Saturday, June 23, 2007

Merry Maids?

My mom taught me at an early age the basics of keeping house. Some of those lessons were just part of the raising we received; some of those lessons, though, were out of necessity. My mom had two major kidney surgeries when the three of us kids were still pretty young, so my sister and I needed to be able to do much of the work around the house while she was recuperating. Then when I was in junior high, my mom went to Europe with her mom and her sister for almost a month. My sister had a summer babysitting job, and my brother went to the farm with my dad every day, so the house was pretty much left for me to take care of--doing laundry, cleaning house, making the grocery list, cooking lunch and dinner everyday for my family, etc.

(A little aside here: one of my favorite funny memories of Mom being gone was when my dad took us grocery shopping. My sister and I had made the list, and then Dad took us kids to the store to buy what we needed. I remember whispering to my sister that Dad was going to have a fit when he saw how much the groceries cost--not because our list was exorbitant or anything, but because Mom did the grocery shopping and Dad was not really in touch with what things cost. Sure enough, in the check out line, Dad about had a cow when he saw the final tally of the contents of our shopping cart! You probably just had to be there to think it was funny, but my sister and I had a good laugh about it afterwards!)

I've always been very grateful that my mom taught me so well how to keep house, and I want to teach these things to both of my kids early on. I've often read and now know by experience that small children enjoy being given some responsibilities. My kids--who are almost 4 and 2 years old--put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket, put their shoes away in their closets where they belong, pick up their toys and books at the end of the day, and now are learning to clear their own dishes from the table, throw away what needs to be thrown away, and then put them in the sink. I don't want to have to "teach" them these things when they get older and have them think they are somehow being punished with "chores". I want them to know early on that this is just a part of life and part of their responsibility as members of our family.

Often when I vacuum, Benjamin and Hannah are right beside me with their "vacuums"--Benjamin with his mini-Dirt Devil, and Hannah with her little popper push toy. Benjamin now likes to get my small vacuum--a light-weight rechargeable one--and really and truly help me clean the floors. It makes me smile when they do this, but it also makes me glad that they want to help.

And, deep down inside, if I am totally honest with you, it makes me jump up and down with joy thinking that in a few years, I can have them believing it's Mommy's job to sit in her favorite chair and read a book while they clean the house! Okay, not really! But I do like knowing I have two good helpers in the making!


Anonymous said...

This is awesome!
I totally agree!!

From the time Timmy could walk I had him throwing out his own dirty diaper after a diaper change! It's awesome! And you're right, it just teaches them a natural sense of things needing to be done! (Not chore=punishment)

Peace to you sister-friend!!

Deidre said...

Karen, I have often thought the same thing. Just the other day while mopping the floor, I thought, "Whew, my only relief from this is when E. gets old enough to do it herself!"

Terrible, I know, but I have to admit I'm looking forward to the day!

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh when I read this because I remember when my girls were really little. Now, one of the things I love about summer is that I can leave them home with a list of "chores" and come home and the house is clean!

Mayhem And Miracles said...

I was agreeing with every word you wrote - until "putting their shoes in the closet." That is the one big one mine seem to have gotten stuck on! I would pay for suggestions!

Scratchin' the Surface said...

Absolutely teach them, their spouses will hug your neck someday. Housekeeping is becoming a lost art, yet theres such satisfaction at the end of the day, in a job well done. oxoxoxPS Your profile photo is BEAUTIFUL!