Chores. One of the most dreaded words around our house. Let it be known, I have already won the “Worst Mom” of the year award. According to our children, I am the only mom who assigns these tasks; however, I find this statement hard to believe. Despite their protests, I firmly believe there is a place for a daily chore list—a frame of mind that developed during my own childhood.

Growing Up with Chores

Growing up, my parents always left an after school to-do list for me and my siblings. Being the eldest, I promptly did everything. By the time my parents arrived home from work, I had completed my homework, washed the dishes, started the laundry and vacuumed the floor. My brother, on the other hand, would find ways to get out of everything. He even faked an injury once for three days so I would feel sorry for him and do his portion of the work.

This mindset has carried over to my parenting. I believe having a chore list helps teach our kids responsibility. It teaches our kids to do the mundane, boring and sometimes difficult things that life may throw their way. Even though I acknowledge all of the benefits chores teach, our children do not necessarily agree. The complaining, the arguing and even the procrastinating seem to become more prevalent the moment chores are assigned.

Being an educator and being involved with many organizations, the topic of responsibility is part of many discussions. Business professionals discuss the importance of students understanding deadlines, understanding that others are dependent upon them and understanding that there may be tasks they consider boring but need to complete anyway. My colleague actually said it best: “It was an expectation that I helped around the house. There was never a list.”

With all the complaining and arguing, however, I often contemplate if I should require our children to even do chores. I immediately remind myself our kids do get monthly allowances. I remind myself our kids are learning responsibility and know that someone is depending upon them. These reasons and above perspectives solidify why a chore/to-do list is essential.

And in all reality, our children spend more time arguing why they should not have chores or what chores to do than it would take for them to actually complete the task at hand. Our children may not like it now, but eventually they will appreciate why we strive to develop this core character trait.

Teaching Responsibility

Our oldest daughter, who is extremely responsible and organized, will be the first to say, “I’m so busy with school activities and homework that my chores never get done until the weekend.” Our middle daughter would tell you that the chore list is simply not fair. More times than not, she says she always has the longest chore list. (This daughter has also quickly learned that procrastinating on the chore list is not necessarily the best option.) Our son has it figured out. He quickly does all the easy chores and leaves all the difficult, time-consuming chores for his sisters to complete.

As our children get older, it’s easier to rotate the chores rather than giving one child the same chore all week. Our kids rotate sweeping the kitchen floor, loading and unloading the dishwasher, putting shoes away, taking out the trash and vacuuming the floors. Once the summer rolls around, our kids seem to volunteer for different chores that allow them to be outside.

However, a constant around our house seems to be laundry. This is also the one chore none of our children really want to do. I typically never wash laundry during the week; therefore, our children know they must have their dirty clothes in the laundry room by suppertime on Fridays…that is, if they want me to wash their clothes. If they miss the deadline, they have to do laundry themselves.

This is one of the household chores that I complete (I know I could outsource). I’m too worried they would wash the wrong clothes together. That being said, the kids have to take turns folding the laundry. Usually, our youngest gets the joy of folding towels while the girls fold all of the other piles.

Having earned the “Worst Mom” title, I still believe chores are a necessary part of growing up. I do like that our children have a safe place to develop their responsibility and occasionally fail at being responsible. Selfishly though, I also like all the helping hands around our house, as it’s a necessity with our busy calendars.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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