What to Expect

When I was pregnant with my first-born, I read the book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” week by week.  I knew each detail of what part of baby was developing and all the reasons for the symptoms I had.  Now that that baby is 7 years old, I really could use a book entitled, “What to Expect of That Child You Had Expected”.

I, along with Farmer Joe, have been giving a lot of thought lately as to what we should expect from our children.  What can a five-year-old and seven-year-old bring to the table?  (And while we’re at it, to what extent can we forgive a two-year-old for pulling everything back off of that table?)

Is it enough for a child to get good grades in school?  Then, are they exempt from doing chores around the house?  Some moms and I kicked this question around the table at a discussion on parenting recently.  The resounding answer was “no”.  Nobody thought that was enough.  We definitely want our children to know how to do laundry, cook, scrub floors, balance a checkbook, etc, when they graduate from high school.  What do we need to do to achieve all these things?  It is definitely another item that parents have to juggle.

I have been failing my son in this area.  He comes home from school, does his homework, practices piano on a good day, and that is it.  On most Saturdays, Joe does a great job of putting him to work so I do feel good about that.  However, I know that my son could do a ton more than he does.  He CAN unload the dishwasher but he might drop the plates, knives could cut him, and I may never find my potato peeler again.  Also, it is a morning task and he does it loudly enough to wake up the neighbors (which is extra-impressive when you consider we live in the country).  He can pick up books, but doesn’t put them in the order that I do.  I cringe to see him sweep the floor because Cheerios are being swept under the stove and only half of what does get swept up makes it from the dustpan into the garbage.

I need to lower my standards about HOW things are done and raise my standards about HOW MUCH is done.  I definitely admit that.  


Can’t you just see the pride?

I have one small success story.  Last year, on the first day of summer break, I had Vince and Liv each pick out a day-old calf to call their own.  The kids were in charge of bottle-feeding them milk twice a day and cleaning their pen.  They took a ton of pride in their work and any visitor to our farm HAD to go see them.  We are definitely doing that again this year.


Vince training her to lead at the fair.

Yet, that is just one small thing and I need to expect more.  I would love to hear your real-life experience.  What do you think we can expect from our kids?  If you have older kids and could go back and do it again, what would you do differently?  Do you remember what was expected of you when you were growing up?  I would appreciate any advice.



11 thoughts on “What to Expect

  1. Rita, I love your comments and outlook on life in general, very refreshing. I don’t think a few age appropriate chores or duties is out of line. We struggle with that in our household and having an only child who is 10 years old now. he seems to have it ‘easy’ as his friends say. Living in town is much different and the types of duties to be completed are also quite different. But as a parent you wish for your children to be self sufficient when they are ready to be out on their own. Right now we have him putting away clean clothes, doing some dishes, emptying the dishwasher, helping with some yardwork, picking up some messes he and the friends make daily. He does run to get some things in other parts of the house too. But I know some classmates in town that are responsible for a lot more- like daily vacuuming, washing and putting away all the dishes, some wash their own clothes, etc. It will be interesting to see what comes up here. then the question comes into play is do we reward them or is it just part of being a kid and growing up and a family duty to help out, another blog topic??


    • Thanks for you comment, Terri! I agree there is a dilemma regarding rewards vs. plain expectations. I also want to note here that my sister-in-law called me to say she thought the title implied I was pregnant and NO, NO, NO, that isn’t true. After a few minutes of conversation, I told her I had better get back on task since the girls are on a dad date selling cows. When I told her I was going to sort through the toy room, she reprimanded me…that is work for my children. So now I am eating bonbons and watching soaps. Okay, that last part is a lie.


  2. I know I am too slack on the kids when it comes to things around the house. I don’t like to clean but do pick up when needed. Right now my kids are 11,8,5 and don’t do much to help out. Every now and then they unload the dishwasher. Codie does laundry. Everyone cooks and bakes. Codie does have chores outside but that is farm life. I know they could do more but jot sure how to get there. I hate fights with my kids.


