Who does the housework in your home?

Why didn't anyone tell me that becoming a mother resulted in an immediate upskill and massive increase in my domestic abilities?

Having spent my entire life avoiding how to sew, iron and mop floors terribly well, I now find that through the eyes of a child - if I can sew on a button on a sports uniform, or darn a sock I am a total hero. Never mind my career or sporting achievements BC (before Callan). This is irrelevant when compared to my abilities to complete a selection of mundane domestic chores.

When volunteering at Occasional Care over 4 years ago I remember the shock of seeing other children eating home made club sandwiches and cake from their little lunchboxes, while my son had a vegemite sandwich, juice and an apple! Clearly this is where it all went wrong for me...

Apart from a brief fling with trying to be a perfect mother soon after becoming a parent, I have spent years purchasing clothes which don't need ironing, worked - in order to pay for a cleaner to come for 3 hours each week and maintain a current account with the local drycleaners - where they also run an inexpensive repair service. My culinary skills include anything which smells like spaghetti bolognaise in a massive pot (read 8 meals in the freezer), BBQ chicken with a home made salad and grilled anything with fresh veg. Show me a long complicated recipe for breakfast, lunch or dinner and my eyes glaze over.

While I admire my friends who have gone domestic - revelling in recipes and cleaning products, producing gourmet-to-go lunchboxes, freshly ironed sheets and underwear and churning out totally brilliant outfits for their kids to wear at end-of-year concerts, - I am also personally in favour of the Steve Biddulph method of teaching your kids to - do it themselves!

In his book The Secret of Happy Children (Harper Collins), Steve a well known family psychologist and author, suggests starting kids as young as 2 years with a small daily task, such as putting the cutlery out for dinner. Older children can set the table, take dishes to the sink, help put clean dishes away or help with the recycling.

"Tasks should be easy, involving self-care, and some which contribute to the overall family welfare.," says Steve

Giving our kids chores reduces the load on job-juggling parents like me, but it also begins to teach them how to take on small pieces of responsibility and to take pride in finishing a job, which contributes to the wellbeing of the entire family.

According to Steve "Much is made these days of self-esteem and the importance of praising kids and their efforts. It's more important to remember that real self-esteem comes from contributing. Without knowing their place, and having a contribution, kids may get a kind of 'Young Talent' self-image - a ballooned idea of themselves which the big world away from a doting Mum and Dad will be sure to deflate."

While I have never had a love-affair with all things domestic, I also don’t believe that it should be just Mum or Dad who do everything - to allow their kids to live in a "childhood-style waiting room" before real life begins.

I hope my son will be a good friend and great husband in decades hence, because I have begun to give him tasks to complete which contribute to his wellbeing, lighten my load and teach him that it isn't just Mums (and some Dads) who do all the dirty work!

 
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