401 Ways to get Your Children to Work at Home
I strongly recommend this book. I bought it when Zoe was three, and it gives step by step suggestions for all the tasks a child should have mastered between the age of 2 and 18–age-appropriate suggestions for what a child could do to help out in the kitchen, with the laundry, with cleaning, shopping, in the garden, mending, phone-calls re. hair-cuts, taking a bus, managing money etc.
On each of Zoe’s birthdays, we would look at what she should be able to do in terms of ironing, mending, cooking, vacuuming etc. At 15, she can cook and serve a 3 course meal to guests, (and has been able to for many years) handle her own laundry, clean if necessary (though we do have a cleaner) mend her own clothes, and do most domestic tasks. She will be supremely able to run her own little house when she is 18.
Irene has not been as enthusiastic about learning these age-appropriate tasks, but can do most things on the 11 year old list.
I would highly recommend this book so that when kids leave home, they have all the survival skills they need. I grew up in a home with a live in cook, live in maid, and live in gardener, and got married without the faintest idea of how to cook or clean, and just a faint idea of how to do laundry. Domesticity has been an uphill battle for me–but not for the generation I have brought into the world–if I have anything to say about it!
Having everyone pitch in leads to more family time, more family fun, a less frazzled mum, and more confident, less intense, and better-rounded children!