  3. Rita, the problem is, you have more experience in parenting than I do. So, you might have many more ideas/experience about this than I do. This is what is expected of Alex, who is a year younger than Liv. Clean his room – but I put away the clothes (otherwise I would not know where the clothes are to dress him!), make his bed the best he can, clean up toys, take the recycling to the garage, sometimes help set the table, sometimes help vacuum, sometimes sweep the floor, clean up toys outside when done playing, a few times he’s helped with the loading/unloading the dishwasher, put clothes in the hamper, and dress himself as much as possible and also shower himself. He also needs to hang up his coat and backpack when he gets home and put his shoes on the rug. He also needs to be able to put his farm clothes and boots away. He needs to get eggs, milk, etc. from the spare fridge in the basement. He is also HIGHLY encouraged to help me cook and bake – he usually does the stirring, use the mixer, etc. Lately, I’ve been having him put the groceries away at his level. At his old daycare he had to take his plate to the sink. At our house, he does not. We eat at the counter at stools. At the new daycare, he needs to pick up toys. Sometimes not everything gets done or I have to remind him, but at least he’s heading in the right direction, I think. Alex broke something at my house and his grandma’s house and is now expected to help with spring cleaing projects and also spring farm projects to earn extra money to pay for them. He knew better, but broke them anyway. Now that he is FINALLY fully toilet trained, he gets back – chocolate milk at school, he can have sleepovers at other people’s houses, he can go to the video store to get free movies, he can have his tractor toys back, he can have his Curious George Movie back, he can go to the library, he got back his own movies, and he can do other fun things. Something new I started was to make him a list of what he needs to do to get ready for school/daycare in the morning without me continually nagging him to get himself ready. But, the list is not in words, it’s in pictures listed in order of what he needs to do – a photo of a toothbrush, a photo of shoes, a photo of washing hands, a photo of breakfast food, etc. That’s what’s up at our house with Alex. I hope for the same things you do – be able to take care of himself when he graduates. I don’t want to do his laundry when he is 30! And, I have told him that his future wife will be upset with both him and me if he is not able to take care of himself, his wife, his family and his home. So, he can start learning now! With no whining! Thanks. Good Luck! Michele


  4. This is a story I tell over and over again. I do not garden because my mom would always follow along behind and pick the bean row I had just picked. (Why should I do it if she was going to do it anyway). Whatever you ask your kids to do you have to be satisfied with the way they do it (the same goes for husbands:). If you do redo it NEVER let them see you do it. Sometimes I ask the question “do you think it would look better if we did it like this?” If they say no I drop it. Granted if they are washing dishes it needs to be clean for health reasons, but you don’t have to be able to see your reflection. We always had a list growing up and I think being able to cross things off is pretty satisfying, but then you know when you are at the end.


  5. Jared and I have been telling stories of what was expected of us when we were growing up on our farms. Even though we are raising “city kids” we have been trying to encourage the boys to develop a good work ethic and pride in the tasks that they are given. Jared has been especially busy in his office job on top of the flying he has been doing so I have been relying on the boys for more then what they were originally use to. For the most part they have been really good about taking responsibility for their belongings, thankfully we are a family of routine and even with moving every couple of years we have structured the home in similar ways so that picking up and putting away has become habit. (Now if only the hubby would!) I have added more chores as the boys have aged, now 10, 8, and 4. Once homework is done they are responsible for unloading the dishwasher, feeding the cat and dog, helping with laundry, and also helping each other with tasks as needed. Does that mean that I never touch a stitch of clothing or never have to unload the dishwasher, no, but they know that if momma ain’t happy…well you know the rest 😉 Days where they have other activities after school they may not have time to do all their chores, homework is the priority and since school is their “job” I do let them have down time where they can choose their own activity. Life has to be flexible…except for bedtime on school nights in this house. They are rewarded with an allowance, trips out to their favorite spots, and special days at home which helps to keep them motivated. I am sure that you are raising 3 wonderful kids, and are also teaching them by example which is also a very important way for the kids to learn that hard work has its rewards.


    • Mindy,
      I definitely agree that there has to be a give-and-take when there are activities at night. Kids need some down-time and parents need to make sure they have some activities but not too many. The chores you are assigning are definitely good ones. I really concur with all the things you said, especially about the hubby:)


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