My kids are old enough to have opinions on our socioeconomic status, and they don’t care that cello lessons and SAT tutors are accoutrements of the upper middle class. They see we live in a very small two-bedroom apartment. I tell them our apartment is nicer than some peoples’ houses. “We have Limoges china! We have crystal chandeliers!”

My son says everyone who comes over says, “Where does your mom sleep?” And he hates having to tell them I sleep in the closet.

I don’t tell him my closet has golden stripes and hearts on the wall and it’s just exactly how I want it. I’ve said it before and he doesn’t care.

Instead I admit the kids feel like we’re poor, and I decide we need chores. Because a very long-term study from Harvard found that poor kids are happier as adults they do chores as kids, and I don’t know if poor is perception or reality in that study but I want to cover my bases.

Trying to teach a life skill I don’t have. My younger son wins a lot of money playing cello, and I am always struggling to get him to save some. He has pointed out that I don’t have savings either. Which is annoying, because that is not part of my lesson.

So I told him his job is to find coupons. He goes to places like and finds coupons for things we weren’t going to buy. And when I say no, he uses his own money to buy the thing on the coupon and then he feels good about his chore.

Underestimating how much the kids will love the chore. My son hurt his shoulder from playing League of Legends too much. He told me he needs a new chair and showed me one that costs $1000. I told him to put a bag of peas on his shoulder to ice it. And stretch every hour. Then I told him he could use the massager that Mynt sent to me.

I tried to think of a lot of things to tell him to do so it’s annoying and he thinks twice about letting his shoulder get hurt when he’s playing video games.

But he loved the massager. And he ate the peas. And asked for more. And it turned out to be not so much a chore day for him but a spa day for him. And a chore day for me.

The wild goose chase as parental respite. At the grocery store I said, “Everyone get a cart and get food you want to eat, and then no one will tell me there’s nothing to eat.” (This is a good example of how parents pretend to say commands which are actually prayers.)

I tell the kids if they ask me for soda one more time I will kill them. They tell me they will call child protective services. They think this is funny after our visit from CPS for doing our homeschool paper work incorrectly. (Note: the person from CPS said she likes my decorating.)

At home I tell them I read about craft cola. They don’t appear to care, so I tell them it counts as part of the grocery shopping chore.

They read. And I don’t even care that they’re not putting groceries away. I’m just happy to have some quiet.

Delegating that which is easier to do myself. Why am I am always running errands? The kids are old enough. So I sent them to the post office multiple times. Each time the postal clerk asked the kids insane questions (did you seal that envelope yourself?) and would not mail the letters.

So instead of learning how to run errands, the kids learned how to evaluate alternative business models to the post office. They settled on Neopost. It’s for small businesses, so it doesn’t fit our needs. But maybe now the kids will appreciate that I get paid to know how to register a company and launch a startup. Wait. Just kidding. The only thing kids appreciate is when they don’t have to do chores.



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9 replies
  1. Jessica from Down Under
    Jessica from Down Under says:

    Who does regular chores in your apartment like washing dishes, putting the dishes away, laundry, vacuuming, mopping, putting the rubbish out, feeding the dog etc? Wouldn’t it be these kinds of jobs that would help poor kids feel happier as adults because contributing to the hard slog of running a household would be what would raise a kid’s self esteem and happiness in the long run? I feel good that I can run my household quite efficiently as an adult, but I feel let down that my mum never taught me how to iron or sew (even though she was good at both things).

    • Anna
      Anna says:

      When I was growing up, cooking meat and driving were two things that were cordoned off (in a totally unspoken way) as what the parent does, while homework was what was my thing. Now I’m 40 and just learning how to cook with meat. I see high schoolers making complex meat items and I’m shocked! I still don’t have a license. It’s just weird how these are things that anyone can do. You don’t have to be 30+ to do them. It turns out they were not a function of age at all, but a function of function. I am an INTP, so I never crossed the bridge on my own to doing these kinds of hands-on, practical things that the adults were always doing. I’m learning to cook with meat and going much further than mom ever did. However, given my high degree of N (always score 100% with no S), driving might not be a good idea for me because it causes immense strain to always be aware of physical surroundings. I’d be thinking things through when God forbid, a car would zap me. And if I succeeded at driving well with other cars on the road, I think I’d be drained.

