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Hello! My name is Barbara, and I'm a freelance parenting writer based in Northern Virginia.

I'm doing research for an article about parents who don't have their kids do chores, or at least don't assign them specific chores. I'd love to talk to any parents here who fit that description about their decisions, and how it's working in your home. I look forward to hearing from you!
 

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My son is only five but so far we have not assigned chores. Right now, I just ask him to do small things now and then. For example, I ask him "please go put your shoes in your room" or "please feed the dogs." And we use a star chart to encourage positive behaviors. For example, "he earns a star for doing his bedtime routine and another star for reading a book (yes, he can read). We're going to start an allowance soon and we are not tying it to chores. He just gets money for being part of the family, money he can spend on his own desires. We haven't started that though. If we ever do chores they will not be called chores. They'll be called something like family responsibilities or household duties or just tasks.
 

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Hello! My name is Barbara, and I'm a freelance parenting writer based in Northern Virginia.

I'm doing research for an article about parents who don't have their kids do chores, or at least don't assign them specific chores. I'd love to talk to any parents here who fit that description about their decisions, and how it's working in your home. I look forward to hearing from you!
Hello Barbara, I have a almost 7 year-old and don't really assign chores. I find it too stressful to check up on it and am just not that kind of organised person myself. I just get her to help whenever I need it, which usually works. I do get frustrated at times when I feel I am doing all the work but then I try to just let go of it and not put myself under pressure. I have found that my child doesn't function yet the way of having to do certain assigned things. All she wants to do is play even if she does do chores or some schooling tasks she does it in a playful way. I guess all children are different and for some it works to be assigned chores to, however, I have observed many children to be similar in this regard. It often is a struggle for the mother to get her children do their chores and it often end in the child being made felt inadequate or the mother feeling not respected. I at the moment do feel urged to assign chores. I tried a few times and it never really worked. I decided to wait until my kids are 'ready' trusting that they are not missing out on important training but rather that we avoid unnecessary arguments and frustration...
 

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Hello! My name is Barbara, and I'm a freelance parenting writer based in Northern Virginia.

I'm doing research for an article about parents who don't have their kids do chores, or at least don't assign them specific chores. I'd love to talk to any parents here who fit that description about their decisions, and how it's working in your home. I look forward to hearing from you!
Hello Barbara, I have a almost 7 year-old and don't really assign chores. I find it too stressful to check up on it and am just not that kind of organised person myself. I just get her to help whenever I need it, which usually works. I do get frustrated at times when I feel I am doing all the work but then I try to just let go of it and not put myself under pressure. I have found that my child doesn't function yet the way of having to do certain assigned things. All she wants to do is play even if she does do chores or some schooling tasks she does it in a playful way. I guess all children are different and for some it works to be assigned chores to, however, I have observed many children to be similar in this regard. It often is a struggle for the mother to get her children do their chores and it often end in the child being made felt inadequate or the mother feeling not respected. I at the moment do feel urged to assign chores. I tried a few times and it never really worked. I decided to wait until my kids are 'ready' trusting that they are not missing out on important training but rather that we avoid unnecessary arguments and frustration...
 

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Never assigned chores to our now-adult children. I had so much baggage from the way homemaking was treated when I was a child -- name-calling instead of "you missed a spot" when I got something less than perfect, things like that -- that I wasn't interested in the same kind of model. Was always a SAHM, which probably made it more possible. I just did everything. The problem was that, while I avoided being negative towards the kids I was still negative about the work.

When DS2 was an older teenager he actually asked me something about why we never gave them chores. My response was that a major rationale seemed to be that it was supposed to instill a work ethic, and he / they had already exhibited plenty, so we didn't think it was necessary. Both of them were responsible students, very conscientious and self-disciplined.

DS1 (moved out over two years ago) is employed full-time; he and SO have a shared whoever-has-a-chance-does-it arrangement that seems to have fallen into place fairly for both of them. DS2 (just moved out this past summer) is a SAHM (Stay At Home Man) with a full-time employed SO, so he's doing just about all of it. ("When she gets home, she doesn't have to worry about any of that except I think I once asked her to wash a potato.")

Their food management is very good to excellent, I'd guess, stemming in large part from the survival skills needed to manage multiple life-threatening allergies. One positive result of that is greater nutritional awareness, and they both eat meals with fresh vegetables, little processed food, etc. They enjoy working with food and see it as a positive. They consider a frozen high-end organic vegetarian pizza or mac-cheese dish to be a shortcut or snack rather than an optimal meal choice.

Keeping a place picked up and clean may be a little harder. A mess with either one of them is more the-sink-is-full-again than dirty-dishes-on-every-surface. DS2 has a hard time with cardboard. He lets boxes pile up, plus we're still mailing him odds and ends from his move, so add the USPS corrugated to the cracker boxes, and that takes a little real estate. He and I have talked a couple of times about him wanting to keep on top of it more. I've been open about how my negative attitude towards cleaning didn't help him or his brother any, and I talk a little about shifts in assumptions that have made me happy.

My major regret is that it took me so long to overcome the idea of housekeeping as drudgery or punishment rather than self-tending -- so there's a little baggage I passed down to my own kids, but fortunately not about them.

The main things I only figured out in the last couple of years and am now trying to give my kids are:

- there is no shrink-wrapped state of completion (i.e. you don't "get it clean," you "keep it clean")
- the work you do is a form of self-care -- do it for the positive result, not out of fear for a negative repercussion (even or especially internally -- don't look around your place and tell yourself you've been a slug and need to clean it, just tell yourself it'll look and feel more comfortable when you take care of something)
 

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I don't assign chores normally. My kids associated chores with money early on and they would ask "what can I do for $5"...I didn't like that. I made a distinction between "chores" and responsibilities and told them I didn't want to pay them to do chores if they weren't keeping up with their responsibilities. Responsibilities include picking up after themselves, clearing their place at the table, emptying lunch box, keeping playroom, bathroom and bedrooms neat, taking care of their pets for the most part, and changing their sheets. I have to ask them several times to do these things sometimes, but they eventually get done. We don't normally "make beds" in our house unless we have company! As far as chores, my son is expected to take the garbage out, but he doesn't get paid for it, and I usually have to ask him several times before he does it. He is 12 and he is less willing to do chores than my 9 year old daughter. Right now he is working on a Boy Scout badge where he has to keep track of chores for a few months. Most of the stuff on the chart falls under responsibilities in my opinion, but it's a good way for me to make sure he keeps up with the regular stuff.
 
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