Sunday, July 17, 2011

Teaching Children about Housework- with humor!

 GUEST POST From Miranda Smith !

One of my favorite quotes regarding housework and raising children is one by the legendary comedian, Phyllis Diller. She said, “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.” Yes! She gets it! I think most mothers have this same feeling at some time or another, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t teach our children how to do chores. Having said that, I think having a good sense of humor is essential when it comes to teaching children to work, especially young children.
We recently had a family home evening discussing family responsibilities. We talked about the role of the father and mother first. When I came to the role of children in the home, I tried to play it up as very important (which it is, of course) in hopes that I would get their attention. I told them that even our prophets say that children should do chores. I told them that President Spencer W. Kimball said, “Children should learn to work and to share responsibilities in the home and yard. They should be given assignments to keep the house neat and clean.” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 120) I then told my kids, “See? President Kimball says you’re supposed to help out around the house. Mom and dad aren’t trying to be mean and hateful.” To which my quick-witted 8 year-old replied, “Oh, so it’s the prophet AND mom and dad being mean and hateful!” (Why yes, son, that’s exactly the point I was trying to make.)
Now, I’m not here to try and tell you how to set up routines or clean your house. Only you know what works best for your family, and truth be told, I’m still working on that one myself. But I can tell you it helps to have a sense of humor.
A few weeks ago, my 8 year-old son had the fun assignment of cleaning what we call ‘the boys bathroom’. I sent him in equipped with the usual cleaning tools; window cleaner, multi-purpose cleaner, paper towels, and a wash cloth for wiping down the sink and counter. I have a toilet brush that stays in the bathroom, and I *assumed* he knew to use that to clean the toilet. After 10 minutes or so he emerged and declared he was finished. He brought out the cleaners and paper towels and started washing his hands.
Sounds good, right?
I started asking him questions about the jobs he did in the bathroom to make sure he did everything I asked him to. It went something like this.
Me: “Honey, did you clean the mirror?”
Son: “Yes, mom.”
Me: “Did you spray the counter and sink and wipe them down good?”
Son: “Yes.”
Me: “Did you use the toilet brush and scrub under the toilet seat and rim?”
Son: “No. I used the washcloth.”
Me: “Ewwww . . . well, I hope you wiped down the counter and sink first. Ok, did you bring the washcloth out and throw it in the laundry?
Son: “No, I forgot. I guess that means I’ll have to wash my hands again.”
Me: “Yep, I guess so.”
A few minutes later he came back through on his way to the laundry room . . . . . with the offending washcloth . . . . . held by a clothespin.
Well, that’s one way to take care of the job and not have to rewash your hands.
Once upon a time I probably would have become upset or frustrated because he didn’t clean the toilet the way I thought it should be cleaned. I’ve found that I’m less of a perfectionist the older I get. And it was really my fault anyway because I didn’t remind him that he could use the toilet brush. But you know what? He cleaned the bathroom, and he did a great job for his age.
And he figured out a way to remove a stinky washcloth without getting his hands dirty.
Miranda is the mom of four rambunctious boys and one sassy little girl. She loves to read, sing(although not very well), and laugh with her family. You can read more about her adventures over at

1 comment:

House Cleaning said...

It's great that you teach your kids how to do housework while they are still small. IN my opinion all members of the family should participate in housework.