Preschool Chores - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 04-28-2002, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
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A group of homeschooling mothers and I meet once a month at a coffee house witout our children to discuss education/ parenting issues.
This Sundays topic is Chores- how you get a preschool to do them, whats reasonable, what if they dont do it, how to make it educational, how to explain we all have them, etc.

I would love the advice of other parents out there. Good and Bad.
And book reccomendations are also always taken!

I will warn you- I have every intention to copy and paste the replies to show the other moms. I will delete the user name, and of course that means all the other info lkike where you live- but I will be taking your words. So if that bothers you, please dont post here.

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#2 of 11 Old 04-28-2002, 11:05 AM
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My perspective will probably differ from most of your replies.

My brother and I never did chores as children. The one responsibility we had was to put toys away after playing with them. But my mother made the beds, did the dishes, etc. Sometimes we set the table. That was about it. It wasn't until we were teenagers that we made our own beds and started helping with housecleaning etc.

My mother did not grow up here. In her culture kids were to play and there were extended family around all the time who did the "grown up" stuff. She didn't think it necessary to teach children to do such things.

I had a friend who's parents were very strict and she and her brother had tons of chores when they were quite young. She grew up faster than the rest of us, and I always thought she carried alot of weight on her shoulders for a little girl. I was glad my parents weren't like that.

My mother was raised the same way as she rasied me and, interestingly, she's a total neat freak and a "domestic goddess". I on the other hand, am really laid back, hate housework, only started making the bed when I got married, and am generally inept at being a "homemaker", lol. I'd be a wreck without the cleaning lady!

My personal feeling is that children don't "need" to do chores to learn responsibility. I may or may not assign them a few tasks to do, like picking up after themselves. But I'm going to really limit their responsibilities b/c we all grow up with such huge responsibilities when we are adults, and I'd like them to enjoy their childhood.


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#3 of 11 Old 04-28-2002, 11:08 AM
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My 3yr old sets the table. She counts how many people will be eating, figures out what kind of silverware we need, counts it out and places it (on top of a napkin ) at each place. If she says she doesn't want to do it, of course we don't press her. She almost always does it.

She is also responsible for picking up her playthings and putting them where they belong. Or, more realistically, helping me do it

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#4 of 11 Old 04-28-2002, 01:01 PM
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We do the same thing as mallamama. Ds counts the people, and puts out napkins. He also helps clean up after himself, but I need to re direct him from playing with all the toys back to putting them away! He helps with the wash too. I think he looks on these "chores" as play. He likes to count anything. He likes to fold the napkins at our place. He enjoys seperating the wash according to color, putting it in the dryer (or handing me the right number of clothespins), and sorting the clean dry things. He really likes to sort, count, and put away the groceries....almost more than going to the market! He also feeds the dog most of the time.
I think these things are reasonable for a 4 year old. I also think that a 4 year old can have basic "chores" like hanging up his jacket, putting the dirty clothes in the wash basket, taking his plate to the sink, putting his shoes in the mud room, and other "neatness" sort of things. IMO these things teach responsibility and neatness.
As a child, we had a chore list for everyday. I don't remember how old I was when it started, but I do know it got longer as we got older! The first chore I had was to make my own bed. I was maybe 4 or 5. Then I had to dust. Then added sweeping and cleaning my own room. By the time I was a teen, I was to sweep every day, clean up after the pets every other day, do all the dishes, dust everyother day, fold all the wash, and clean my own room. My brother had to clean the bathroom every other day, take care of his rabbit and room, mow the lawn, take care of the trash, put away the dishes, and feed all the pets. Both of my parents worked full time. I do not feel like I was damaged by helping in the household!
I would be interested to see what your group comes up with!

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#5 of 11 Old 04-28-2002, 02:02 PM
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I love this article:

Daily Work

"Doing work that has to be done over and over again helps us to recognize the natural cycles of growth and decay, of birth and death, and thus become aware of the dynamic order of the universe"

-Fritjof Capra

What a favor we do for our children when we show them the joy of everyday tasks. Young children love to mimic us in our daily routines. Sharing the rewards of our daily work now will help them enjoy their maintenance duties when they get older. It may also teach them that the goal is not to be finished, but rather to determine the right balance of work, play, and rest. About six years ago I realized that even if I could afford a cleaning person, they would not organize my things, do the laundry or do the grocery shopping. I was amazed to discover that even if we were “rich” I probably wouldn’t want someone else doing those things. (Ahh, but a great vegetarian world cuisine low-fat chef, that would be wonderful!) I got the unfortunate impression as I grew up that household tasks were chores. Somehow I picked up that housework and other daily maintenance were not a “real” activities.

There was no joy or sense of accomplishment in housework. It was drudgery I had to get done so I could do something I enjoyed. I have carried that sense of housework as drudgery into my life and it has been regrettable. As soon as I started living on my own I realized that I was solely responsible for the main-tenance of my surroundings. And I resented that once a task was finished, such as dusting, it would simply have to be done again. I was never DONE! As the years have progressed I have learned that I (as an adult) am also responsible for maintaining my health, my family’s health, friendships, relationships with family members, my car, etc.

In short, “Life is Maintenance”.

So, if life is maintenance and I’ve been taught that maintenance is just the stuff you have to do before you get to the real living, how much real living can I get to in a day, especially as a mommy? This negative view of the mundane has given me a lot of stress. I have been tempted to “enrich” my life and look outside of myself for the good stuff. The fact is that the good stuff, the real stuff, is in my sink. It is in the laundry pile. It is in my refrigerator and on my kitchen floor. It is in cutting my kids fingernails, shopping for their clothes and shoes, and arranging for their many classes and social visits. It can also be in classes or at my computer, but it is most real here in the dust bunnies under my bed.

