Let’s face it. Boys hate housework. Girls hate housework, too, but they can’t stand seeing a sink full of dirty dishes so they will wash them up eventually. But the thing is, many boys don’t even notice if their socks are lying on the dinner table until they need them. (I know, I know. Some boys are far more organised and neater than girls.)
Yet, one way or another, for their own sake as well as ours, we know we have to get them to do it. When coaxing doesn’t work, help your son to see things in a new perspective. Ironing, for instance, is something that I do not allow the children to do until they have reached a certain height. When he was nine, Siraj would ask, “When can I iron my own school uniform?”
My answer was always the same: “When you are tall enough.”
One morning, his fourteen-year-old brother asked me, “When will Siraj have the privilege of ironing his own clothes?” It wasn’t planned but it so happened that the younger boy was within earshot. Ironing, it seemed, could only be done if you’re tall enough and big enough. For a nine-year-old boy, it’s an honour to be allowed to do things only older boys are allowed to do.
The same principle can be applied to other household chores. Take clothes management, for instance. I used to spend at least half an hour a day to sort and fold clothes from the dryer. When I did not have the time to do it, the clothes pile kept on growing and growing until one fine morning, one of the boys couldn’t find a single underwear in his wardrobe to put on.
I happened to be in the bathroom and his panicked whining brought his father to the unsorted mountain of garments. That night, we gathered all the children in a circle. They joked, laughed and sang as they picked up their stuff. It took less than five minutes and by the end of it, everyone had a good feeling.