preparing your children to leave the nest

Amy - posted on 09/30/2011 ( 20 moms have responded )

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I hear both sides. 'Let them be kids don't give them chores' and then I hear 'better give them chores and start young!'

Now, I'm all for chores. I'm all for playing. My kids love putting laundry soap in and turning the dial. My four year old folds laundry with me and hangs it on the line. my two year old puts the soap tab in dishwasher and helps set table....simple chores. And it's fun now and part of daily life.

What chores do you have your kids do? Do the simple chores of life help them become independent adults or should they be left to do nothing until they are "old enough"? and when is "old enough"?

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Vicki - posted on 09/30/2011

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I think everyone in a family should do their share of running the household, equal to their capability. So my two year old helps me unpack the lower half of the dishwasher, he feeds the cats dry biscuits, puts his toys away, helps me take washing in and out of the machine, sweeps up his messes etc He helped me wash the car today. Admittedly his 'help' isn't much help, but it's a learning process. I think the line between play and chores is really blurred in the early years. I wouldn't force him to do any of these things at this age, but he loves doing them and I like to think it starts him off thinking that everyone has to help.

Growing up my brother and I always had to look after pets, help with cleaning, dishes, car washing etc. It wasn't done for pocket money, just expected as our share of the housework load. (We got pocket money, but it wasn't dependent on chores) During our early teens we stopped having a babysitter when my Mum worked evening shifts so we had to cook dinners. This was great for us, started off we reheated leftovers but we got more inventive as time went on (only tried spam pizzas once though). We both love cooking now and even went on a cooking course together recently for mutual birthday presents.

Krista - posted on 09/30/2011

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It's all about balance, really. As adults, we need to balance work with relaxation and play. And we need to do the same with our kids. Yes, they should have plenty of playtime, but there's nothing wrong with giving them a bit of responsibility, either. My son is only 2, so I don't give him "chores" per se. But, if he's done playing with his blocks, then he has to put them back in the bucket. If he spills his milk, I hand him a paper towel to wipe it up, and he does so happily. These aren't onerous chores -- it's more to teach him that when we make messes, it's up to us to clean them up, because the invisible cleaning fairy (i.e. me) isn't necessarily going to swoop down and make the mess disappear.

JuLeah - posted on 09/30/2011

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When they can help, they should. They need to feel as if their efforts help the family, otherwise, what are they? Decorations?

They may develop the idea that they don't ever need to do for others or even themselves, and just expect others to do for them (see most of todays teens)

By the time they leave the nest they need to be able to care for themsleves and most kids don't have a clue ... can't cook, sew on a button, store food, wash clothes, budget, manage their time ... start them young

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Jennifer - posted on 10/04/2011

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My kids do chores. Now it's whatever I ask at the time, last year I was working and going to school, so they did a lot more. It's part of being a family. I tell 'em if they don't like them, they better get a good education and make money to hire a maid! They also need training to know what and how things are done. Good example- I once worked at a quickie mart that had a luandry mat right next door. A girl about 18 walked up to the counter one day with some S.O.S. pads. After she paid she opened the box and said, "do I just put one of these in the machine?" I told her they didn't go in a dishwasher, they were for hand washing pots and pans. She looked all confused and said "this isn't laundry soap?!?"

Stifler's - posted on 10/04/2011

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Mine will be doing chores from the start. Packing away their own toys when they're old enough to get the concept of putting the blocks back in the box. Helping to clean up messes they make. Logan likes to pass me the washing when we go out to the clothes line to hang it out and when I'm folding it and also passes me the dishes out of the dishwasher. When they're older obviously they can do that stuff all on their own. I don't see why they shouldn't, they wore clothes, they ate and they made mess. It wasn't all me so I don't see why I should do it all while they play or watch cartoons.

Adrienne - posted on 10/04/2011

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Both my young boys (9&4) have easy chores. The 9 year old puts dishes away while the 4 y/o does the silverware (no knives go into the dishwasher). They both help to set the table. They pick up their room and put their clean clothes away. The 4 y/o loves to help me with starting the washing machine on laundry days. They both actually enjoy doing their chores because they love to feel like they are helping out. It's also a good way to get them to understand (especially the 9 y/o) about working to earn money. We work on a point system and if all of the chores are done without nagging they each earn their full allowance.

