Should kids do chores?

I’m told that youngsters can help out around the house. I’ve never seen it happen, but I’m told it’s a thing. Perhaps I wasn’t required to help out enough when I was growing up. Perhaps it’s easier to just do things myself. Perhaps I’m actively cultivating a monster, but I don’t ask much of my daughter, Viva.  

According to most experts, there’s plenty a child can do. Even 2- to 3-year-olds can allegedly pick up their toys and wipe up spills, though I was happy enough during those years if toys weren’t thrown at my head and smoothies weren’t poured directly on the couch. By 7, a child can allegedly sweep, make a bed and pick out their own outfits. Left to do those things herself, Viva will turn the sweeping into a Quidditch match, the bed into a fort and the outfits would be ball gowns every day at school.

With both my wife and I working in the arts, chores around our house can be different than in other families. “Sweep up the sequins” is pretty common, as is, “File the libretti by draft date,” and of course there is always, “Validate us with applause.” I guess our daughter is pretty good at all of these. I named her “Viva Boresi” for a reason.

When I do ask for more challenging chores to be done, Viva runs a pretty effective scam. She asks, “Can’t you help me, Daddy?” while batting her big brown eyes (and knowing I’m pretty obtuse). By the time I realize she’s been watching She-Ra instead of helping, I’ve already cleaned up all the toys and hung up all the costumes.

I suppose it’s time I up my expectations for work around the house. It comes with a price, though. Little hands setting the table means searching for matching Fiestaware to replace what’s been dropped. Little arms mopping means a flooded room, and little minds organizing clothes means… well, at 7 she can probably organize a drawer better than I can, so there’s that.

I’ll see what I can do to ask for more help around the house, but, really, can’t all these chores just wait until she goes to college? We’ve got playing to do.

Viva Housework. Viva Viva. Viva Daddy.

This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue. 

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