When your children have to undertake chores..

I am a working mother with two kids. In our household, kishanbhai, our house help, plays the role of a traditional mother. He looks after our food, laundry and makes sure we come home to a clean house. We are one of the lucky people who get good house help and I owe much of my career’s success to Kishanbhai!

Now, when he goes on leave during school days, it’s a great hassle. and I am sure a lot of moms would understand the troubles that ensue.

However, this time I decided to make it a learning experience for all of us in the family. First I convinced myself that I will have to put in extra work as I cannot keep depending on other maids. Then I took it up to my kids and my husband and asked for their cooperation. What happened thereafter with the kids was truly enjoyable.

The first day, I asked them to fold their blankets and pack up the lunch boxes, they enthusiastically did so. They wanted to “help” momma. They were good children.

On the second day, some lips started to curl when asked for help with the dishes and the laundry. I persisted and they relented.

The third day, they were missing Kishanbhai more than me.

The fourth day, they rebelled and refused to help. But they forgot they were dealing with a greater rebel. I too refused to cook or clean and started with my office work. They had picked the wrong fight and went back to work, albeit with a heavy sigh. Gratitude for kishanbhai peaked that evening.

This episode taught them that household duties are a part of their life and that a cup of milk does not clean itself and come back filled up the next morning. It needs scrubbing, washing, wiping and organizing to be found in the rack again next morning. No amount of preaching, discussion or explaining would have taught them what they learnt in this week.

Talk of experiential learning.

Besides the humor part, I realized that we as parents rarely ask them to do such chores. If we don’t let them learn these things, they never will. They grow up feeling entitled to a clean home, a well-stacked laundry and a home-cooked ready meal.

And by they, I refer to both my son and daughter.  I am sure no girl in her right mind would want a partner who can’t lift a finger to help in the house. I sure don’t want my son to grow up to be one. And neither do I want my daughter to grow up to be someone who can’t fetch for herself and is constantly cribbing about how maids don’t do “proper work”.

The week passed and kishanbhai was welcomed with great fanfare. However, next time he takes off, I am sure my children and I will be better prepared. And their future partners sure won’t curse me for having raised an adult baby!

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