My house-help of two years suddenly informed me of her mother’s illness and the need to travel to see her.  I gave her a few weeks off, but guess what, I have not heard from her till date.  For a working mother with three kids to take care of, one can imagine the effect of this unanticipated situation. Getting a replacement was futile.  My husband and I decided not to venture into getting another help as the last girl ran away leaving my kids all alone in the house. This condition afforded me the opportunity of involving my children fully in house chores such as doing the dishes and laundry, sweeping, cleaning the bathroom, taking out the trash, making their beds and even cooking some simple meals.  Together we set up a schedule of chores for every child to perform including my smallest boy who is six.


We are our children’s first teachers.  From their beginning they rely on us for everything.  It is our duty to teach them the basics of responsibility towards themselves and others.  Teaching your children about doing household tasks is one of the best ways for them to learn life-long good habits.  Your kids might groan about doing household chores, but it is your duty to see that they accomplish them.

As children, I remember we all detested the inevitable demands of our parents to clear our room, sweep the floor, set the dining table, wash the dishes etc.  But looking back, it’s easy to see how these “tedious chores” we were forced to do helped to shape our ideas of hard work.

We live in a society that somehow has moved away from core values like hard work.  We have produced generation of kids who don’t want to study or do anything that does not involve computer games.  Many moms and dads probably had chores in their childhood years, but now they somehow believe that they are good parents if they give their children everything.  The result has been a generation of young boys and girls who are often lazy, materialistic, disrespectful and self-centered. In those days, when an older person is sweeping, you are expected to take the broom and finish up the sweeping.  What do we have now, children who will even raise their legs for their parents to sweep. It is no more news to hear that a bride is sent packing out of her matrimonial home for lack of good culinary and housekeeping skills. Food they say is the way to a man’s heart. All these attitudes start from childhood.

Most of us had household chores assigned to us as children.  Now as parents we should assign chores to our children.  At some point, your children may feel it’s unfair, but you know what? It is not unfair but it’s for their own good.  What lessons are they learning when they do chores?


Responsibility: Children learn how to be responsible for themselves and others while doing chores.  Children that don’t learn how to do chores will carry that mind-set through life.  It may seem unreasonable to them now, but household chores teach them that there are certain things in life we must do.

Teamwork: Since everyone in the house will have chores they have to accomplish, your children will learn that when everyone work together to accomplish their goals, the work can be done faster and more efficiently. If everyone in the household has certain tasks for which they are responsible, then there is a sense of working together.  When they work together, there is a great sense of belonging to a group.  Your child may not realize this consciously and may take this for granted, but it is definitely a gift and a wonderful lesson to learn.

Organization: When your children accomplish their chores they will see how much better it is to have things in an orderly fashion.  Organization is an important tool that we use throughout our lives.  It is much easier to find something we are looking for when it is where it should be.  Your children will soon realize that things are easily done when they are organized.

Appreciation: When you have practised doing chores, you will understand the work that goes into.  If your child has experienced this, then they will learn appreciation when you do things for them that require work, because they can identify with how much effort goes into the task.

Good work ethic: Your children will learn about good work ethics through tasks completion.  They will know what is expected of them and know that they have to complete it within a certain amount of time in order to get the reward that lies at the end.  The reward could be something as simple as being able to go outside to play after their chores are done.  When they get older and have to take a regular job, they will know that if they  complete their tasks there will be the reward of a paycheck at the end.  Children will also learn that when they want something, they have to work to get it.  This is an urgent message to send to the children.  There is nothing worse than to see a child who has become so dependent on their parents that when they become adults they have no idea how to make it in the world.

Self-sufficiency: When children grow up and need to be on their own, there are a lot of things they will need to know how to do to be able to function.  A male colleague gained admission to study a Masters programme abroad, he was all alone. His mum had to explain how to cook rice and stew to him on the telephone! House chores must not be left for girls alone, boys need to learn how to cook meals, wash the dishes and other general cleaning basics.


If children are taught responsibility and accountability early in their lives, these attributes will carry over to school, homework, and to any job they perform as adults.  Any company that hires these dependable adults will thank the responsible parents who reared them.

Parents, please take advantage of this vacation to teach your kids some household tasks and cooking of meals.  Do not leave the domestic chores to house-helps, laundry man, cook, gateman or the gardener. The bible says in Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”.

By the way, as I was rounding up this piece, my thirteen year old daughter echoed to me, “Mum, your fried yam and plantain is ready, can I bring it over”?  Then I said to myself, “Thank God, this is really paying off”.  Household chores really are a great learning tool.  It is an opportunity to share sometime with your kids.  Have fun and make the best of it.

contributed by Christianah Akindolie
Founder/Project Coordinator, CFF
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