Rose Esther Ebyeu, a banker and a mother of two, says she took long to realise that her children had no clue on how to do basic house work because she had two house helps who did everything. So, whenever she got back home, there was nothing to complain about.
“One day my relatives complained about how my children were lazy, bossy and irresponsible because even when they ate or drunk anything from the dining or living room, they never bothered to put away the utensils they had used but waited for the house helps to take them away. That was not right,” Ebyeu recounts.
This did not sit well with her. She decided to dedicate sometime to study her children and find ways she could improve their weak points which was a little easier since they were grown.
Visit their peers
Ebyeu says she started by imparting the aspect of responsibility in them by ensuring they stayed in a clean environment where they had to always clean up the place they ate from, make sure that before they sat to watch TV, the living room was mopped, the chairs were well arranged and dusted.
“At first, this did not go well with them because they felt I was harsh with them. I resorted to making them visit their cousins who changed their perception towards work. Instead of complaining, they would strive to give a hand and wanted to be like their peers and even better,” she explains.
She adds that with time they kept advancing to doing other harder tasks and now she even does not need to supervise them, they do work hand in hand with the house helps because they know it is an everyday obligation.
No gender discrimination
Richard Katende, a father of two says he does not believe in the mentality that there are some chores cut out for boys while there are those for girls. “Boys too need to learn how to do everything because one day they will leave home as they transition into responsible adults. What will happen?”
Jessica Amongin, a mother of four, on the other hand, says her sons do everything apart from serving food. She does not want them to get used to looking into saucepans because in her view, it is embarrassing.
Amongin, a mother of three boys and one girl, makes sure they do not exploit their sister.
“I have never hired a house maid. I do chores with my children who I start teaching right from the time they start understanding,” she explains, adding, “My eldest son started by cleaning his mess. Whenever he urinated on the floor, I would send him for the mop which he brought and I told him to clean the floor. All I could do was help him mop better to ensure that the floor was dry.”
This, she says, made him know that he had to clean the place whenever he dirtied it. With time he would do it even without being instructed. Not only with his but even when a visitor came with a child and they happened to urinate, my boy would clean the place.
Mercellino Kangaho, a father, advises parents not to rush anything while teaching children housework because the child’s ability to handle any kind of work comes with age. Rushing may make the child reckless while doing the chores due to failure to master the art of doing one that they were not given enough time to learn. “Teach with compassion if the child is to learn to love doing housework because being harsh or strict will make the child think that house work is some form of punishment.”
Mary G.A Asiimwe Butamanya, a counsellor at Uganda Counseling Association, says before a child is introduced to chores, the parents need to talk to them, let them know why it is good to do chores so that the child starts out with a positive attitude.
“Never use housework as a form of punishment because you will change the child’s thinking towards housework since he or she will perceive it as that each time they are told to do something,” says Butamanya. Always notice the parts of the chore they did well, and compliment them on the task. If they ask, give them a few helpful pointers, to make it even better next time.
Gauge their ability before assigning them.
For instance, at five years, you can make the child wash his or her underwear and socks under your supervision but most importantly appreciate the child’s effort and do some more cleaning.
Give children chores that are challenging; taking away difficult tasks makes chores even more boring.
If they are already used to helping clean the kennel, make it harder by having them clean it by themselves. Then, challenge them to clean it faster. Or, instead of having them weed the compound, give them a shovel or a wheelbarrow and let them do the harder work of planting flowers or collecting soil.
Butamanya says laying off the workers is not an alternative because it will make the children think that they can only work if workers are not around. “Keep the workers around and also get the children to participate to make them know that housework is a communal activity.”
She also says that children should be introduced to different kinds of work gradually and this you can do by slowly adding the work load as long as you realise that the child can handle more than what they were doing initially.