When I was your age

When I was your age, I listened to every command of my mum and dad. I was never ever naughty. I spontaneously cleaned off the table and did the dishes. I always washed the car when asked. And I mowed the lawn showing my biggest smile. Even the difficult side parts.

Yeah right! Whenever my husband Jo starts a story with ‘when I was your age’, I am 100 % certain none of our kids will hear what follows. Sounds familiar? Why is it that we always refer to the time when we were little to make a point to our kids?

Today is not yesterday. If you are my age (42), you grew up without computers, let alone tablets. Distraction was limited and time to get bored abundant. I did not practice 2 sports and learned to play a musical instrument and went to ballet courses. My mum had one simple rule: ‘If you can’t get there by foot or bike, you can’t go’. So we spent hours and hours in the backyard of our house, or those of our neighbors, playing cowboy & Indian, cards, hide and seek or whatever came to mind. Or we were just plain bored. But it seems that triggers creativity, research has shown.

Honestly, I do not really remember if we had to do chores at home. But I do see a lot of people around me that are totally stressed out because they hardly ever ask their teens to help out at home. Of course it’s not going to be perfectly done, the way you would have done it. Get over it and start to delegate. The button on their iPad is not that different from the button on your dishwasher. I wonder though if always asking them to do stuff doesn’t make them stupid. Do they actually learn to see work if we teach them to only act upon command? Some of our kids are naturally more helpful than others, so I do watch out to keep some kind of equilibrium. In comes the daily recurring discussion ‘I already set the table’, ‘ I did the dishes last night’, ‘Why do you always ask me to clean up?’.

If you are in a blended family, don’t be fooled by the classic ‘At my mum/dads house, I never have to do this’. Just answer ‘You do here’. Every household has its own rules and as a couple, you should set those rules and act upon them. Let go of frustration about any rules ‘on the other side’ you do not agree with. It’s a waste of energy and moreover, ‘they’ have a right to set their own rules, it’s just not your business.

One thing is for certain: even after repeating what chore needs to be done this time, even 1000 times, they still need a reminder. I used to stress over that. Now, I no longer do. I just ask and ask and ask again, and try to keep calm. And that works better on some days than others …

2 thoughts on “When I was your age

  1. Elke, the kids are right. You prove to them that house chores are work. Why should they happily volunteer for that? Are you sure kids have to learn to not like to do things from a young ago? Now if you turn that activity into fun together, they would gladly join. And why isn’t it fun ?


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