Healthy Lifestyle

You are not a Cleaning Machine!

Why is it that in some homes one person ends up doing all the work? And trust me, it’s not always the woman either. 


Men and women should share the workload equally – that is, if they share the responsibility to raise an income equally. In our marriage it has always worked like this: If both of us worked full time, the household chores were an equal responsibility – 50/50. If one worked part time, it became a 70/30 split. If one were unemployed, that person is solely responsible for the household. It is only fair after all! We have been married for 21 and a bit years now, and it is still working.

It can be a lot of fun to clean together. Don’t make it a chore, make it a game or even romantic! This way you will actually look forward to doing it together …

And then there is the children. I know I don’t have any, but I used to be a teacher for long enough to know that children should do chores. It is actually good for them! Even when they don’t think so!


Prime example: I have a friend who is really struggling to get the household to run smoothly. She has three children and a husband. But no-one does anything to help. Why??? I asked her. Her answer? When she was growing up, they had a full-time maid who worked for her parents. It was never expected of her to do any chores. Now as a grown woman, with a household of her own, but no money for a maid, let alone a full time one, she doesn’t have the first clue how to organize herself or her family. 


After this conversation she finally understood how important it is for children to have responsibilities in the house. She still has to ask for help, because she did not teach the children at a young age to take responsibility, but at least when she asks, they now help. But imagine if she taught this to them from a young age …

Another example: Another friend is a single mom, with a son. She is teaching him that some tasks you HAVE to do – just like when you are a grown-up, there is certain things that is not negotiable – you simply have to do it whether you feel like it or not. Other tasks you can choose to do, or not – but she attached a value to these tasks (clever woman). So if you do them, there is a reward, just like at work (hopefully, if you work on commission basis), the harder you work, the bigger the pay cheque. She took it a step further, and is teaching him to save 10% of his money, but that is a post for another day. (He is only 8 years old, by the way – what a foundation for bringing up a responsible adult!)


Last example: I have a friend who taught both her children from a very young age that they are not allowed to play with the next toy if the previous one was not put away first. A lot of people thought she was ‘over the top’, ‘too strict’, but I tell you, her kids pick up after themselves! She did not turn into their maid! This translated to them making their own beds as soon as they were old enough, as well as having cleaning chores. It is a joy to visit them!


So how to implement this if it is a foreign concept in the home…

  • To start with, call a family meeting. Explain (in the nicest possible way) that you are done picking up and cleaning after every-one. 
  • Have a list of everything that needs to be done in the home ready (don’t be caught with your pants down. If you don’t write it down before hand, you will forget things, they will not mention it and it will simply become your responsibility, again). 
  • Have a discussion about the split of responsibilities and why you are suddenly expecting it from them.
  • Make it sound like fun! This is a brilliant way to build relationships!
  • Make sure every-one knows what is expected from them and when.
  • If you want to you can also add in a consequence list – what will happen if you don’t do your chores …


And no, no child over the age of two is too young to have chores! Believe me, if you make it fun, they will 1. want to do it 2. fight to have a turn, instead of fighting about whose turn it is. 

Kids and mother washing the dishes

Here is a few ideas for chore charts, as well as age appropriate chores.

Let me know how you are getting on with this in the comment section



5 thoughts on “You are not a Cleaning Machine!”

  1. “You are not a Cleaning Machine!” —very true!

    But I wonder if those who posted the “age-appropriate chores” for children have experienced doing so themselves—esp. between ages 2-3? I think these chores should be picked with the child’s safety in mind. You can’t ask them to help around the house when they could barely understand what’s going on around the house.

    As a firstborn among five children from a poor home, I was taught to do chores at age 6. I washed dishes and cooked rice while standing on a chair. No dish washer, no rice cooker. I cooked rice, meaning I did everything to put on a family table a well-cooked rice. I also swept the floor, tidy up the bed, and took care of my younger siblings when my mother had to do the laundry. I also did other small chores that my parents would tell me to do. The number of chores increased as my age increased.

    Did I enjoy my childhood because I did chores at an early age? Parents should put themselves in their child’s shoes. As a child I was always questioning why I was made to do things, why I had to be the one doing something, or why something has to be done. At six, because we were poor, I didn’t even know anything about money and that you have to have money before you could buy a book. I just thought that children were born into a certain house, and you just exist in that house and do what you’re told, ask for permission for almost everything, and make sure you don’t make mistakes because you’re going to be punished…

    Doing chores should be shared at home, and this is what we were taught at a young age. But as the eldest, I did more chores because I was “bigger.” The problem here is when children want to go out and play, or read books or learn something new, like in my experience, they couldn’t do it because they’re stuck with chores.

    I think it helps when the mother asks the child to do something for her, to “help Mom” with something, instead of putting rules around the house and ordering kids to do chores. And then complimenting the child’s effort and encouraging the child to do better because she/he could improve, instead of giving some reward or prize in return (which won’t work if you’re poor). Because it’s one thing to learn that you get a prize for doing something, it’s another to learn to love the process of doing something and improving, and getting your “reward” from seeing that you’re able to do something that grownups do, as well as your own improvement. Children who learn only how to do something because they get a prize for it will find it difficult to learn how to do things without being told. It’s like what dog trainers do, but children are not dogs—they can learn to appreciate their ability to do something and improve, even without any compliment, reward, or bribery from adults.

    As for the couple doing chores together, which is very ideal, you’d be lucky to find a spouse like the one you have who understands life at home. You are blessed among most women. 🙂


    1. Hi Melissa
      Yes, I agree that I am blessed, even my dad won’t do these things. Also about chores, that’s why I feel if you can make it a game – i.e. see who can do it the fastest or a bonding experience, in other words, mom does it with you, it’s not you doing mom’s work, it would be very different from just being told – you have to do this.
      That’s why it’s so important to have a family meeting about it – then it is an agreement, not a rule.
      The other very important thing to remember is that a two year old can do very easy chores – they won’t do it perfect though – and you have to be ok with that. You need to praise them for the effort, not the result.
      My friend who gives her son rewards, does so for very specific tasks, not all his chores and then he still need to choose to do those.
      Also rewards does not need to be money – it can be extra tv time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s good when you could talk with your family about it and explain to the children that it’s meaningful and fun to help each other.

        Right, I also like that idea of turning chores into a game–we didn’t do that. That would be fun. 🙂

        Maybe you could also ask your children to list what “rewards” excite them? What do you think?


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