Just as there is a heady excitement to infatuation, new people and career opportunities, the true sustained contentment in life comes from the everyday. It has been an ongoing challenge to give my children a sense of joy in maintenance, and I feel tremendously inept. I don’t believe in pretending with them about my feelings (I’m too transparent), so I’ve had to address my dread head on. But I have been buoyed by the belief that this is important to their well-being as adults: To see the rewards of a clean kitchen, stacks of neatly folded laundry, a shoveled driveway. And, thus, to learn that the kitchen gets dirtied, the laundry gets worn, more snow falls on the driveway. These repetitive tasks do teach us the “natural cycles of growth and decay”. We work a while, we play a while, we rest a while. Each activity is worthy, joyful and necessary to our well-being.

Written by Mary Joan Deutschbein
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#6 of 11 Old 04-28-2002, 07:13 PM
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I think it is important for every member of a family to participate in the things that need to be done. I think it teaches responsibility and a sense of working together for everyone's needs. My daughter, who is 3 1/2, likes to help set the table, sort laundry, cook, and dust the furniture. Rather than giving her "chores," I simply allow her to participate in whatever it is I am doing. Cleaning up her toys is about the only thing that is solely her responsiblilty, and I do help her with that a lot of the time anyway (after all, she helps fold my socks!).
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#7 of 11 Old 04-28-2002, 11:45 PM
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Piglet68 and outlawmama,

Your stories make me think of my childhood and the outcome. My father had little to do with my day to day upbringing. As for my mother, she felt that schoolwork was a child's job and that I should not be bothered with the domestic stuff. So perhaps as a direct result, I'm an academically highly achieved princess.

I am sadly inept at the day to day things that might make my house a little nicer. I do have someone in to clean. At this point I have little interest in learning more and while I'd love to have folded fitted sheets in my closet, I am sickened by the idea of reading Martha Stewart to learn to do it.

In raising Dd I think that I will not draw the line as my mother did. I wish I could hem up Dd's pants or sew a button without going into a panic. I'll buy something new before I'll do it. Or worse yet, walk around with my button missing.

Outlawmama, you put into words exactly what I would like to accomplish. I don't want to have a rigid list of tasks that are Dd's responsibility, but as she gets older I would love for her to understand the Tao of living that is found in the small maintenance tasks of life.
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#8 of 11 Old 04-29-2002, 12:02 AM
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My daughters are young (3yo and 1.5yo), but I make sure to include them with house cleaning---it's just a regular part of everyday life here.
Growing up my mom either picked up after us---it was as though a cleaning fairy would come around ever so often---or she nagged and nagged my sister and me until we finally did enough picking up to get by. She also complained a lot about housework. In other words, housework always had a negative tone to it.
I do NOT want to repeat this with my children. So whenever we clean or do any kind of house maintainance it's a happy time, even if inside I'm thinking "ugh, not another load of dishes"... In fact, we call them "cleaning parties" and after we're done I point out how much better it feels to have things put away. Hopefully this way my kids will just naturally do what needs to be done and not hate every minute of it. We shall see...
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#9 of 11 Old 04-29-2002, 08:59 AM
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My ds is responsible for cleaning up after himself (putting away his laundry, picking up toys and books, putting dirty laundry in the hamper, hanging up his towel in the bathroom) since he was 3. When we started I would help him, but his favorite phrase has always been, "I can do it, Mommy! I can do it myself!"

He will occasionally help me clean the bathroom or do some vacuuming, but always has the option of saying "No" to anything that is not directly his responsibility.

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#10 of 11 Old 04-29-2002, 09:16 AM
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I had no responsibilities while I was growing up. My mother didn't teach me how to clean house, do the laundry, cook. I was totally unprepared for life. College was hell. Then life shoved me into a family of 3 Italian women (mother and 2 dds), and I did nothing to help, and got in a lot of trouble and suffered a lot of anguish for it.

My dd is 2. She loads the washing machine, helps pick up her toys, puts things in the garbage, sometimes helps to set and clear the table. She asks to do these certain things, other things, like helping to pick up toys, are expected.

I don't plan on having a chore schedule. I certainly do not plan on paying her to wash the dishes or take out the garbage. I will teach her that if she wants to function as a member of a group - to be happy within that group - then she will have to help out like everyone else.

My ideal would be that when she is older, instead of me telling her it's her turn to do the dishes, she will just naturally go to do them or ask me if she could skip it because she has extra homework or would like to do some other activity. I don't want to be an obligation, but something she wants to do because she wants to participate and/or help.
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#11 of 11 Old 04-29-2002, 10:32 AM
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I grew up doing a lot of housework. We had to wash our own clothes from the time we could jump up on the washing machine to reach the buttons. By 11 I was doing all of the grocery shopping for our family. I would make a list (with my mother), go to the store, buy the groceries, walk home & wait for the delivery & then put everything away. Household chores have always seemed like drudgery to me b/c it was clear to me that my mother wanted nothing to do with them. We had a cleaning lady once a week, but the kids had to do the rest. I had to clean the bathrooms, yuck, my brother never hit the toilet & I could never understand why it shouldn't have been his job to clean them.

My ds is 3 & he feeds the dog. He loves to do it & will come running when we remind him . We pick up his toys together. He cooks with us when there is something appropriate for him to do. He gardens with us too. After reading your posts I think I'll start including him in more of my chores. I think the dailiness of living should be part of family living. I think I do so much of it on my own b/c its quicker & easier.
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