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!




Boy Jobs

I am not a fan of certain boy jobs. (We call the things I don’t like to do around the house “boy jobs”. As in my husband takes care of them. No, I’m not being sexist. Yes, girls can do these things – I just don’t like them. Maybe I should just call them “Eric Jobs”. Eh, you get the point.)

Things like taking out the garbage, of course. Here are a few more things I really don’t like doing when he’s away:

1. Spider annihilation. Ew. Just blegh!

2. Unclogging hair drains. (Have you seen this hair?!) I know it’s MY hair, but when it’s all wet and gross and soap-coated – um, no thank you.

3. Washing out the garbage bins

4. Getting gas. I know, ridiculous. I just hate being bothered by taking the time to go get gas. And my car seems to need gas ALL THE TIME. Can’t it just stay full for a while?!

5. Basically anything to do with car maintenance. I don’t mind getting the oil changed or whatever, but like getting gas, I just don’t like to be bothered. I like the idea of vehicle fairies that keep everything in working order without me having to worry about the details! God help me if the idiot maintenance indicator light comes on!

Pretty short list. After a year of going it alone, I find that I am more capable than I think. Here are things I once THOUGHT were boy jobs – but they got done!

1. Installed a CAR STEREO! That was a good day!

2. Raised my son’s bed….totally used to wait for Eric to do that one!

3. Spider Killing. Ew. Don’t care how many times I have to do it – I’ll never like it. Even had to kill one tonight! Ugh!

4. Teaching my kids to play sports. While I know my husband would give a limb to be here to do these things with them, he just can’t. Until he returns, we play games like frisbee, catch, basketball, and baseball….and pray they love sports as much as their Dad.

5, Working with the kids about chipping in and helping. (Granted this is an “us” job.) Started them a few months ago “helping” to unload and load the dishwasher, pick up their own stuff (that’s a daily battle!), sweeping the floor after dinner, setting the table, etc. Even got them washing the dishes!

6. Changed my son’s bike tire. Well…I almost did. The back tire got sliced so it needed a new tire AND tube. I was able to successfully get those on the rim, but putting the whole thing back on the chain proved a bit more than I could handle. I gave it an hour and half…complete with Hannah attempting to eat the bolts on the garage floor and Jacob whining “Are you done yyyyyyyet?!!??!” incessantly. I gave up, brought it in to the cycle shop and for 6 bucks, they did it in 5 minutes.

7. Removed food particles from the bottom of the dishwasher. Yeah, ew.

8. Changed out the propane tank on the gas grill. Grillin’ season is here, baby! Bring it.

None of these household jobs is especially difficult, but when you have someone around who just does them, you don’t really give it a second thought. Many of these things I’d NEVER done before – like rewire a stereo.

If living this military life teaches us nothing else, it will definitely teach us how to stretch further, learn more, and attempt to do many things we may not have thought we could do. Or, as in the case of my kid’s bike tire – you learn when to call a professional!

Done something you thought you’d never be able to do? What are your “jobs” around the house like? Tell me about ’em!