Child Labor

Although my 10-year-old self would never admit it, I am completely thankful that my parents made me do chores. Things around the house that, at one time or another earned me an allowance, or was just to help out the family. Part of being a family is chipping in, doing what needs to be done. It may not have seemed like a big deal then, but now, I am beyond glad I know how to do these things.

We all know of someone whose parents did EVERYTHING for them, and while they may be what I call “book smart”, they have no idea how to turn on a stove, take care of themselves, fix an appliance, or maintain a car, let alone run a household. I doubt I would be as confident in going it alone with a deployed spouse if having chores and responsibilities weren’t a part of my childhood.

While the preparations for homecoming are coming together, (YAHOO!) I always go into “ninja cleaning mode” where, similar to nesting at the end of pregnancy, I deep clean everything in the house, top to bottom, get every bit of laundry done, folded AND put away, dust for the first time in months – and essentially do all of the things I swore I was going to keep up on during the deployment!

Today was ninja cleaning day.

And for the first time, I had two helpers. While it was no doubt comical from the outside looking in, everything got done. I handed my 2-year-old a toilet scrub brush (since she likes to do anything BUT actually use a toilet for it’s intended purpose) and she set to work. I simultaneously had the 4-year-old on “vacuum patrol sucking up any and all crummies”! I had to stop and monitor on occasion, we all had to stop and brush our teeth, I had to run up and down the stairs WAY more than necessary to assist etc., which is to be expected. They have tiny attention spans. I was then left to switch loads of laundry, finish the dishes, sinks, and tubs. They also put away their own laundry, and picked up their rooms. Of course I could have gotten it done faster had they not been “helping”, but then they wouldn’t learn. It takes extra time now, but in the long run, I’m hoping it will benefit all of us. (As in when they are older, they will know how to do it, and can do it for me without my having to supervise!) Genius!

What was more important than checking off the to-do list, was that the kids felt like they contributed. I didn’t bribe them. (Granted, again – they are 2 and 4 so anything to feel “grown up” is exciting). The look of pride on both of their faces when I thanked them for helping was outstanding! They had pride in a job they did.

I didn’t go in and re-do it for them (at least not that they witnessed!) They owned the work they did. They are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. Even at 2 and 4 years old. As mothers, we have these adorable little babies and have ideas of what “motherhood” should look like. In my mind, it was something like me doing everything and doting on these adorable children in a Norman Rockwell-esque way. What I’ve come to realize is that our job as mothers is to everyday, little by little, work ourselves OUT of a job. Ever so slowly giving them the tools they need to live and be responsible for themselves.

Perhaps it won’t be until they have a house of their own until they can fully appreciate what I’m teaching them – but it will happen.

And the bonus? The more child labor they do – the less I have to do! Win-win!





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