Tag Archives: chores

The Emotions of Help

I trained both my kids to pack their own lunch boxes before the start of school. The other day I finished my morning routine early and casually asked my 8-year-old if he wanted help. “Help?!” he retorted, scorn in his … Continue reading

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2 Responses to The Emotions of Help

  1. I admire that you assign tasks by child, temperament, and capability.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks, Laurie. I remember your parents also tailored tasks to fit each child. Personalities do come different!

Wisdom from Vermont

One of the stops I made on my book tour this summer was Phoenix Books in Burlington, Vermont.  There, next to my poster on the bookstore window, was a poster for another parenting book by Vermonter Vicki Hoefle.  Vicki and … Continue reading

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9 Responses to Wisdom from Vermont

  1. deidra says:

    I remember when I was in 2nd grade. I told my mom I didn’t like what she packed me for lunch and I was going to make my own lunch from now on. She said fine and I made my own lunch every day from that point on. She even mentioned once she thought I made good choices. Sandwich, piece of fruit, celery and carrot sticks.

  2. “letting kids problem-solve, gain trust, and take reasonable risks.”

    yes, Yes, YES! – I love this approach!

  3. Wes says:

    it depends on how you view work. if your view is some type of successor to the puritan work ethic, the work is healthy, purifying, and the path to righteousness/dependence. However, for most people, every hour they spend on the job is an hour their boss get more of their time than they do. We spend out whole lives working. My parents discouraged me from trading the only time I had to be young for minimum wages dollars to buy junk, and I’ll be sure to do the same.

  4. Pingback: Messy, True, But Worth It: Real Duct Tape Parenting Adventures | Vicki Hoefle

  5. Erin says:

    Terrific! We’re raising adults, not children. Friends are shocked that all my kids (6-14) make their own lunches, get their own snacks and drinks, have chores, etc. It’s not hard. You catch them when they’re 2 and they WANT to help, then they’re “sucked in” and can’t help it! My children also know that we will pay for necessities, but anything else (car, cell phone, etc) is THEIR responsibility and we expect them to earn it somehow. Too many adults (in age only) leech off their parents because said parents didn’t want to “make” them do anything responsible.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Erin, sounds as if you might be from Vermont! Or at least read Vicki’s book/ could have written it yourself. Leeching goes on as long as parents let it, and responsibility feels great. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. L.C. says:

    Great post, Heather. My observation comes from a (former) child’s perspective. I’m 23 now.

    I think it’s interesting how Vicki gives doing laundry as an example of something kids should know before age 9. My mother refused to teach me how to do laundry when I asked, which was multiple times throughout my childhood (including a few weeks before I left for college). Her reason? I “should” know how to do laundry at age 17, and she forbade me from even TRYING, because I would probably make a mistake and ruin the whole load. When I arrived on campus three weeks later, I triple-checked the directions on the detergent bottle and washing machine, then pressed the little “start” button…and heaved a huge sigh of relief when I didn’t blow up the machine. I was competent enough to do a load of laundry! Who knew?!

    Additionally, my parents always complained that I was “lazy” and “never did anything around the house.” I specifically remember asking my parents when I was 7 for more chores (I’ll admit it’s because I wanted more allowance. That, and I was tired of being labeled “lazy” even though I worked hard and got straight A’s in school). My parents laughed it off, saying even if I asked to help around the house, I still wouldn’t do it. And on the occasion where I did do chores (like cleaning the bathroom), my parents would often barge in and “correct” whatever I was doing. When they did that, I always slunk back to my room and stayed there, because even if I did “get up and do something,” it was always done wrong. It was better if I just sat in my room and did nothing and listened as my parents complained about how much work they have to do.

    So my message to parents (and myself as a future parent) is that your kids WILL make mistakes doing chores. Maybe they will accidentally tie-dye your laundry, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t ever attempt it. Maybe they will miss a ton of spots while cleaning the bathroom counter, but you can’t expect them to do better if you just yank the sponge out of their hand and tell them what a sloppy job they’re doing. Raising confident children is not about telling them “great job” at every minor achievement. It’s about making them feel like they matter, and that their efforts are needed to sustain the household – not like they’re just some lazy lump who is begrudgingly waited on hand and foot.

    Again, great post. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Interview with Vicki Hoefle: Author of “Duct Tape Parenting,” PLUS a GIVEAWAY! | Abundant Life Children

Starting an Allowance

I was rather startled to read on several parenting websites that the “standard” allowance these days is considered to be $1 = 1 year of age. Seriously?  That means a five-year-old gets to spend $5 per week and a nine-year-old … Continue reading

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7 Responses to Starting an Allowance

  1. Emily Plank says:

    Hi Heather,

    I love this post! I just finished reading “First National Bank of Dad” (which I have to say, I almost didn’t buy because I was offended by the bias communicated through the title…but it was highly recommended from other like-minded parents). It was a good read, and recommends the same thing you’re suggesting. It also recommends paying interest, which I thought was a very compelling idea – interest to encourage savings, and teach the actual workings behind the financial system. Anyway, thank you!

