Cape Town – After a mentally and physically draining day at school, coming home to chores is undoubtedly the last thing any child wants to do. Not to mention all that homework.
However, parenting experts say juggling chores and homework is exactly what children need to help them develop confidence, self-belief and a sense of responsibility.
Dr Nadia Loewke, a medical doctor with a special interest in mental health, says the general consensus is that it is good for children to participate in household chores as it enables them “for later in life”.
“It gives the child a sense of competence, teaches adulthood skills, and allows them to feel they are contributing to the family,” she says.
“Parents are often caught in a paradigm of feelings of resentment if the children don’t help versus fearing that they are applying more pressure in an already stressful routine for their child.”
Loewke says parents often feel apologetic about giving their children chores, rather than realising that this gives them a role in the household and creates a feeling of security.
“They (children) become empathetic to others and are more compassionate towards their colleagues later in life.”
Mother of three, Nosipho Khumalo, says her two older daughters, 11 and 8 years old, started doing chores at the age of 5.
“We don’t have a helper at home anymore so they help do the dishes, they clean the bath after themselves, polish their own school shoes every Sunday and the older one just started baking,” says the proud mother.
Khumalo says her children usually finish their homework at aftercare, so their chores do not interfere with their school work.
“Sometimes they don’t finish all their work, but their chores only take a few minutes so there is enough time to do homework.”
Vivianne Stuurman says her daughter, Sihle, 6, does her chores over weekends.
Stuurman says her child has been doing easy chores since she was 3.
“On weekends I let her wash her own underwear, she has no chores during the week.
“By the age of 3, her chores were to pick up all her toys after she and her friends were done playing.”
Fayroze Hendricks Kensley says her daughters, Tatum, 8, and Zoe, 13, do chores such as washing their school socks and shirts, and helping with the dishes.
“Tatum needs to undress herself after school and wash her socks, make sure all her toys are picked up and she helps with the dishes,” says Hendricks Kensley.
“She must also ensure she packs her school bag and does her homework.
“Zoe needs to undress after school, wash her shirt and socks, do the dishes. She must also tidy her room, do homework and ensure her school bag is packed for the next day.”
Mother of four, Bohemia Hofmeester, says thanks to her many helpers she has more time to help with their homework.
“My 8- and nine-year-old actually do the most,” she admits.
“They clean the bathroom and my 8-year-old, who is very helpful, will also go ahead and clean the living room as well. They also clean their bedrooms.
“My 15-year-old does the dishes and cleans her room,” she says.
Hofmeester says her 7-year-old son has no chores.
“When I get home from work, I help with their homework.”
Creative parenting expert, Nikki Bush, says chores teach a child set skills that are different to what they learn at school.
Bush says children as young as 3 can – and should – be tasked with chores.
“No household can exist without chores being done,” Bush says.
“Parents need to be invitational and include children in the chores from a young age, as early as 3 years old.
“Often busy parents default to doing everything themselves because it is quicker and more efficient.”
Bush suggests starting off with simple chores like feeding pets, hanging their towels, making their bed and clearing plates from the table.
“These are everyday chores and many hands make light work.
“This is a first form of working as a team and these chores do not take long, so it can be incorporated into the daily routine even on school days when children have homework.”
Bush adds: “Children who become competent at doing chores develop confidence and self-belief because parents believe enough in their children to give them age-appropriate responsibility.”