Growing up, we were fortunate to have parents who arranged their work schedules so that there was always one adult at home. Things were still hectic, though, and us kids were expected to help around the house. At least some of us, anyway. (Little brother, I'm talking to you!)
Consequently, when we left the nest, we were well aware of how to do laundry, clean a bathroom, cook, and so forth. These are important skills. After all, all of the Greek and Latin in the world isn't going to keep you alive if you can't boil water or keep your home sanitary.
Some would say (and do say) that little boys don't need to learn these things. I think that's preposterous. Men need to know how to survive on their own, too. Basic housekeeping skills should be learned at an early age by both sexes.
We have a weekly schedule of household chores. At one point, all housecleaning was done on one day, but that proved too tiresome as we had more children. Also, we wanted more time to spend together on the weekends without tasks hanging over our heads. So, now I do the following with Henry's assistance:
- Monday - Laundry and bathrooms. Henry helps load and unload the washer and dryer and hands me clothes to fold. He's a little too little to help out much in the bathrooms with all of the cleaning supplies, but he'll change out empty toilet paper rolls as needed.
- Tuesday - Maintenance day. Over the week, any odd jobs that we see need to be done get put on the "To Do" list so we can tackle them on Tuesdays. Henry loves tightening door handles, taking apart the vacuum cleaner, and whatever else his little hands can manage.
- Wednesday - Ceilings and carpets. We each get a long-handled Swiffer to play with. I get the cobwebs from the corners, the ceiling fan blades, light fixtures, bookshelf tops, and picture frames. Henry gets the lower bookshelves, doors, and light switches. After dusting, I vacuum all of the carpets and rugs. Henry "helps" by holding on to the vacuum handle. In all honesty, it makes the task take about twice as long, but who wants to discourage a kid from helping? He gets to practice and, one day, he'll be big enough to push it all on his own.
- Thursday - Steam mopping. This is a little too dangerous for Henry to help with. We have an Enviro Steamer and it gets hot. Henry's job is to fill the tank with water. He loves to put in the funnel, pour in the water, and screw the cap back on.
- Friday - Dusting. While I get the furniture tops, Henry is armed with his own paper towels to wipe down the table legs and drawer fronts. Sometimes, he gets adventurous and starts wiping down the baseboards. I encourage this. :)
- Saturday - This, of course, is baking day, which we've discussed before. This is probably Henry's favorite chore day.
- Sunday - Our well-deserved day of rest!
As all of the children get older, more will be expected of them. They'll understand that being part of a family means helping to care for our home and each other. And when the time comes for them to set out on their own, I'll rest easy at night knowing that each of them can take care of their own household.