Friday, January 4, 2013


I don't remember exactly when my parents introduced my younger sister and me to the concept of chores. There were daily chores - make your bed, put away your toys, feed the pets (a parakeet and a turtle), hang up your clothes, set the table at meals, help wash and dry the dishes. And then there were the weekly chores we 'helped' our older sisters with - dusting, vaccuuming, sweeping and mopping and washing floors, straightening up stacks of magazines after whoever was dusting had whipped by, cleaning the parakeet's cage, straightening up the basement playroom, cleaning the bathrooms. The older we grew, the more chores we took on - mowing the yards, helping shovel the walks during winter, raking leaves, doing the laundry, weeding the flower garden, picking up fallen apples.

Sometimes my sister and I complained while we worked, other times we just did our chores without thinking too much about it. But I was aware that we were fairly lucky - we didn't have even half the chores characters in the books I read did. We lived in the suburbs in the twentieth century, so we didn't have to feed chickens and collect their eggs, chop wood to heat our house or cook our food, sew our clothes, plant, weed and harvest gardens, milk cows, or take care of livestock. Cleaning the bathrooms was fairly easy compared to cleaning out a stable. The children's and YA books set in near present day had characters doing almost the same chores I had, so it was nice to be able to do the comparison. It made the dusting and vaccuuming easier when I knew that Trixie Belden had to do it in her home as well.

And then at some point an allowance began to be applied to the weekly chores, and that made doing them a lot easier. My sister and I approached the idea of money quite differently.My sister would make a great deal of spreading out all of her allowance on the bed and counting it all several times before putting it carefully into her piggybank. I would put my money in my piggybank, too, up until the time when my cousin introduced me to comic books, and I found another use for my allowance.

What do you remember about your chores as a child? Have the books you read mention similar ones? Did you have to do chores to get an allowance?


  1. Love it! I wrote in some chores for my character and my critique group cringed. Yea, real kids do chores! And real heroes in our stories demonstrate how to deal with those chores, complete with all the mixed up choices and consequences they can face.

  2. I did few chores as a child but it is an interesting thing to consider for my characters or their backgrounds. Thanks for the idea.

  3. It's been too long since I was a kid and I don't remember any specific chores. It may be I had none, or few. Interesting memories. Thinking about them.

  4. Interesting post; I don't remember much about kids' chores in the YA books I've read, so I'll have to be more aware of that feature in the future. From the age of 8 on (when my father remarried and I acquired stepsisters) I and my sisters did basically all the "cleaning" part of the housework. Mamma, who had a full-time job (in the late 1950s!), did the laundry and dishes, although not many years passed before she gave the dinner dishes to us also. Daddy cooked a lot of weekday dinners, if I remember correctly. The cleaning, divided among the three of us, took at least half of every Saturday. Really, I was a more thorough housekeeper (under duress) as a preteen and teenager than I am now. Needless to say, I thought of myself as a downtrodden Cinderella. While I think it's a good thing that we learned to do those jobs, I still believe (at age 64) that she expected too much of us for our age and was much too harsh in her perfectionism.