We had househelp 24/7 when I was growing up in Brunei, the Muslim country in South East Asia where I spent the first 12 years of my life. Both my parents worked outside the home so having a housekeeper made life easier for us. Having househelp wasn't exactly a luxury. It was a way of life - very common in Brunei and in the Philippines.
Even with househelp, I was still asked to do some chores. Back then, I may not have truly appreciated the fact that I was still put to work. Today, I look back and I'm glad I did my share when asked. Even with chores, I know I did not miss out on play time.
Some chores I remember doing:
1. Sweeping the floor with a conventional broom, not a Shark cordless sweeper like I use today.
2. Mopping the floor with a conventional mop and bucket filled with cleaning solution, not like the electric Bissell steam mop like I use today.
3. Taking out the trash.
4. Setting the table for dinner.
5. Hanging wet clothes on the outdoor clothesline to dry and taking them in when they were dry. We didn't have a washer and dryer, but our househelp did all the laundry (by hand) and ironing.
6. Washing dishes. We didn't have a dishwasher.
7. Raking fallen leaves into a pile in the backyard. The pile was then burned.
8. Picking up my toys and putting them away when I was done playing.
9. Taking care of my cat.
I want to teach Matthew the value of hard work and responsibility through chores. If I see that he is perfectly capable of folding laundry or loading the dishwasher or making his bed when he's older, then I will teach him how to do it. Having Down syndrome will not excuse him from ability-appropriate chores. He's in-training already.
He used to be scared of our loud garage door. These days, he takes pleasure in pressing the button that opens and closes the garage door. It reinforces the concept of cause and effect and develops pointing skills. Our garage door button is narrow and small so he has to isolate his index finger (for pointing) to press the button. This "3rd hand option" is also very handy when I have him on one arm and grocery bags in my other hand.
He can push the laundry basket from the laundry room to the living room for me to fold and put away. To him, it's just another push toy. To me, it's a great way to develop muscle strength in his arms, back, and legs. Most times, he won't want to stop pushing the laundry basket around and will be quite annoyed if I make him stop or go the opposite direction of where he wants to go.
He helps close the dishwasher door when I'm done loading or unloading it. He loves to stand by me and watch. I usually let him have his toddler spoons to try to put into the dishwasher too. At times, he just enjoys "making music" with the pots and pans that are in the dishwasher.
He also has a special way to clean the sliding glass door. We didn't need Windex for this chore. Of course, I'm kidding! He was 17 months old in this photo and he just learned to pull up against the sliding glass door. The glass door was cold and probably felt interesting on his tongue.
Everyone has their own parenting style and viewpoint on chores. Ideally, I would want Matthew to be responsible for a few house chores when he's older, maybe have a shortlist, but also be able to balance chores with play time. Realistically, my "plan" may change as the rubber hits the road. If I'm still blogging when that time comes, I'm sure you'll be reading all about it.
Do your kids help with house chores? When did they start? Got any tips on getting them started, reward systems, etc?