Monday 5 January 2009

Kids and Chores

Little Lady and Little Man’s current favourite game is continuous complaining. “Muuuuum She’s troubling me”, “MUM!! He’s making trouble to me” When you get to the root of what this “trouble” is it’s usually “he keeps following me”, “she called me dumb”, “she’s not playing with me”, “he keeps waving his hand near my book” AAAAAAAAAAGH. So I have found that the only answer is to keep them occupied. I started with re-directing them to their toys, books and colouring pencils (Plan A). Then I tried to give them activities to keep them busy (Plan B), but these are limited because some have to be done when the baby falls asleep (beading, crafts) so he doesn’t run off with their scissors or throw the beads across the room in sheer joy at all these little throwable things he has found.

After a morning of this whining with no let up, I had to resort to Plan C: “Darling, can you get put this upstairs”, “Thank you love, can you take this now”, “Okay, can you tidy your room”, “who wants to pair the socks”, “who wants to tidy the shoes up” etc etc. I was hoping that the numerous trips up the stairs and would help burn some of the extra energy (its toooo cold to take them out) and the other tasks would keep them occupied. My mum has always encouraged me to set my children tasks, she insisted that if I start picking their night clothes off the floor and fixing their beds, I would be doing it for the rest of my life. I never planned to be the kind of mum who waits on her children hand and foot, even though I do admire the stamina of the women who are willing to do this for their children, so I had to agree with mum.

So I have had them busy, pairing up shoes in the hallway, taking clothes up the stairs and bringing toys down the stairs, hunting for missing baby bottles and trying to make their beds. Making them hoover their room when they threw popcorn all over the floor was probably a bit too much though. Although little lady did an excellent job, she decided to be super efficient and go and empty the bag. She then stuck the bag back in the hoover without attaching it. So next time I hoovered, the machine filled up with dust and dirt, which I had to spend ages clearing out. Bit of an own-goal really.

It might sound a little bit mean, but I do think that everyone that lives in a home had their part to play towards its upkeep, not just that lady who cleans the mess and makes our dinner and shouts like a madwoman sometimes. I’m helped by the better half because he is happy to do his share. In my parents house the opposite was true. My dad can just about make tea or boil an egg, although he is good at giving advice on how to hoover whilst you attempt to hoover around him. My brother has lived away from home which means he can open a can and pour it into a plate before sticking it into the microwave, I distinctly recall him as a teenager though, on being told to carry his plate to the kitchen, looking at us four sisters and declaring “what are they for then?”

I am not the kind of person to tolerate that (plus I am too lazy to be that kind of wonderful, attentive mother who anticipates her families every need and meets it unquestioningly). I hope that setting chores now and again for the kids is the start of encouraging good habits – making their own beds, putting their toys away, putting their hats, coats and school bags back in place. They only downside is the hoarse throat you get from repeating yourself ad infinitum and shouting.

I found this article incidentally, about teaching your children to help with chores, via Sister Naimah Umm Khadijah's blog.

Children helping around the house.


  1. Umm Salihah, Salam alaikum.

    No Mum should be waiting on her children; you're absolutely right in assigning chores from an early age. There's absolutely nothing 'mean' about it - I actually say the exact same thing to my older daughter ("You live here, you gotta work for it") - she's only 5, by the way.

    I read a very long time ago that children as young as 3 can be assigned regular chores. I think children these days are brighter and quicker, and they can "help out" at even younger ages. Yesterday night, while my 5-year-old helped put her clothes away, the 2-year-old watched intently for a while, then picked up her pyjamas from the laundry basked and put it away in her own drawer.

    And oh, Umm Salihah, the picture made me gasp: what are those children up to???

  2. i run a tight ship never to early to help out and learn, sadly i have one non helper its so easy to say lazy and brush it off but better to get all involved. That picture gave me a heart attack lol if that was my lot i will faint with the horror but these kids happily possed for the picture lol.

  3. salam sister,
    I love the picture!!

    xxx itto

  4. Assalam Alaikum,

    Way to go! I think young children can indeed do chores. My kids clean up their rooms (my boy a bit better than my girl...)and they usually help setting the table and cleaning up. Sometimes they do forget the way to the laundry basket, though... My husband does help out a lot as well by cooking and doing groceries. It keeps me sane and happy :-)

  5. Funny pictures, it look, there was paint all over the room, including the TV! It just look so messy, with Little Man smiling, it just look so hilarious to.

  6. Assalam-alaikam,

    I'm glad I'm not the only one keeping them busy, that makes me feel better. Except I know my nearly-two year old loves to throw the clothes I have just folded.
    Uff those kids - I would have a heart attack if mine did that.

    Sis Rainbow,
    Those kids must have a very patient tolerant mother. I'd have screamed if they were mine.

    Sister Itto,
    yes the picture is funny (mainly because that is someone else's house and they are someone else's kids).

    Sister Umm Nassim,
    I find too that my son is neater than my daughter, although it is much harder to get him to do something he doesn't want to (usually pick up his toys).