As I always say to anyone who will listen, (the list gets shorter month-on-month), it is September that is the month of renewal, not January. It is September in which we can reappear as a new incarnation of ourselves. We slough off the dead, dry skin of summer and step shiny as a conker into fresh thoughts and ideas. Fresh air. FRESH SHOES.
Among other things, this Autumn I am thinking about getting my kids to do chores. I have made a half-hearted stab in the past but they forget them all and, crucially, I forgot them all and the chores are undone and it falls to bits.
But this Autumn it’s got to happen. It’s got to. My mother never made us do chores because she viewed the implementation of such rules as petty and stupid. She hated nagging and thought it was just easier to do it herself, or leave things undone.
She’s right, of course – it is easier. But what you end up with is kids who stand up from the dinner table, knife and fork askew and just wander off, with not one single thought for what might have to happen next to those dirty dishes. Or kids who literally do not know how to set a table. Or just, generally, don’t lift a fucking finger round the house.
“Fine” you might say. “They don’t need to, they’re only children. Don’t be so uptight, leave them be.”
Yeah, okay but those children grow into adults. Spoiled, silly, entitled adults who don’t know that you need to clean a bathroom and put your clothes in the laundry basket. Who drift about just expecting other people to do things for them. That doesn’t end well, I’m telling you.
I ought to point out here that in fact when we were older at home we did do chores. We set the table and washed up after supper every night and did our own laundry and pinned our socks together. I moaned about it at the time but I’m grateful now. If only my mother had made me also clean the bathroom I wouldn’t have found mould growing in my sink in the second year of University.
Anyway chores are now my obsession. Both my children have a little chart in the kitchen and in order to earn their paltry weekend pocket money they have to
1 Put their shoes away
2 Put their own shoes on when we go out
3 Take their plates to the sink after meals
4 Put clothes in laundry basket at bath time
5 Kitty has to make her own bed, not Sam because he just can’t manage it
They need endless reminding about this – but it’s a new habit, you do have to endlessly remind them. But it will become a habit, just like I automatically hang up any towel I have used because my mother used to go so totally berserk, (it was the one thing she really minded about), if we didn’t.
It’s been my summertime conversation starter: “What do you do with your kids about chores,” I will say to some poor fellow at the cricket, or a fellow mum round the pool.
Everyone always knows someone whose children literally serve them at the table and clean out the car without being asked. Is that going a bit far? I don’t know.
What about you? What do you do about your kids and chores? Tell me.