I plan for ours to be an equal-opportunity family when it comes to chores. As she grows older, I’d like my daughter to learn (among other things, naturally) how to run a home–but I also want my boys to someday have basic cooking, cleaning, and domestic skills. I’m sure these things look different in every family, but I value the fact that my husband not only mows the lawn, but changes diapers and makes lunch and can get down on his hands and knees to sweep and mop the kitchen floor, for example. I don’t want to raise men who will gaze around blankly for a woman to look after them.
We haven’t become deeply involved in chore-assigning yet; the kids are still too young for me to feel like I have energy to spare for that. But we’re starting the process: they put their dirty clothes away, the boys are learning to help me make their beds (E piles up her dolls and animals in her crib), everybody loves to water flowers, and they are actually becoming helpful with the evening pick-up-the-toy-war-zone routine.
The boys are generally willing, but I already see what my challenge will be in trying to maintain chore equality: their pipsqueak of a sister wants to DO IT ALL. It’s all I can do to ensure that the boys put their own laundry in the hamper before she gets to it.
This girl thinks there is no greater thrill in life than supplying me with a fresh liner for the trash can. If she spies the kitchen trash when it is even half-full, she shrieks with glee and races to the broom closet to get out a new bag. Telling her that we have to wait until the trash is full usually means tears.
When I sweep the floor, she wants to sweep: she scampers off to get her little broom and dustpan (yes, the boys have a set available to them, too, but they aren’t clamoring to use theirs). She then follows me around the kitchen taking up station under the table, in the corner, behind the chairs–and always squealing, “Right here, Mama? Like this, Mama? Oooh, this is SO FUN!”
She considers dusting a joy. “I get MY dustrag, Mama? I get MINE! This is MINE! I dusting my bed now! Oooh, it’s all clean!”
She’s a worker, this one.
I love her glow of pride and accomplishment. I helped Mama dust her room. And boy, it needed it.