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Kids, Chores and Pocket Money

Author: Naomi Liddell

Recently, at the dinner table, Gavin and Ethan were playing a game where they decided to be pirates. They talked about all the things they would do as pirates together and then Gavin said “What about Mum, who would she be?”. Ethan’s response was “She would be the lady who cleans the ship”. I stood up and left the table. It’s the first time I have ever been angry at something my 5 year old has said (bare in mind I’ve been angry at plenty of things he’s done in the past, but never really something he’s said). I know at first glance it may seem a bit irrational to get angry, but I have always wanted my boys to grow up with a healthy relationship towards women and this, felt like a step in the wrong direction. Team this with a few other incidents and we realised that his general assumption was that Mum cleans and we should sometimes ‘help her’. Obviously, this was not Ethan’s fault, but ours so we set about trying to course correct. 
I was really uncomfortable at the thought of Ethan seeing me as the cleaning lady in the house. Gavin did a great job of explaining to him that we all live in the house and make the messes so it’s not my job solely to clean up after everyone. We also agreed to stop using the words ‘Help Mum’ as if it were a charitable task to contribute to the running the house (something I was guilty of too – “Come and help me clean up your playdough”). The idea was to encourage him – and his little brother eventually – to take responsibility and contribute to the housework. And we’ve found a genius way to do this, which has also been a sanity saver for me.

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