Should kids do the washing up?
Should your children do the washing up? And would you pay them to do it?
At Mayhem Corner there are often dirty saucepans and dishes piled up waiting for a heroic washing up volunteer. Although I think families should share this task, or the cook shouldn’t have to do the plates too, there are some practical problems about getting the dishes done in a house of just two adults and two kids.
The washing up is such a pain if you homecook
Lola, 13, is tall enough and dextrous enough, and generous enough to wash up. But it’s rare I ask her. Now, if we had a washing -up machine the children would certainly be asked to alternate its loading and unloading. But as we don’t, the 20 minute plus job of washing up starts to take on a rather epic work load for a child. Nell, 10, would have to stand on a chair to do it (actually I’m sure she’d love this). And for both it would cut into their homework, music practice (respectively three and two instruments) and general downtime which enables them to read, play, look after the various pets and – vitally -choose to do things that they haven’t been told to do.
I’m a soft touch: I feel most kids are at school, indoors, for too many hours in the day anyway, so how can I add to this by chaining them to the kitchen sink? It’s the same with cooking. That takes me about an hour a day, and of course it’s a useful skill which should be learnt by a trusted grown-up’s side. But with the burden of homework at secondary school it would be hard for Lola to cook a meal regularly for the family – although she should be able to manage this during holidays and half-term.
Recently other mums told me their Year 7 and Year 8 daughters (approx 11-12) were great at making jam tarts with foraged blackberries, sponge and fairy cakes. And my Nell who is in Year 6 (of primary school) is cooking her way through a recipe book from the Lime Lounge cafe, a fabulous place we enjoyed during our Solomon Islands summer trip (see pic for Nell’s latest experiment with triple choc chip cookies). But all children need more than show-off baking skills…
Simple skills for a junior cook – peeling potatoes, operating the timer, all egg dishes (boiling, poaching, scrambling etc), pastry making, shopping for ingredients, looking in the fridge/larder and working out what can be cooked without having to go to the shops.
Simple dishes a 9-year-old + ought to be able to create (perhaps with help over cutting, when the oven is used or boiling water is involved) – roasting veg/meat/fish; baked potatoes; all egg dishes; toast with a topping; other bread meals (pizza, bruschetta); dips like guacamole, tziki/raita; puddings (eg, cakes/crumble/ anything with apples).
If children don’t learn when they are young it’s very hard for them when they leave home, go to university or set up their own families. Even now I’m convinced my partner is not very adept at cooking because he never had to do it when he was a child – the kitchen was mum’s job then. But as my girls go through secondary school with an increasing pile of nightly homework, now we’re back at the time constrictions!
Do you have any ideas how to teach or tempt your kids into the kitchen to do useful cooking and washing-up tasks other than just bake teatime treats?And would you pay them to do this? I feel helping should always be a voluntary choice (albeit a 3-line one that has to be done!), so refuse to pay cash for household chores. But I know lots of parents who do, and of course it could be seen as quite a good way to offer pocket money…