Put Your Kids to Work

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Your kids need to work. This is not a post just for a few people; this is for all moms. It’s for you. If you have a child who has even limited physical abilities, he or she should be working. And if you happen to be one of those moms who says something like, “I tell my kids that school is their only job, and I’ll do everything else so they can devote themselves to getting good grades,” then this post is most definitely for you. 

sink with dirty dishes
Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

I’ll admit that to me it feels like World Upside Down when I’m trying to convince someone that her child should be working, and working HARD, at something other than (though not instead of) academics. Imagine our great-grandparents making an argument to their neighbors about why their kids should be feeding the animals, cooking a meal, running errands, or working in the family business. 

Don’t worry, I hear you complaining that I sound like a grumpy old lady. But really, friends, I’m all for progress! Machines that make our lives easier, good television, iPhones, and central air conditioning are all my friends. I don’t want to go backwards, but I do want to reclaim the good, normal idea that kids need to do hard things. 

Why Do Kids Need to Do Hard Work? 

Well, because there is work to do! Children aren’t trophies to be paraded around, bragged about, or displayed. They are integral parts of society and your family. Most of the time, they are more than capable of doing hard work, certainly more than most parents give them credit for, and most will rise to a tough occasion. As a bonus, doing hard work with your kids is a great way to grow your relationship. 

If your kid’s only regular chore is picking up his or her room, think about adding some work that benefits the whole family while also teaching valuable life skills. Washing or putting away dishes, doing laundry, vacuuming, mowing grass, pulling weeds, washing cars, scrubbing bathrooms, cooking, and cleaning windows are all things kids can be doing before they are teenagers.

boys mopping floor for chores

What About When Kids Don’t Do a Job Well?

I’ve been asked this question before, and I think the answer depends on the job itself and on your motivation. For instance, I don’t care about my kids’ clean laundry as long as it’s put away in drawers or hung up. I’m never going to check if it’s folded neatly or folded at all, because I just don’t care. But I will most definitely double-check that the toilet was cleaned well. THAT I care about.

Decide which things simply need to be done and which things must be done well. Give kids space to learn and grow and fail. But let that be an opportunity for constructive advice and problem-solving, ensuring better success next time. 

Today’s high school students spend amazing amounts of time studying, worrying about SATs and getting into the right college, or stressing about choosing just the right career path. But it’s alarming how many young adults are lacking in basic life skills that they will absolutely need to be successful spouses, parents, coworkers, neighbors, and friends. Don’t shortchange them by assuming they can’t be good students while also working hard to help their families, their communities, and themselves. 

Give them the tools they need! They’ll thank you for it later, and you’ll get the added benefit of having good assistants as you manage your family and belongings. Will hard work make them tired? It should! Will they ever get frustrated at their attempts to tackle a job? Most likely. Will they ever make more work for you while completing a task? Count on it. But don’t give up, and don’t let them give up. 

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