Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Teaching 5 boys about housework

My children are individuals.
My children are messy.
My children are loud.
My children are none of those things because they are boys but because they are children.
And there should be no amazement attached to the fact that mine do housework because they are boys.
Every child should be doing these jobs.
Boys AND girls.

Because despite what mainstream media would have you believe.....
Boys CAN cook.
Boys CAN wash.
Boys CAN sweep.
Boys CAN vacuum.
Boys CAN do all these things just as well as girls.
If we let them.

There have been a few articles lately about preparing boys before they leave home with skills that they need for life away from the familial home.
At first I thought-  Yeah, awesome!
Then I gave it a bit more thought and felt uneasy.
As uneasy as I do when I hear the "Boys will be boys" statement trotted out when young children of the male gender misbehave.
This isn't and shouldn't be about gender.
This is about doing the right thing.
About behaving well regardless of being female or male.
This should be about providing ALL of our children with the skills it takes to be independent.
It should also be about pitching in around the home that they live in and are cared for in.
It is certainly NOT about 'Making his wife happy'- this one I hear time & time again.
Actually I am not so presumptuous that my children will either a) marry or b) choose a girl as their partner.
And I am NOT teaching my children to do this to make someone else happy but because these are things they should JUST DO.
Some of the stuff in life that we do is not nice, it is not rewarding but I reckon we have a responsibility to do it.

My motivation is not entirely because I need help (although I am the first to admit I do!) but because I think it is important to raise our children with skills that allow them to be functioning independent individuals who are aware of their environment & their responsibilities.

If nothing else these holidays by working really hard on these things day to day I have realised JUST how much I do.
It's a crazy workload to keep on top of, which is why I don't.
I don't keep on top of it. At all.

This holidays have really also emphasised to my children how much I do and it has made it very clear to them as they fumble to try & find a clean pair of underpants, just why they CAN'T find any. There are NONE- because I simply can not keep up with the laundry.

We have implemented a new laundry system & we shall see how that works.
Each child has their own basket in their bathroom and the big three (16, 14 & 12) are now entirely in charge of their own laundry- of washing it, hanging it out & folding it and putting it away. No more blaming me when they can't find those underpants. It feels big for me. A load (literally) off of my shoulders. We'll see if it works in the long term.

And so as I nag day upon day to get them to do a little more, to be a little more aware, to pick up that cup they left with the assumption that 'someone else' was going to put it in the dishwasher,  my hope is that by the end of the holidays and as we head into our busy school year, that they will take on a little more of being a community minded house-sharing type of person.

I already bring my children up with a very strong focus on being a responsible community minded person- that we have responsibilities beyond our home to be a thoughtful, kind member of society and that being kind is good in itself, not as a means to anything more. That we have a responsibility to others.
I like to think this starts in the home.
One who appreciates that all the things that happen in this house they share with 6 others don't just happen by magic. And that their behaviour within this environment affects every other person in it.

Although I have always so wished that I could just wiggle my nose à la Samantha from Bewitched and just have all that pesky housework done.........


  1. Bravo. You KNOW how I feel about the "boys will be boys" crap!
    The limitations, restrictions and pressures, traditional stereotyping place on children, is appalling.
    And housework...blurrrgghhhh
    The phrase "I am not your slave" was utilised by me, quite a lot, back in the day. I really wanted them to learn to do things for themselves without the expectation that if they didn't, someone else would.
    I used to "do" the clothes washing, but the folding and putting away was totally their responsibility. I honestly hardly ever went in to their rooms after they reached about 12, their rooms their responsibility to clean, tidy etc. if they were pig-pens and stunk, I just shut the doors with a friendly reminder of how much mice and bugs love food crumbs. I would occasionally have to shuffle my way in to avoid breaking things under things on the floor to locate missing towels or crockery however! 😂
    Teaching our kids how to be aware, caring, responsible, independent humans is the most important job we will ever do as parents.
    Well done Madama R ❤️❤️❤️

  2. I am the eldest of 6 & we always had chores. Of course as a kid I thought it was THE WORST but once I moved out of home I realised how lucky I was. My mum had taught me how to be completely capable of running my own home. Then I had kids & wanted the to be capable too. My boys have always had jobs around the home. As they've gotten older the jobs have increased in number & difficulty. Yes they whinge & yes I nag but hopefully when they move out they'll feel capable of running their own home too.

