Don't raise a prima donna! Give your child some chores

Like many from a middle class family in Peru, I grew up in a household with a living-maid, which meant that the house was always clean, the laundry was always done and the food was always ready at the same time. However, this by no means meant that I had no chores. I had to make my own bed, pick up my own room and share the responsibility of taking care of our dog with my two siblings. 

All this changed drastically when we moved to the United States when I was a 14 and we all had to figure out very quickly how to do everything for ourselves. My mother wasted no time assigning different chores to each her three children depending on our age. I'm not going to say I was thrilled, but I guess I figured it just came with the territory. Now that I'm a mom, I want to make sure my children grow up doing chores is just a normal part of belonging to a family

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But how to do that? I know that my son at 2-years-old is still too little to do anything structured, although he does help put his toys away. My daughter, however, who is already 5 1/2 should be doing a lot more. I mean, she does pick up her own toys and helps me set the table, but she only makes her bed and helps with the laundry occassionally. She has never helped me with the dishes by either washing them or loading the dishwasher, but I hear other kids her age already do.

What I do know is that I would hate for my children to leave my house and be a couple of inept adults when it comes to household chores. My husband never really gave my stepson any chores on a consitent basis and so he went off to college not knowing how to do his own laundry or how fry himself an egg without burning down the house. I always thought it was crazy, but my husband felt he needed to overprotect him because of the divorce.

I also don't agree with the idea that I need to give my children an allowance in exchange for them doing chores. Again, I think these tasks come with the territory of belonging to a family. I guess it's time that I start making sure my own children understand this. I think I'll start by having my daughter make her bed every single day. 

What do you think? Do your children have chores? How early did they start with those?

Image via chefranden/flickr