Yes the summer holidays are here upon us and it’s time for some great family bonding. It’s also the time when summer vacation activities like camps, swimming sessions, painting, dancing, tennis and music classes take over your children’s lives. But you still find time hanging and your kids at a frantically bored loose end. And therefore if you are wondering what next for your little ones, don’t despair. A good and extremely beneficial way of not only keeping them occupied experts say, but also developing character is by introducing them to household chores.
But today we live in a technology driven world where everything we want is delivered to our doorstep. We also have enough domestic help (maid/driver/gardener/cook), to get by, without lifting a little finger. So why would we want to burden our children with mundane household chores which we ourselves seldom do? But if doing so enables character building and prevents them from acquiring a feeling of entitlement-which is what usually happens when everyone and everything is at their beck and call- why shouldn’t we, is the question.
So it would make sense to put aside our sense of guilt and motivate our kids to help out within the house and without. By making it a part of their early childhood education we would therefore be helping them to imbibe and acquire essential life skills that might stand them in good stead when they become adults. In fact educationist and researcher Dr. Marty Rossman says that ‘involving children in household tasks at an early age can have a positive impact later in life, the best predictor of young adults’ success in their mid-20’s was that they participated in household tasks when they were three or four.’
There may be some resistance initially if they are not used to disciplined ‘activities’ as children are naturally highly charged and hyper energetic. But by rotating tasks and introducing them gradually- at short intervals -in a fun and enjoyable manner, you will soon find them eager and wanting to do more.
Praise also goes a long way in motivating them to do things better. Though rewards too help it is better to keep them to treats of an extra piece of cake or pizza/sweet rather than money or something more tangible which in the long run spoils the child.
Bribing a child to do things around the house is never a good idea. They might then begin to believe in the quid pro quo process which isn’t healthy in growing children. But if it is to teach them and give them a sense of how to manage money then doling out an allowance in general of a few rupees could work for older kids and 10 year olds
Some chores/activities that 2-5 year olds can easily manage-
- Picking up and putting away toys/books
- Arranging the cushions on the sofa
- Buttering toast or paratha
- Keeping the living/bedroom/dining room in order
- Laying/wiping the table
- Picking up clothes for wash
- Putting away washed clothes for drying
- Fetching and carrying stuff
- Watering the garden
Some chores that 5-10 year old can manage
- Dressing themselves
- Making their beds
- Feeding their pets
- Washing the car
- Watering the plants
- Putting away the shopping
- Tidying their room
- Bathing by themselves
- Putting out clothes to dry
- Helping younger siblings
- Sharing stuff equally
- Polishing their shoes
Chances are that your kids might at first muck it all up. Nevertheless helping you or your domestic- help with chores will over time allow your kids to not only master them but even enjoy and take pride in them especially if you for e.g. convert them into games or races- one who cleans up/tidies up first gets a prize/applause etc.
Almost all of these simple tasks will make them-
- More responsible
- More disciplined
- Have more self- esteem
- More independent
- More unselfish
- More thoughtful and caring
- More mature/appreciative of things and people
- Have a sense of purpose
- Take pride in their work/possessions
- A ‘team player’
- Feel important and needed
- Set standards
- Develop into well-rounded and more self-reliant personalities as they grow up
Children tend to imitate their elders (their peers as well) and since parents are their first role models it makes sense for you to show them by example. So with a little patience and a lot of love if you were to be around to not only demonstrate how chores are managed but also join them in doing so, you might find that your kids’ summer vacation activities are as much fun for you as they are for them-more so if you turn every chore into an exciting fun filled game.
Use this summer vacation to also create an innovatively constructive environment that is suitable to hone their life building skills- for example
- Sorting out stuff/cleaning/wiping/arranging/tidying all go to promote healthy habits and good hygiene so the more the merrier
- Interacting with others is essential in developing social skills so invite their friends over
- Dissent and arguments are a part of childhood. So help them to settle it amongst themselves. It teaches them adjustment skills
- Chores teach them to understand how a home and family function, so different tasks at different times or even a daily/weekly task-activity planner would help
- Managing how and when to do chores helps them with time management skills so a time-schedule or a routine to maintain in conjunction with their vacation homework should work
- Decisions taken in consultation with them activate their thought processes and promote decision making skills, so brainstorm, as to what to do what and why/when, with them-even two/three year olds love to be consulted
- Rewarding/praising them for work well done teaches them the value of good work so appreciate every little thing they do well
- Taking them shopping, listing out what to buy, making the menu for the day-all these are chores /activities that help in also getting them to enjoy their vacation in an extremely profound grown up way
Thus with a little effort and forethought by appealing to their sense of importance and thrill of learning /acquiring new skills, and turning tedious household tasks into fun chores-interspersed with normal play/study time- you can turn your kids’ long summer vacation into a beneficially happy activity filled holiday.