You Are a Citizen of the Household


I learned how to vacuum at four years of age. At least that’s what my mother tells me. I don’t remember it, but it apparently directly followed my crumbling up an entire tub of Play-Doh into the shag carpet.

Call it natural consequences.

Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of my duties around the house. Chores, chores and more chores. Ugh! I hated it! I resolved to do things differently when I was a parent.

The vows that we make as children don’t always translate into reality when we are adults, however. Suddenly as adults we find ourselves with less time and money than work and responsibility. And while I was miles different from my mother in terms of WHAT I expected my daughters to do, I landed on a format that works for me…

You are a citizen of the household – this means profit-sharing and work-sharing alike. At six, the Princess is capable of pushing the steam mop, but not the vacuum. She can run things up and down stairs easier than I can (oh, my aching knees!) and is perfectly capable of feeding the chickens, collecting the eggs, and putting clean silverware away. In return, she gets an occasional dollar or two to buy ice cream with, a desired case of Silly Putty at Wal-Mart, or a trip to the movies.

I’m not suggesting that she likes it, or that she willingly does it without complaint, but again and again I say to her, “You are a citizen of this household. You must contribute, just as you partake in the benefits.”

Today she learned to vacuum the stairs. I told her, “This will be a chore that you will do at most once per week.”

By her age, I was dusting, vacuuming, and taking out the trash. By ten, I was expected to polish silver, help wash dishes, help cook, and a lot more.

I think it helps kids understand the value of work, as well as that every contribution is important to helping a household run smoothly.

What kind of chores or responsibilities do YOU expect your kids to do?

Do you pay them an allowance or do you go with the profit-sharing model?

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