  2. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    These failures in homeschooling curriculum development are the ones you and your sons will learn the most and remember. Not the homeschool paperwork that was done incorrectly.
    Teenagers have just enough perception and knowledge to be dangerous to themselves and others. Unruly too. A neighbor told me something my Mom said about teenagers and it went something like this – ‘put them in the ground at 13 and dig them up at 19’. I am the oldest of four. So I think to myself – were we really that bad? Probably. It sure didn’t seem like that though. Actually, I thought it was cruel and harsh when us kids would go on a car ride or picnic and my Dad would bring only water to drink. And we would complain and say we wanted soda or something other than water. And he would say – ‘If you’re thirsty, you’ll drink water’. The good old days. My siblings and I still talk about them.

  3. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    Why does your kid even need to say it’s a closet? He can just say “she sleeps in that room over there.” It IS a room now.

    If telling people his mom sleeps in a closet bothers him so much, maybe let him know he can always sleep in the closet instead, and you can have his room. :)

    • May
      May says:

      Why not just call it a microroom or a tinyroom so you can be on trend with tinyhouses lol.
      Anyway, I think the room looks cool! Maybe it’s a childhood snetimentalism thing or an autism spectrum thing, but being abel to huddle away in a little bubble or safe hole has such an appeal to it.

      Shouldn’t ESFP learning to budget/save be his chore? Have him learn to open a bank account or something and deposit half of any of his earnings or bonus money, then keep track of it weekly liek chequebook balancing. While INTJ should probably try to be writing social communique or something (do INTJ write garbage tier emails and comments? please help him lol). Things you know they will have to learn to do themselves but would otherwise be unskilled in unless you force them to practice it.

      • Anna
        Anna says:

        Oh, yes. I think it is extremely beautiful. When I saw the post, not knowing at all what the photo even was, I thought, “what a lovely space,” and was drawn in even more. :) The photo even forms a pleasing abstract image.

        Now that I know what it is, it strikes me that this is the space of a mom being very gracious by giving up a full room for her family and making a sweet space anyway with something else. Most moms wouldn’t sacrifice like that but would take one of the bedrooms. I really like it.

  4. Virginia
    Virginia says:

    I like the way your room is decorated too. The gold stripes on the walls is a great idea. Did you come up with that yourself?

  5. Bostonian
    Bostonian says:

    Maybe the chore correlation is similar to the books correlation.

    Levitt and Dubner, rooting through the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, found no correlation between higher test scores and parents reading to their children every day. Surprise! They did find a correlation between the parents owning a lot of books and higher test scores.

    Who you are matters more than what you do. Rushing out and getting a reading list of teacher-approved books ready in an otherwise bookless house isn’t really going to make much of a difference to your kids – it’s faking something that isn’t already there. If, however, you are the sort of person who reads all the time, it’s likely you are highly educated and value education, and your children will too. (And of course you’ll read to your kids too, because kids love that).

    So maybe if you belong to the kind of organized, helpful family where everybody pitches in in turns to get things done your children will benefit from it long-term, but if you try to fake being that kind of family you’re probably going to fail at it. Children have a pretty good sense for fakery.

    I didn’t grow up in a chore-sheet family, and neither do my kids. We help where we want, we pay where we need to. My mother always told me that me mowing the lawn was useless because she needed the exercise more and anybody can do that. She’d rather I learned to do laundry and cook, because those are more useful skills. It’s half my day now!

    I watch out for the things my son is good at and likes to do (typically those things come together), and that sometimes becomes his job. For example, he supervises his sister’s piano practice, because he’s way better at it than I am.

    If I tried to put up a rota, it would be hell around here. But kids do want to learn how to do things, and if we don’t harass them too much in the process they might keep doing them.

  6. Jenn
    Jenn says:

    All the apartments in Swarthmore are tiny and cut up weird. Low ceilings, odd shaped drafty windows, bathrooms that have access only thru a bedroom…Dr Suess books make more sense than the layout of those places…

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