Why Not Paying For Chores Is A Better Lesson For Kids

It’s President’s Day weekend – a school break and, of course, a time to celebrate….sales on appliances??? Here’s a reminder for the holiday weekend of our children’s ability to lessen our work, if not our mental load.

A few weeks ago, we got an “E24” alert.

If you know you, you know – and you know it’s bad.

“E24” is the code on a Bosch dishwasher that tells you the drains are clogged. What it really means is you’re going to be washing dishes by hand until you can schedule a service tech to come out and fix it.

Sure, it’s not a bathtub falling through the ceiling, but it’s a change to an end-of-the-day routine – and a teachable moment.

We’re a chore-doing family. One of our household rules is whoever cooks dinner does not clean up. This has allowed us to create a well-established routine – born out of years of trial, error and frustration before my wife and I wised up and realized we had three kids who needed to learn how to do this stuff. (And no, we do not pay them for any of this, a lesson I learned from my friend Ron Lieber who detailed the proper use of allowance in The Opposite of Spoiled.)

But E24 was a glitch of glitches. It’s one thing to clear the table, put the dishes in the dishwasher, wash a few pots and pans, and do a final sponge-sweep.

E24 meant going old school – except that our kids never knew our O.G. cleanup ways, raised on dishwashers and a freezer with an ice maker. This was a new world. I wasn’t sure where it was going to end up. Future college essay material???

One of the things I’m most proud of is what my kids do. I’m happy that they work hard in school and are committed to their activities. I’m pleased that they’re kind and that they’re not screen obsessive. But I beam when I see them problem solve, manage tasks, work together, resolve arguments, and ultimately get things done in their own way.

But E24? To by immense pleasure, it brought a new level of cooperation and delegation. It took longer, for sure. There were arguments. Some dishes were cleaner than others. But they were learning and doing and more than anything, just getting on with it. They were immersed in something adults have to do – and dislike: a repetitive, monotonous, necessary job.

So, when you hear the siren sound of discounted appliances, by all means get the new dishwasher if your old one is on its last legs. But remember there is great value in the occasional E24 crisis.

For you, it’s a reminder: Don’t think you have to do everything. Don’t beat yourself up. Teaching chores is great parenting. It also lessens a burden on you.

For them, it’s many lessons: Get it done. Complaining will prolong a repetitive task; it will not get you out of doing it. When it’s done, you can take pride in having worked together (though you probably won’t see it as such.)

So enjoy the long weekend – and the dishwashing!