[deleted account]

My son is required to do chores everyday. He does things I can't when I'm ill so that means he has cleaned, done laundry, cleaned catboxes, made supper, done dishes. He knows its' a 2 person household. I do what I can whenever possible. He has to do his part. Yes he's in school but Im at work so we both have limited time. When he gets a job and goes to school, it's going to be rough and I'm still not sure how I'm going to handle it but maybe I can hire a kid.

sorr y- getting side tracked.

I wish, sincerely wish, my mother had required me to do chores. I never had to and because of that, I had a very hard time adjusting to being a wife and housekeeper in my first marriage. I didn't know how to buy groceries - I just bought what sounded nice and would forget important things like, dish washing liquid and soup. I had to learn on the job and that wasn't easy. I think we lost something when we stopped preparing girls for marriage that way. Don't get me wrong, it's fully necessary to teach boys the exact same skills which is why my son has to make dinner and help me clean so he knows these things when he grows up.

Which is only a few short years away.

Karla - posted on 10/01/2011

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I can’t imagine not having chores for the kids. I do handle it differently than my mother did though. As kids my brothers and I had chores that we were expected to do, and if we didn’t she would yell at us. I all but vowed not to do that. For me, it’s handled as matter of fact thng, and with reminders. Also, on big cleaning days I put out a list, turn on the music and we all keep working until the list is all checked off. My kids gravitate to certain items on the list.

I find that it helps to do chores together, either as a family, or siblings working together. For years my daughters did their laundry together, starting when they were 9 and 14.

When they have their own pet (that they begged for) then they are responsible for the daily care of that pet, but with family pets they just help out. They take care of their own room, but I still have to help my son because his mess-tolerance level is too high for me, and mine is high!

I expect more from my kids in the summer when they don’t have school and homework. My youngest 2 are in high school now with very demanding work-loads, so my expectations are lower during this time of year. During holidays they are expected to chip-in big time.

My kids are in 4-H and have learned (or forced us to teach them) some woodworking and cooking skills that I may not have covered without that program. My son likes to bake, and my daughters love to paint. So that’s all fun too.

I probably should have had them help with cooking more often. When they were old enough to be home alone, my hubby and I would go out on Saturday for lunch, and the kids would “play house” and make their own lunch and have time without us hovering about. I learned later that they really enjoyed this freedom. It’s empowering to people to know they can do it.

Sherri - posted on 09/30/2011

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My kids have chores to help keep our house running they are 14, 13 & 5 they don't have designated chores they simply help out with anything I need help with at that time. Letting dog in & out, feeding dog and cats, wash kitchen floor, bring down laundry, empty trash, dishes, cleaning the bathroom including the toilet, dust, wash windows. etc.

These are some examples of things that I may ask them to do at any given time.

Jen - posted on 09/30/2011

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My son is almost 3, and he doesn't have 'chores' but he's at that age where he tries to 'help' me do things like laundry and dishes. Sometimes he picks up his toys, I really should encourage (enforce? lol) that more than I do. But one of the biggest things that I think a lot of parents of young kids do that discourages chores is take the attitude of "It's easier to do it myself and then it will be done right" rather than wait 15 minutes for a preschooler to fold two towels haphazardly.
Add me to the "I wish I had more expected out of me around the house when I was young" list.

[deleted account]

I actually tried to 'give' myself chores when I was 11 cuz my best friend had chores and I didn't. I didn't have the self motivation though, so quit... and my parents didn't care. When they actually GAVE me chores... if I complained enough I didn't have to do them. ;)

I did live w/ my dad til I got married and did a lot of the cleaning, cooking, and laundry in my early 20's... Didn't stick too well though cuz I HATE all that stuff. ;)

[deleted account]

My 3.5 year olds chores are 'pick up toys', 'pick up clothes', and 'help as needed' (pretty much covers everything lol).