  3. Everything you have written resonates and is so so true.

  4. A big fat YES Ruth. That gender based thing is ridiculous and most people just trot it out of their mouths because of habit, putting no actual thought into it at all. When that thoughtless talk turns into thoughtless actions ie. continually picking up and doing everything for our small people (which easily continues on well into adulthood), without actually teaching them instead (like you are!) we are doing them a complete disservice. Really, we are ripping them off.

    "...I think it is important to raise our children with skills that allow them to be functioning independent individuals who are aware of their environment & their responsibilities" ... Me too too. xx

  5. I'm 27 and have a 2 and a half year old who I am already trying to teach how to help a bit around the house, he watches us cook from scratch and helps me when I bake, he helps me unpack the dishwasher, occasionally puts his washing in the laundry basket (when he is feeling especially helpful!), gets the milk out of the fridge when asked and passes it me, scrapes his plate when asked and puts his dirty cups, plates and bowls on the counter for me! he also likes to try and help with the sweeping, mopping and vacuuming to varying degrees of success! I don't push him to do these things just encourage his naturally helpful and curious sprit! I never set out to make him do chores but it is helpful and makes him feel proud and happy with himself so why not? It isn't slave labour and this doesn't happen all the time but figure it is a good step in the right direction for when he is older! We have my husbands brother staying with us at the moment after being encouraged to leave home by his mum once he turned 18. He has no idea what to do housework-wise and independent wise, we are aiming to try and teach him how to cook and clean before he moves out of our house and have encouraged him to take responsibility for him self and his future prospects. He has only been with us for 3 weeks and he is already doing all his laundry unbidden and is cooking once a week and applying for courses and job hunting. I will have to tackle the housework soon (write a roster and show him how to actually clean) but so far so good! To me as a parent it is your responsibility to do the best by your children and to teach them how to live outside of the family home is vital!! Love this post SO much! x x

  6. Ruth, I sometimes wish I was one of your children. I can always feel the sense of love and compassion you have for one another through your photos, through your writing. It feels like a really strong happy family unit.

    I agree, it shouldn’t be gender biased, and your boys will have some invaluable skills for a lifetime.


  7. Here here. I only have two, but there's just one of me, so the odds are in their favour.There's no dishwasher (aside from me) & even the garden is over run! Maybe it's time my two do a little more than bring their dirty plates into the kitchen & put their washing in front of the machine.
    You are an inspiration. And never again will I allow myself to mutter, boys will be boys, opting instead for children will be children (whilst embracing my own inner child & joining them with some new found free time)

  8. I absolutely loved every word of your post - I devoured it as I read!
    I find it amazing that in the 21st century women my own age (nearing 40) say things to me like 'Gosh your husband is good with the kids' or 'Does he do that at home all the time?"... I feel like screaming 'of course he is good with the kids - he IS their father!!'.
    I do have an amazing husband who cooks, cleans, cuddles, read stories, plays games, gardens, earns money, pays bills, dusts, chops firewood, shops etc but guess what I do all of these things too!!
    Thank you to his mum for raising such a wonderful child!
    Onto the kids ... we have three - 4, 7 and 10 - girls and boys. They are mad keen on pocket money and we have, as a family, established rules around what is a 'pocket money job' and what is simply a job that you have to do because you are part of a loving family where everyone shares the load. So you don't get pocket money points for picking up your undies off the floor or hanging your towel or putting you plates in the dishwasher or unpacking your school bags - these are all things that NEED to be done to live in a functioning household.
    There are other jobs, that we have negotiated that contribute to our pocket money - age appropriate and shared across the family (although mum and dad don't get pocket money!)
    There is no such thing as a girl job or a boy job anymore - is there?

  9. oh yes! i was once given a talking to by a "friend" for stereotyping my two girls because they had a toy vacuum, no not stereotyping, housework is real world stuff, if only we were friends now and she saw my son, who is 5 has a real vacuum.

  10. You know I love this post lady! It's been sitting there bookmarked, just waiting for me to get around to telling you how very much I love it. Today is finally the day! I completely adore how you frame things - it's not just about learning vital skills to take care of yourself, it's also about being a part of a family, of a community. You have privileges (access to delicious fresh food!), and you have responsibilities. Yes, yes, and yes!

    I have thoroughly enjoyed helping to teach the step-sons to cook. We probably started later than we should have. When they're young it's too easy to just think "we're short on time, so I'll just do it", or to worry too much about mess or cuts or burns. But, we've been making up for lost time over the past year or so and it is so wonderful to see their skills and confidence go!

  11. Love this and very similar stuff going on here. They ADORE the vacuum!


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