When I was younger I remember that all of the household chores were delegated to my sister and I while my little brother was able to enjoy playing, ALL THE TIME. My dad strongly believed that boys were not to do chores. He would say that things like washing dishes, vacuuming the floor, washing clothes or cleaning the bathroom were things for girls to do. The only job my brother had to do was throw out the trash. Really? I knew very early on that this was ridiculous. After all, it wasn’t just the girls who made the mess, but we had to clean it up. I remember my dad taking a seat at the table and waiting to be served. When he was finished with his meal, he simply got up and went to sit down or whatever else while my mom, sister and I cleared the table, washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. I couldn’t argue with this at the time, but now that I have a family of my own, oh yes, I certainly will not allow history to repeat itself.
I am in a home with my husband and three boys. I don’t want anymore children so having a daughter is out of the question for me, but I am totally ok with this. I have resolved it in my heart that I will absolutely raise my boys to fend for themselves. My husband and I disagree on this slightly. He is an only child and by his own admission was raised never to do chores so of course by the time we got together he was set in his way of not cleaning up after himself. I met him as a teenager and at the time I hadn’t developed a strong opinion about the matter. However, after YEARS of picking up after him and the boys and feeling taken advantage of at times, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I want to raise and train my boys to do everything a woman can do or is “expected” to do. I think it is time to do away with these old fashioned traditions.
When I was pregnant with our second son I was hoping for a girl so that my husband’s perspective on women’s roles would change. That didn’t happen so when we became pregnant with number three I was hopeful once again. My mindset was all wrong. I am blessed and completely happy with three boys and I have embraced it. I realized that I didn’t need a daughter to change my husband’s views. I have been given an opportunity to prepare three little boys to one day become wonderful, helpful husbands to their future wives. Yes, I was given a gift.
My oldest is 7 and the middle one is 4. While I can’t have them washing dishes just yet, I have had them help out in other areas. They usually help me wash clothes and I have begun to show them how to fold. This can be frustrating at times, but it is necessary. I have them help me put their own clothes away. I have them work together to fold blankets. I have had my oldest vacuum the inside cushions of the couches. I started to explain to them how to clean a toilet bowl (they know this is coming soon for them). The 4 year old already assists me in sweeping the floor. They both know how to clear the table and place their dishes in the sink. They are to pick up their clothes from the floor and place them in the dirty clothes basket. I expect them to do whatever I ask of them. I don’t think it’s harsh. I explain to them that mommy does the bulk of the work around the house and yet, I am the one who makes the least mess. There’s definitely some inequality in that and my oldest has said several times, “that’s not fair mommy.” Bless his heart.
I explain to my boys that I want them to grow up to be self sufficient men. They need to know how to cook for themselves, for example. My boys know that as they get older, I will expect them to cook family meals at times and clean the kitchen all by themselves. You see, I don’t view this as punishment. They have not done anything wrong. I want them to appreciate all that a woman brings to the table. I want them to know that if a woman wants to clean up after them it’s because it is her choice. Let’s get away from this idea that if a woman can’t cook then she’s not good wife material. This is ludicrous. Let’s understand that a man and a woman share a home together. They both eat, they both make a mess, they are in it together so they ought to share the responsibilities. Otherwise, what happens? the woman gets left with all the household chores and eventually she experiences burnout.
My husband stayed at home with our oldest son for two years. It was great for him. He got to sleep in til 9:00 a.m every morning while I got up and worked full time. He got to play with our son ALL day and go visit whoever he wanted during the day and by the time I got home around 5:30 pm, I had to start my second shift at home. I still had to come home and clean up the huge mess that they left, I had to prepare dinner and clean up the kitchen. My husband could not wait until I got home from work because he was eager to get to the gym. I would walk in from work, we’d chat for a bit and off he’d go. This eventually did take a toll on things and only after I became a monster did things start to change.
He has gotten better over the years. He now regularly assists me with giving the kids a bath at night; he does put a load of laundry in the washer when he sees it piling up; he occasionally will cook breakfast on the weekend so I can sleep in for a little while. He makes me coffee when he can; he washes dishes sometimes (although we’re still working on getting him to completely clean the kitchen and not just the dishes, but hey I’ll take what I can get). He has come a long way, but there are still some things we can work on.
I love my boys and I truly want them to be productive and not dependent. I’m not raising little princes. My job is to prepare them for the real world. There’s no reason why boys and men cannot assist in household chores. They’re not so special that they can expect women to pick up after them. Their time is no more valuable than women’s. We are all busy. We all occupy this space so let’s take care of our space together.