My almost 10 year olds have quite a bit more... daily chores like doing homework, being in charge of their lunch (either school lunch or making their own if they don't like the school's), one has to 'quick check' the office and the other has to 'quick check' the living room (just make sure it's not thrashed before bedtime). They help me w/ laundry or do it themselves. Other stuff too.

My kids make over 90% of the mess in this house, so you'd better believe they have to do a lot of the work. ;)

Lady Heather - posted on 09/30/2011

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Oh yeah, I definitely want my girls to learn the "manly skills". Neither of my parents were handy. They called in the pros for every little job. Consequently, I am entirely clueless about most things. Fortunately I have a very handy husband who is helping me learn how to do everything. We have had a billion things go wrong with the house and done craploads of renos and we've only called pros twice. Once was for the gas fireplace because the husband tried forever and couldn't figure it out and then the other time was the plumber because our snake wasn't long enough and the plumber was cheaper than buying a fancy new snake. I don't even know how much money we've saved because of his skills. Tons.

Lady Heather - posted on 09/30/2011

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Yeah, I don't want to turn out a new adult into the world who can't do laundry or make a decent meal. 2 year olds can't do much on their own obviously, but she either takes part in or watches everything I do around the house. At this age they really enjoy it, so why not take advantage of that? Freja loooooves cooking and baking time. She can mash a banana for banana bread like a pro. ha.

Sarah - posted on 09/30/2011

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I can't cook either! (surprise surprise!) I tend to leave that to my husband.

I have a weird eating disorder type thing though, so that may have something to do with it!

Oh, and I don't know how to do any "manly" stuff either! I'm surprised I've survived this long to be honest!

Elfrieda - posted on 09/30/2011

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@Sarah

My mom tried to teach me to cook by having me help her in the kitchen, and I complained and so finally she said, "Okay, go help your father in the garage" and never tried again. :(



So I learned a bit about the "manly" skills, but when I had to cook for myself, what a disaster! I still don't like to do it, so my husband and I take turns cooking supper every other week. I don't know if that's my nature, either, or if my mom just should have been a little more persistent!

Elfrieda - posted on 09/30/2011

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My goal is that when my son is 10, he can do all the basic household tasks and life skills. Not that he's responsible for all of them, just that he knows how to do them. Cooking, baking, cleaning, laundry, pet care, some sort of money management, fire-building, how to properly set a table, power tools, sewing machine, lawn mower, etc. Even how to drive, just in case there is an emergency.

I learned how to bake from my Oma when I was 3-7, while we lived with her. Of course she helped me, but I didn't just watch, I got my hands dirty. Now those lessons come back to me when I'm trying a new recipe.

My theory is that building self-esteem by praising kids all the time is stupid, you should teach them to be useful instead, and then they will have good self-esteem. My son will be my guinea pig for that theory! :)

Sarah - posted on 09/30/2011

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I try to make sure that my kids help out around the house.

I was one of those kids who never had to any chores, I was never really expected to contribute anything to the up-keep of the house..........even when I got older.

Because of this, I was completely unprepared for life on my own! I didn't move out until I was 21, and the shock to the system of not having the dishes magically clean, not having clean clothes and trying to figure out how to use the washing machine came as quite a shock! lol

I struggle to this day to keep on top of cleaning and to keep the house organised. Part of it is probably just my nature, but I think a lot of it is that I never had to any of it.
I was spoilt in that way, and I really wish in hindsight that I hadn't been.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 09/30/2011

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I have my son clean up his toys, help make dinner, and help water the plants. He also has homework every night at 5 years old, so that is a lot in itself.

[deleted account]

kids should do chores because the earlier you start the easier it will be. if you have allowed your kids to be lay and do nothing until they are teenagers it will be much harder to get them to clean because they will feel like it's not their job. my son is 2, so at this point he helps clean up his toys and puts his shoes in the closet when he gets in and puts his dirty clothes in the hamper before bath. but as he gets older i absolutely expect he will help with dishes, floor cleaning,doing his own laundry, etc.

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