asked my son to pick up his clothes off of the floor, and he said, "where's Larry?" (he was our housekeeper that came every other week) I realized right then the housekeeper had to go and I had to change my plans! We all do the work now.

staci @ teaching money to kids said...

I don't think you will be sorry for starting chores. And you know that they must be ready when they start asking for money!
Come check out my blog some time, I have written many posts about jobs vs. chores, and stuff like that.


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