The only thing my kids don't do is separate and run the laundry. They bring their clothes downstairs,
dry it, fold it and put it away. Been cooking since they could sit up..had the girl cutting cucumbers and
washing fruit so young I'm embarrassed to say. Bathrooms for years. I them no help = no fun for them.
When the chores are done we hit the road and make great summer memories. Plus I hope they keep
things cleaner if they know they will be wiping up that toothpaste glob!
This is what I strive for. My kids have also been chopping veggies since they could hold the knife. They can cook entire meals by themselves. Of course they still need help with certain things, but for the most part, they can do everything on their own. Sunshine has been baking on her own for over the past year. All I do is put things in and take them out of the oven. When Monster was 8, he cooked an entire meal, down to the dessert, on his own. True, he used the crockpot, but it still counts since he had to do all the prep work on his own. I still pack my children's lunches because that's fun for me, but they are perfectly capable of doing it on their own. In fact, I don't make lunches in the summer or on weekends. They are responsible for their own lunches. The best part of that is, they make healthy choices. A lot of the time, people are scared of letting their children take control because of the choices their children will make, but that's why we need to teach them before just letting them go off and do something. You aren't going to just drop your baby in water and hope they learn to swim. You teach them.
Cleaning is where our family struggles. I am not a neat freak. I've written about this before, I have organized chaos. However, my house is CLEAN. Like you can eat off the floor (most days, maybe not yet today). So, clean is something I have a difficult time giving up control of. There is a lot of, "Here, just let me do it", on my part. Over the past year, I've gotten much better at this. I realized I was doing way too much when my then 11 year old stated, "I don't know how to clean the table" and proceeded to do the worst job you have ever seen. If you can't use a spray bottle and paper towel and wipe down a table, there's a problem. Part of the problem was that I never made him do it. Another part of the problem was he never wanted to do it. Sunshine was always the one who wanted to help. Since Sunshine would always help out, we didn't really need Monster to do it.
In the past year, I've taken a huge step back and have put more responsibility on the kids. Know what? They stepped up. Now, my kids won't just clean for the fun of it, unless it's their rooms, but they are much better about keeping things clean and doing what I ask. They clean the bathroom, toilets included, vacuum, mop, and dust. They don't do windows, but neither do I (but I did just buy a Norwex window cloth, so maybe that will change?). They take their dirty clothes downstairs, take clothes out of the dryer, fold their clothes, and put them away. We still have top loading washer, so Sunshine can't reach to take clothes out, but Monster can and does. My kids are capable of doing pretty much everything now between the two of them.
Part of teaching them do to things on their own is also teaching them accountability. I can't tell you the number of times I pick my daughter up from school and hear her classmates say, "My mom didn't pack me a snack" or "My mom forgot my water bottle". No children, you are all old enough to get your own damn stuff ready for school. My kids may still sometimes slip up and say "Mom didn't" whatever, but we immediately put it back on them. For camp this summer, Sunshine forgot a water bottle one day. She didn't come home saying, "You forgot to pack me one", she came home saying, "I forgot a water bottle today". Know what she did the next day? She made sure she had a water bottle. Last night, we had a softball game. Sunshine's jersey was dirty. She knew it was because she didn't take her laundry downstairs, not because Mommy didn't do the laundry. Too often I hear mom's apologizing to their kids when their kids blame them for stuff they should have taken responsibility for. "You packed a snack I didn't like." "Oh, I'm so sorry. What would you like instead?". If you don't like the snack, pack it yourself. They need to learn they are perfectly capable of taking care of those kind of needs.
The biggest problem I have is that my kids don't see the mess. They honestly don't. Trash is overflowing and they just put more in, causing it to fall out into the cabinet. Their hampers smell so badly that their entire rooms stink. They put things in the middle of the floor, seriously, like dead center where we walk, and this includes their expensive phones that can be destroyed if stepped on. Dry dishes sit in the dish rack and no one puts them away. Dirty dishes sit on the counter, next to the dishwasher. Recycling sits on the counter waiting to go the 5 steps to the garage. Toothpaste globs build up in the sinks. When I specifically point all this out, they will get to work, but they won't touch it until I ask. I refuse to do all of the work, but sometimes, it's more frustrating to keep asking them to do these things than it is to just do it all myself. I feel as though this may be the problem most parents have and that's why a lot of kids can't do anything of their own. It is frustrating when you need to always be the one saying, "Do this, do that". It's just easier to do it yourself. In our house, Husband and I have been making a real effort to point out all of the things that need done in hopes the kids start to "see" it. Both kids have their strong points and both have their helpful and not helpful moments. The main thing I must remember is that, even if they don't "see" it now, they know how to do pretty much everything. As soon as Sunshine gets tall enough, she's going to start lawn mowing (because don't get me started on my rant of how so many grown women can't mow their lawns, my mom included). As soon as I'm confident my children can sort clothes to my exact specifications, which they may never learn because, after 24 years, Husband still can't do it right, and if they ruin their own clothes it's not as bad as them ruining mine, they will wash clothes.
Even though it seems impossible and they may do not it how you would, you have to let kids do things on their own. If you don't, you'll be raising adults who don't know how to mow a lawn and blaming other people for everything that goes wrong in their lives.