Childhood Jobs and Chores

“A kid will run any errand for you if you ask it at bedtime.” Red Skelton, US comedian.


Childhood Jobs and Chores

“A kid will run any errand for you if you ask it at bedtime.” Red Skelton, US comedian.

As a wee girl, there was nothing I loved more than ‘helping’ Nan with the usual farm chores – mixing up the bran mash to feed to the chooks and turkeys each morning; feeling around in the warm nests for fresh eggs, filling large beer bottles with warm milk to feed to any calves who needed to be fed by hand, their tiny tails wriggling with pleasure as they sucked the big rubber teat. Nan seemed to be able to judge each child’s ability, level of responsibility and then allotted the chores accordingly.

By the time I turned 8, I had spent 4 ½ years in boarding school and was pleased to finally live at home with Mum and my younger sister. Mum drew up a list of chores for me which had to be completed before she arrived home from work:

·       Clean school shoes – both mine and Janet’s;

·       Peel vegetables for dinner and have them in the pans, ready for when Mum arrived home at 6pm;

·       Sweep kitchen floor and put away drained plates from breakfast;

·       Wash out lunch boxes ready for tomorrow’s school lunches, which I prepared after dinner;

·       Wash, dry and put away dishes after dinner and set the table for breakfast.

Helping Mum with the weekly wash was also a regular chore and, if I’d performed these chores to Mum’s satisfaction, I received a small amount of pocket money each Saturday. I modelled clothes for a local department store from the ages of 10-15 and could select one outfit as payment – my first ‘paid’ job. I also baby sat my swimming coach’s daughter, which helped my pocket money situation and taught me to save some money.

Accepting the responsibility for these and other household chores taught me that it was easier to do the job once and to do it well, and also gave me the practical skills to move out of home and into the Nurse’s Home of the hospital where I commenced my nursing training at 16 years of age.

Take a few minutes to think back to your childhood and remember what happened in your home about household chores:

·       What childhood chores or jobs do you recall?

·       Were the chores circulated around each week, as my Auntie Joan did with her 8 children?

·       What happened if the job wasn’t done properly or totally ignored – were you punished? What happened?

·       Did you receive pocket money for performing your tasks and what could you buy with it?

·        What lessons did you learn from household chores and such childhood jobs as mowing the lawn or delivering newspapers?

·       What skills did you learn that carried over into adult life?

In days past, everyone’s small contribution was considered to be essential and was appreciated, whether it was chopping wood, setting the table or milking the cows. I learned at an early age, that ‘helping’ Nan with her chores earned me a hug, a pat on the head or just a simple ‘Thank you, ’all of which increased my self confidence and willingness to help her again.

Think about the role childhood chores played in your life. How important was the reward and did it affect the way you performed the chore? What life lessons did you learn and have you repeated the process with your own children? Trust me - your grandchildren will be amazed to learn about your weekly household chores!

I was a Tom Boy When I was a Little Girl
Childhood Chores Taught Me Plenty


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