What is going on with parents these days? – Rethinking Family Responsibilities #chores #Back2School

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I wrote this post months ago.  I am not sure what exactly set me off but I knew I had to sit on this post for a good, long, while.  I’m pretty pleased I don’t remember who was making me crazy but I do know that I had to write this post.

As we quickly approach the beginning of school, this may be a good time to re-evaluate what your child’s responsibilites will be.  They are one  year older and one foot taller (in some cases).  They ARE ready to take on more chores.  

Let me help you along with these few words of ‘encouragement’ (read, kick in the butt)…


I am not sure what is going on with some parents. I just don’t get it. Its 2014, right? We don’t live in the 1950’s or the Victorian Era, right?  I’m just checking… I like watching Downton Abbey but we aren’t living it today… are we?

I know PLENTY of really great, sane, solid parents.  They juggle a job (working at home or in a office, school, hospital etc.), managing the kids in multiple activities (soccer, volleyball, swimming, hockey, dance, music, kumon, etc.), maintaining their home all somehow holding on to their sanity.  You know who you are so I will not mention your name *Cough..Pam… cough*.

But then there are a whole other set of parents that I don’t get it.

Why are you letting your kids (little and adult alike) and spouses rule the world around you and make you miserable? Miserable to the point of having a nervous breakdown, sad to the point of giving up hope, overwhelmed to the brink of exhaustion. 

One moment I want to give you a big hug, comfort you and tell you it’ll be alright. “You can handle it”, “You’re not alone”, “Kids will be kids”, “MEN!”…”WOMEN!”. Then the next minute, I want to slap you upside the head, shake you by the shoulders, speak to you s.l.o.w.l.y so you understand (o.k. not slap you because slapping is wrong).


Because as much as we live in a world that likes to think that we should do it all, I don’t have time for those that think that they should, could or need to DO. IT. ALL.

STOP THE MADNESS… your kids, your spouse are all living breathing human beings that can HELP YOU.  

If you need to do 10 loads of laundry and you don’t know where to start?  Ask the people that are producing THAT laundry.  They are too young, you say?  

Guess what, that spouse that helped you miraculously produce that child prodigy can help. 

Children can also help at all stages (except when they are babies).


Taking baby steps (pun fully intended): Get your toddlers and small children to help sort the clothes.
Children CAN learn how to load the washing machine, measure the detergent and push a button or pull a knob (you can make sure that the right settings are on).

Children and teens can also fold laundry and put it away… yes, they can put it away…


The floor and/or the laundry basket is not where clothes belong… they belong in closets and drawers and bins and closets (I think I said that already).

Why are these life skills… yes, I’ll spell that out for you – L.i.f.e. S.k.i.l.l.s – so important to learn?  Because one day they will move out of your house… yes, they will leave home and they will have to do laundry and… guess what?…fold it and put it away. 

There is no fairy “fold” mother… There is not Leprechaun Cleaner. There is no Magician of Meal-making… There are no Martha minions that you can purchase at the store…
Make them face the ugly truth:

They WILL NOT HAVE THE MONEY TO HIRE A MAID UNTIL THEIR MID-THIRTIES… you know it, I know it, they just don’t know it yet…

Teach your kids to:

  • make dinner
  • set a table
  • serve dinner
  • clear the table
  • do the dishes
  • and clean the counters

Teach your kids to:

  • put their clothes in the laundry hamper (not the ‘laundry’ floor)
  • teach them to sort: lights (or whites), colours and darks.  Also delicates and hand washables (that don’t have to be hand washed, there is a setting for that on the machine – look for it, you will find it).
  • show them how to load a dryer and point out that spandex shorts and sports bras should be hung to dry… teach them that wool sweaters are rolled between towels twisted to get out the water then they are laid out flat to dry.
  • help them carry the clean laundry basket upstairs but make THEM put away their clothes

Teach your kids to:

  • clean a bathroom (the whole thing, not just the sink), scrub a toilet, wash a floor, clean a tub
  • pick up the garbage from every room, place it in a garbage can
  • then take it out to the curb
  • how to sort recycling items

Teach them to:

  • sweep and clean a floor… (on their hands and knees if they have to get a bad stain out)
  • how to clean a fridge (yes, this one skill will make a huge difference when they live in a house with 4 other people in university)

If you don’t teach them they will not learn… they will struggle… they may get a job sooner so they can afford a housekeeper .  Who am I kidding that doesn’t happen for most people until they have kids, two jobs and a small inheritance from their granny & granddad.

My last few weeks have been filled with women that need to have better support from their spouses and their children.  They just don’t know that this is part of being a grown up: asking, no demanding, asking again that they get help from the other people in their household. 

I ask you: why do they get to do whatever they want and YOU have to tackle everything else?

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  1. says

    I think part of the problem is that we all have those competing “friends” who make it seem like they can do it all. My kids are a huge part of the household and have their tasks to do, just as I do. A family needs to work together to keep some sanity.

    • says

      Catherine, I have to say the best gift my mother-in-law ever gave my husband is how to do laundry. She showed him when he was a teenager and basically he does it if it needs to get done. I sometime get caught doing other things but he has no problem starting a load to help out.

  2. says

    I totally agree! Another thing I never agree with is why should children be paid an allowance? I don’t think it teaches them proper morals about hard work. We aren’t always paid for everything and work saves money too!

    • says

      Like I said after the first comment, I think doing chores is being part of a family unit. I have no problem giving my kids money to go to the movies or for a special gift. That is part of being a good parent but I like to make sure their beds are made and rooms are neat (not perfect, just neat). All part of being a responsible person.

