Tour of Duty: Housework!
When our first child left for college I was in a panic wondering if he really, really was prepared to live on his own. I started rehearsing a list of house chores he was taught: cleaning a kitchen, grocery shopping, cooking, keeping a budget, scrubbing the bathroom, laundry and ironing, sewing on a button. It seemed that his “tour of duty” around the home made him ready.
As toddlers our children always helped pick up toys, removed their plates from the table, “cleaned” their rooms, tossed dirty clothes in the laundry basket—you know, age-appropriate chores! However, as they got older I used the slower pace of summer to add one or two house responsibilities to their routines. Let me share a bit of the plan and a few duties.
When a child reached the age of 11 years and was tall enough to stand over a stove and clearly reach to the back they were ready to cook meals and grocery shop. It began with having each child tag along during the grocery shopping day. They were included on how to plan a menu for the week, make a grocery list with approximate prices, read food labels, and do comparative pricing of foods. After a few weeks observing the process they were ready to go. They were driven to the store armed with the grocery list, cash, and a surprise from me … if they came under budget the remaining cash was theirs. Oh, this made for some unique meals for the family! We ate some off-off brands of food, mystery hot dog meat, cereal that tasted strangely like sugar-coated Styrofoam. Incredible!
With regard to laundry and ironing, during the week each child observed me sorting, loading and washing the laundry. Later, ironing was introduced. They were taught the value of caring for their own clothing. Because the teaching process of this chore took awhile I would usually save this one for when the children were not in school, but by the end of the summer they were on their own to care for their laundry and clothing.
Our four adult children managed college life and apartment living. Their tours of duty served them well.
As a single, working mom, summers sometime provided too many hours of freedom for my two children — once they were old enough to stay home on their own.
Just like my working mom before me, I left daily "to do" lists on the kitchen table. If they were like me growing up, they probably slept in, played with friends, watched some TV, swam at the local pool — and then crammed the chores into an hour or two before I got home from work 🙂
I just wish I still had someone at home for a "to do" list…
This is a constant source of contention with my husband and I. I am a step-mom, so teaching the kids regularly is very hard. I think I will take the kids with me next time I grocery shop. And I think I'll help my 12 year old with some of his chores (I put a little bit too much on him at this point.) But, I will keep trying to teach them the value of the dollar and how to budget (As I am also learning myself.)
I recently shared with a friend my fond memories of going grocery shopping with you. As a mom, I love the memories that are flooding back to my memory. This was good reading mom!