    Best, Emily

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Emily. Parents are a child’s first experience with money and banking. I hadn’t thought of paying interest – my 8-year-old has a bank account that’s supposed to teach that – but the rates are so dismally low right now that the idea of interest barely adds up.

  2. Heather – “I want to teach my children money management, not how to be constant consumers.” I absolutely love your take on this.

    And the fact that, “An allowance is given to teach a child about money. It should be separate from chores.” yes, Yes, YES!

  3. I agree with allowances not being tied to chores. Amounts and when to start giving kids allowances should be on an individual basis and like you said, tailored to where you live.

    The only constant there should be is some sort of savings component that teaches delayed gratification and working toward long term goals. I also think paying interest is a great idea.

    However, interest rates are so incredibly, artificially low that showing a child his ten dollars in a savings account earned a whopping 0.04% last year, which translates to less than one cent, might be so depressing that he/she decides to heck with saving a blows it all on video games or energy drinks.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      I hear you…interest rates are so low they can be meaningless to kids. I think that’s why some parents act as they “bank” themselves and offer a decent savings interest rate so the kids get it. Good point indeed.

Mean Mom Manifestos

I wrote recently about chores, and today guest author Denise Schipani, author of Mean Moms Rule is joining me to share her thoughts on the subject.  She also touches on another important aspect of this blog, which is how to … Continue reading

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2 Responses to Mean Mom Manifestos

  1. What a pleasure to meet you, Denise. I enjoyed reading your guest post, particularly that you factor in a child’s abilities and proclivities, rather than having hard and fast rules.

    Growing up my parents treated my sister and I differently, and our consequences for poor behavior were different as well. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I asked my mom about that. She said, “Why on earth would I treat the two of you the same? You’re different people, you have different likes and dislikes, and you respond differently.”

    • Thanks, Laurie! That was my grandmother’s parenting advice: “Your kids will let you know how they need to be parented.” That said, though I tailor my approach to fit my two very, very different sons, the rules are the same for them both. Mama’s in charge around here!


Cherishing Chores

We have a new chore chart up on the wall.  Until recently, my kids were still struggling with the basic tasks of personal maintenance — getting dressed, brushing teeth, fetching their own bowls and spoons, pouring milk and tucking their … Continue reading

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8 Responses to Cherishing Chores

  1. Heather – I love the photograph, it’s exceptional! And I agree with your thoughts on chores. It uplifts one’s self-esteem to know they’re making a positive contribution.

    When I was growing up my sister and I washed and dried dishes, feather dusted, and we learned to sort laundry by whites, darks, brights. As we got older, mom added vacuuming, Windexing windows, and ironing our own clothes. As a family with dogs, we also had the grand chore of “poop patrol.”

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks! The picture came from a camping trip – lots of camp chores there, too. Thanks for sharing your childhood chores – including poop patrol!

  2. I had the “usual chores”–at least we thought they were usual because it seemed like every kid in the neighborhood had them. Washing and drying dishes, making one’s bed, cleaning one’s room, mowing and shoveling, picking dandelions (One cent per flower! lol Didn’t matter if we got much of the root, though.)

    I don’t have kids but I think kids should start doing basic chores as soon as they are able to do so. Even a two year old can be told to put toys from the floor into the toy chest. Best of all, I think youngsters often take great pride in helping Mom and Dad. It shows the world that they are “grown up” and gives them self-confidence. The same reason most of us work as adults: we feel important and valued.

  3. Vicki says:

    My 21 month old son doesn’t have chores, but he loves helping around the house! He puts his toys away, puts dishes away, puts his dirty clothes in the hamper, etc. I only use a stroller when he wants to go for a stroll, otherwise he walks or rides in the sling. He loves helping and carrying his own things. I hope I can help him maintain his interest in participating in our family in this way.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Sounds as if you’ve got a great helper! Lots of toddlers like to “help” (helpful or not) and it’s great that you’re encouraging his independence. Things do change as kids grow older, but if you keep giving him ways to exercise independence and feel part of the family at the same time, your little helper may continue to be a cheerful helper as he grows. Enjoy! And thanks for stopping by.

  4. Bianca says:

    Left comments over at the post on What To Expect! Thanks for srhniag! Got to show my kids I am not the only Mom who expects her kids to get off the couch and contribute to the household!! We pretty much run our houses the same way it sounds like. Just recently my kids started being responsible for doing their own laundry. I highly recommend it! They need to know how to do it and it took a huge load of me!! I had to set a few rules. The main one being no starting a load after 8 pm and no leaving your clothes in the dryer for me to deal with while you are gone at school etc…

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Bianca, and thanks for sharing, too. Laundry is a great one for kids. Pretty easy and a big time saver for parents. Your point is good – we teach them first, then the methods can be refined, but the main point is to get them doing it. Way to go.