The Benefits of Chores
When it comes to assigning housework to children, there’s some debate. Many parents want to preserve childhood for as long as possible, letting the “kids be kids” and enjoy plenty of playtime while they’re still young. Others may see children as less capable, preferring to finish the housework as quickly and efficiently as possible. These arguments make sense, but they also overlook the many positive benefits of giving kids chores.
Our daily lives are full of moments where we can connect, empower and teach our children. All the chores that may feel like drudgery to us as adults are often a delight to the young child. A dish tub full of bubbles, a basket full of laundry, a floor needing sweeping or a window sill asking for a dusting. All of these tasks offer endless opportunities for our families as a whole.
For the young child the gift of being entrusted with meaningful work builds their self-esteem, develops lifelong capabilities and life skills and bonds the family by distributing the work of the household. Young children naturally want to take part in the world around them. Research indicates that those children who do have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification, all of which contribute to greater success in school.
If we as adults can be present and open to their help then we will give the gift of purposeful work to the children in our care. It requires our presence because often in this busy world mundane tasks are overlooked or at best rushed thru to completion. Think of all the daily conveniences that are used almost daily in our homes: the dishwasher, the washer/dryer, the vacuum, etc. These serve a purpose but also deprive our children from seeing the cyclical process of things.
When we wash dishes by hand we can see the full process. The plate going in dirty, the need for us to scrub it clean, to rinse it, to dry it. These cycles are important for young children to witness and take part-in. It’s important to consciously choose to perform these tasks in our homes offering the gift of participating in the full process to our children.
When we are conscious and present we are able to engage with both our child and the work at hand. The demands of the modern world surely can distract: the ping of an email, the buzz of our phone, our laptops open for work, the TV on in the background; these all call us out of the moment. Minimizing our distractions in our home helps to create a sanctuary and allows us to remain focused. Our children will observe when we choose to complete these tasks mindfully and with joy. It is much like a meditation practice where we become conscious of our thoughts and choose to remain present as we work. This allows us to fully engage with what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with.
This presence is a natural state of being for the young child. When we show up and work with joy our children learn to do the same. Viewing our household chores as a meditative practice makes our work a spiritual endeavor and bonds us with our children in the only moment they know: The Present!
By Molly Brett
Kimberton Waldorf Preschool Teacher
Parent Child Program Teacher
Happy Children Do Chores – NY Times
Benefits of Chores – Center for Parenting Education
Mindful Simplicity: Decluttering and Cleaning
5 Ways To Be More Present With Your Child – Huffington Post
Why Kids Should Have Chores