Kelly Rose Bradford
"Now it's the holidays and you're home all day you're really going to have to pull your weight a bit more around the house," I told my eight-year-old son recently, "That means," I said, brandishing a duster for added impact, "An equal division of labour."
"But what does that mean?" he asked.
"Basically, we share the house-work." I explained.
His face fell.
'Can't we get a cleaner?" he implored, "Everyone else at school has one, and they only cost about, well, like, 20 pounds an hour."
I think my withering look hit that idea straight on the head (even if secretly I was asking myself the same question).
But cleaners cost money I do not have, and so I hardly think it unreasonable in wanting a fit and healthy eight-year-old to help around the house. And I am not alone - a new 'Little Helpers' survey commissioned by the people behind Olly the little White Van (the most helpful character on the telly, apparently) has revealed that 66 of kids doing so. Yet toy tidying is probably the MAJOR bone of housework contention in our house: I have a no-toys-in-sitting-room rule on the basis I like to have ONE room I can usher unannounced visitors in to without the risk of them lacerating a toe on a Lego brick nesting in the rug, or getting an anal probe in the form of a light sabre lurking under a sofa cushion. And my son does actually take on board that this is the one room where things Really Are in danger of ending up in the bin if they are found in there.
My friend Lynley tells me that toy tidying is the start and end of her son's current housework prowess. And even that is a struggle:
'He has to tidy his toys. That's an uphill battle in itself. We haven't progressed to anything further. Oh except he does take out plates to the kitchen after dinner. Overall though it is just too stressful to try and get him doing anything else. Maybe it is because he is six. Maybe it is because he lives so much in his imagination. He just goes off into a tangent. We'll get there.'
But, like my son, he can be persuaded to do stuff if he doesn't REALISE it is supposed to be a chore:
"He loves to do the sweeping up ," she says, "But has no concept of what he is doing. The broom goes everywhere and he spreads whatever he is sweeping up all over the place. Spilling something like flour on the floor will send me into a panic to get it cleared up before he spots it. And also, I can't do sweeping up when he's around as he's jumping up and down following me around waiting for his turn."
Mum-of-two Catherine is a lot more regimented in her approach – her children have specific jobs to do around the house – although the more boring tasks are sweetened with financial reward:
"I think it is so important. As a matter of course they are expected to make their beds, pick up their clothes, clear their plates away after meals, tidy up toys after they have played with them and load their stuff into the dishwasher. Now and again I get them to sort washing. In the winter they are paid for bringing logs into the house and any more tedious tasks like that they tend to get paid for - usually 50p, plus a bonus if they do it well!"
Catherine is obviously far nicer than I am. There will be no financial rewards over the next eight weeks for my son's housework related weight-pulling, but in exchange, he will probably have a slightly less neurotic and shouty mother. And you can't put a price on that.
The survey results in full:
· Two thirds of children help out with chores at home (66) followed by making their bed (34). 15 of children help daily, more than twice a week or at least once a week
· Most parents encourage kids to start helping from the ages of 2 and 3 (45 of parents believe that children should take on more chores
· Working parents are marginally more likely to expect their children to help with chores than stay at home parents
(Research sample of 2,000 parents (of children aged between 2 – 8) carried out in June 2011 by OnePoll on behalf of Olly the Little White Van which launched on June 26th 2011 on mini CITV.)
What do you think?
Do you make your kids help out around the house, or is it just too much hassle?