The Value of Getting Involved in Family Chores
As I was getting on the plane on Sunday, I picked up a copy of The Weekend Argus and read with interest a front page article on the above topic. It was originally written for a UK paper, so I was intrigued that it should be used in a South African paper.
A universal problem in the so-called “first world”. So many more double income families (where there are two parents) Moms and Dads are under pressure to squeeze all the domestic chores into the first hour or so of the day or before they collapse into bed at night. Just to repeat the treadmill of domestic life all over again tomorrow.
But we do ourselves and our children, I believe, a disservice if we do not include them in offering their contribution to family life from early on. And here is why. I firmly believe that we are born with an innate need to belong, belong to our family and our community.
If we are invited to contribute to the well-being of our family from early on and are appreciated for what we do, we feel encouraged to do more and appreciate others contribution.
We are learning skills of collaboration as we lay the table for supper, clear the table and wash up or load the dishwasher, help prepare the supper or lunch boxes for the next day. Even folding the laundry and putting away the ironing.
If we include our children in these everyday tasks from very young, they will not think twice about doing it when they are older.
The key is to put the effort into the relationship while sharing in these tasks rather than focusing on the checklist of things to do and who did what. The table may not be laid perfectly, but if it was done with heart, that is what matters.
Equally, when your three year old wants to help wash the dishes, pull up a kitchen stool so he or she can reach, you can rinse the dishes before they go on the rack, but he or she feels special to be included! He or she will associate washing up with being appreciated – and we all like to experience that!
When I became a single Mom my oldest two children were just entering into high school and on alternate nights they partnered with one of their twin siblings to help with making supper. We sat down to some exotic creations which will never be found in a recipe book, but they have all grown up to be competent creative cooks, who love to host supper parties and picnics which are out of this world.
When I became a step-mom, my stepchildren had not been accustomed to this practice, but over time they became adventurous in the kitchen too and now are the champion cooks in their communes.
If we want our children to contribute, they need role models, they need to see how it is done, to be invited to share in manageable tasks and be appreciated for their attempts, however feeble it might be in the beginning.
Appreciation changes the brain chemistry of the giver and recipient. It is a well-known fact that we need 5 positive encouragements to counteract one negative criticism. Everyone knows when we are authentically appreciating them.
We feel it. The words ring true.
Do you want to learn how to positively engage your family or work colleagues?
Book now for my Time to Think master class.
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“A conversation is not two people talking, rather it is two people thinking together”
Nancy Kline (from Time to Think)