A house full of boys is a house full of repulsive, balled-up soccer socks and shirts worn for thirty seconds then thrown onto the floor. It’ s an endless cycle of cereal bowls, granola bar wrappers, apple cores, and second dinners. My boys are always hungry, and they’re not even teenagers yet. I’m trying to figure out how we’ll afford a six-figure food bill when they are.
Whether your house is full of boy socks or girl socks or a mix of both, from laundry to dishes to everyday living there is always housework to be done. Lately I’ve seen seen several articles about how boys should be taught housework the same way girls are. In my house, I’m the only girl. If I’m going to risk my health to clean my kids’ bathroom, they’re doing it with me. Teaching my boys housework was never optional.
They are 10, 7, 5, and 2 and have all been taught to do laundry. Even the two-year-old can throw towels into the washer. He’s still young enough to think it’s fun, so I happily let him. My boys can unload the dishwasher, and the two older ones can also load it. Sometimes they forget the dish soap, but heck, I’ve done that too! They know how vacuum, wash mirrors, and scrub baseboards.
Do they like to? No. Do I? Absolutely not. So we work on the premise that misery loves company and I make up silly songs that annoy them while we do, like, “Mopping the floor, washing the door, that’s what water is for.” The faster they finish, the sooner I’ll stop.
Every day, my kids have to clean “Room +1,” meaning they have to clean their room plus do one more household chore. These are jobs they do because they live here. Beyond that, we let them do money jobs to earn their own spending money. Money jobs are things like vacuuming the car, wiping down the pantry shelves, and mowing the lawn. Mowing the lawn is a little different though, because my oldest two have to do it. But we do pay them.
You may or may not agree with paying kids for chores. But in allowing them to earn money when they don’t have the opportunity to otherwise, we can teach them to manage it. If we’re at the store and they ask for a new set of Pokemon cards, the answer is simple. “If you want to spent the money you earned on those, that’s your choice.” If they don’t have any money, the have to wait until they earn some. I feel it helps them understand how the world works and appreciate what they have a little more. They are always more careful with things they pay for out of their own wallets.
This system is our (well, my) ideal. It doesn’t happen perfectly all the time, and six days out of seven if you walked into my house you’d think I was a hypocrite for saying we even have one. But we try!
My kids don’t know the boy/girl housework debate exists. We just do what needs doing and hope our Scentsy plugin saves us from the smell of their bathroom—no matter how often we clean it!
Amber is a mom to four boys, and has been married to her husband Nick for 12 years. She is chasing after a rambunctious two-year-old by day and soccer mommin’ it up by night. Amber is also the author of Memoirs of Mayhem: The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious – a book about how even mundane tasks like laundry can be humorous! You can find her blogging at WatchThisMom.com or follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twi