  3. says

    Yes They Should Have Chores My Son Helps Out with Taking Out The Trash But I Have To Admit I Feel Bad Sometimes & Just Do It Myself!! LOL!

  4. says

    That is some great advice. My daughter is two and I have already taught her to put her toys away in her bin and throw her garbage away.

    Michelle F.

  5. says

    Oh that goes without saying in the Mashed Up household. Mr. Mashed Up is a HUGE help! Baby Mash is learning to put up after himself. He’s one, so that’s good enough. lol

  6. says

    Everyone in my household had chores but we also received allowances based on how well we did on those chores – similar to adulthood – you do a great job, you get rewarded (bonuses, etc).

    • says

      Tiffany, I like the idea of being compensated according to a job well done but for extra things. Everyday ‘chores’ or responsibilities for my family are a given. You don’t get paid for doing your job as a family member. Extra stuff yes, what is expected as a contributor, no. I hope that makes sense.

  7. says

    I decided in my early teens that I didn’t want children, and now in my mid twenties nothing has changed, in fact I want them even less! I think knowing the children that I know, mostly from the neighbors I have, has turned me off from them. These parents around here are not doing their jobs. Their 5,6,7 year old children roam the streets at all hours of the day, playing in traffic or destroying lawns, then come inside and just scream and stomp all night. The world needs more parents like you. I am so thankful for my cats and ferrets. They are my babies.

  8. says

    Bravo! Part of being a family is helping out. That’s why we never did the allowance thing. Chores were just part of family life.

    • says

      Liz: we speak the same language. Thanks for dropping by and supporting. I have to admit, I’m glad I sat on this post for months. It would have just sounded like a crazy rant and someone would have been upset. Now, its just good advice to get before the start of school.

  9. says

    This is great! I do feel like I need to do it all, but I have a five and a two year old and a working husband so I feel like I should take on more. I do make my kids help with things they can help with , but for some reason I just can’t get them to do it without a little bribery because repeating over and over what they need to clean up is more exhausting than doing it myself. So I’ve been getting their help one jelly bean at a time. I guess I will have to take that away some day. Not sure how that will work. But I completely agree with your post!

  10. says

    Thanks for sharing great tips! I try to teach my toddler as much as I can. She takes her clothes to the washing machine, knows how to set a table and couple of things more, but can’t get her to help me with cleaning.

  11. says

    I so needed to read this. I’m a mom to 5 and when my husband is at work I do it all. It’s so frustrating and exhausting I can’t keep up. My oldest and youngest help out alot but I really need to work on the other 3 to have them help more.

  12. says

    I absolutely agree with you. Now I have to go and slap my neighbor who shoots fireworks at other houses, lets his kids drive 4x4s in their yard and otherwise be totally complete jerks. brb

  13. says

    You have no idea how much I needed to read this post today. I am in the process of moving and I am going to be setting new rules for the kids. I am a single mom and I need them to help me.

  14. says

    I totoally understand what you are saying. Being a parent is tough work and you try to be the parent but also want to be the fun one etc. I love your tips on it though. We all need help and no parent is perfect.

  15. says

    I agree a family does have to work together in order to keep a household running smoothly. I also have been known to call upon a housekeeper once a month to get the entire house clean areas that we don’t get to on a daily basis. Like scrubbing blinds, the refrigerator, stove etc.

  16. says

    We have always had intensives for our kids. Things they want they can get when they earn the money for them. I think they should be taught responsibility at a young age.

  17. says

    My hubs used to always ask why I wouldn’t sit down & spend sometime with him & the kids. Uh, because there was stuff that had to be done & no one would help! Since then, everyone helps some. Not as much as I’d like, but it’s a step in the right direction.

  18. says

    Ecuador has a very machiso culture and mothers are used to do everything. There is a huge generational gap now that young girls are cuddled just like the boys. And then they get married and their husbands, and the rest of the world, expect them to do everything. The culture is changing but it truly is baby steps.

  19. says

    I´m an old fashioned Latino woman. We are trained to do it all just by following our moms example. I´m trying hard to teach my daughter not to follow me, so I´m slaowly changing the way I do things.

  20. says

    Excellent post and I really must take your advice. Somehow when you are a stay at home mom they and you start to believe you are on duty 24/7 and all the jobs at home and with family are your jobs. Over the last year or so I have finally started to place at least some of my needs first and letting my kids own their wins and failures. Both my hubby and I have been much happier with this approach.

  21. says

    I believe being a mom to do it all has been handed down through many generations. It’s only been a recent development with social media and the internet where we’ve become so exhausted. We compare ourselves and feel we fall short. Moms always did it all, but now we want time for ourselves that I don’t think our mothers ever thought about because that was life then. I’m all for getting the kids to help, but sometimes we like to have so much control over the way things are done, we don’t actually want to give up our control. We just think we do

  22. says

    I have always ensured my daughter has chores – I did when I was youinger (a lot more, and many more dangerous!). We are not doing our children any favours by not assigning chores.

  23. Elena says

    I love this post… we are putting too much pressure on ourselves as parents these days and ultimately it will be a disservice to our kids.

  24. Vesper Meikle says

    In our home the parents were in charge and we did what we were told, and we were given jobs to do from an early age

  25. michelle matta says

    i grew up with few chores and i see the results of that. my children will have a list of progressively harder chores for their age, and consequences when they dont do them at all or well. i hope i can bridge the cap between army sergeant and teaching responsibility. but none of us are perfect.