Sunday, June 30, 2013

Memory Monday: Childhood Chores

Foreword:  No new pictures today (running out of data for the month according to Verizon, grrr), but I wanted to participate in Sandy's Memory Monday!  Next week for sure I'll have some pictures to share.  (Although, this is a really old ironing board...circa 1970, maybe that counts - LOL).

We spent last week at our youngest's place and she asked me to show her how to iron her dress shirts/blouses.  She was frustrated with re-wrinkling them as she ironed them.  Now, not everyday do your kids ask you to teach them how to iron!  How many times has THAT happened in the history of man?!?  So, I showed her, then made her do the next one.  Two shirts and she was done.  We'll see if she remembers for the next time.

Ironing:  My mother took in ironing during WWI while Dad was in France.  She taught my sisters, and my sister taught me when I was seven -- yes, I said 7, Kids.  At first I was limited to handkerchiefs and pillow cases, but within the year I was doing my brother-in-law's uniform slacks, too. I have a lovely scar on my midriff from accidentally bringing the iron toward me and touching my bare belly.  Pain is a terrific learning tool.  Never did that again :)

Does anyone remember those days before Permanent Press?  And air conditioning?  Yeah, it made a big difference in the ironing ritual.  In our household, every Thursday we would spread all the items on the kitchen table and sprinkle everything with an old pop bottle filled with water and a sprinkling do-dad on the top.  Then we'd roll everything up and place the rolls of ironing in the fridge.  Friday night, we would do the ironing.  Why Friday? Because for one, Fridays were my days to take a bath and wash my hair (one bathroom, 8 kids, we all took turns--full bathing twice a week whether we needed it or not).  After sweating in the evening while ironing in the summertime, I then got to take a nice refreshing bath before going to bed.  The 2nd reason was because I could stay up later, so I could wait until the house cooled down before heating up the iron in the summer.  I got to stay up until 9:30-10:00 on Fridays.  Huzzah :) 

Chores:  In addition to ironing, I had to do the dishes every night...wash AND dry.... and run the dust mop every week throughout the whole house.  Made my bed every morning, and dusted my own room weekly, then go outside and dig dandelions out of the grass.  In the winter time, I had to shovel the snow from the front walk.

Child-rearing:  Now, did MY kids have to do this many chores? daughter didn't know how to iron because she never did any ironing while living at home.  Why is this?  Mostly, because she wore t-shirts and jeans, and the abundance of permanent press items.  I was pondering this and think its basically because child-rearing in general has changed so much since I was a child.  I was raised by a couple who believed children should be seen and not heard, so whenever I expressed myself, it was pretty much beaten out of me.  (I was raised by my sister during this time period, not my parents, I might add).  As a consequence, soon I did whatever was required of me without objection.  When I had a family, I did NOT raise my kids the same way.  They always had an option of voicing their viewpoints....quite often it wasn't successful, but they got the chance to argue their cause.  Secondly, there were fewer people in house while my kids were growing up and Lee and I had more time to do the routine chores and didn't need the children to help out so much.   But most importantly, my sister and I had VERY different personalities and pressures on us through our child-rearing years.

In retrospect,  I wish I had been more insistent upon making the kids do more chores without any arguments.  I think they'd be a little better prepared for life on their own, but what I didn't get to teach them while they were with me, they can pick up on their own....things like cooking and ironing.  I did teach them how to think for themselves, how to weigh their options, how to ask for help, how to stand up for themselves, how to save for their future, and how to be kind.  I also made them learn how to change a flat tire, too, which involved many grunts of unhappiness.  So, I guess I did okay in the long run, afterall. 


  1. Got the linky up, a bit later then intended. I need to figure out if I can post it ahead and schedule it, like we can actual posts, not sure about that. LOVE your post. And yes the old ironing board picture surely works. I think parents today make a big mistake in not teaching kids how to cook, iron, make their beds etc. Just because life is easier and we can do for them doesn't mean we should. I well remember doing the ironing, the sprinkling; but generally we spinkled a few pieces and ironed those and then sprinkled more. The fridge was small, there really wasn't room in their for the laundry. So, if you only sprinkled a few and rolled them and left them on the counter in the kitchen they didn't have time to dry out. Always seemed strange...all the work it took to get things dry, and them we made them wet again. lol We didn't iron on designated days, generally ironed multiple times a week as the laundry was done. I think I was about 8 or so when I learned to iron, like you pillow cases and sheets, handkerchiefs were first. Shorts and my brothers pants, last to learn were my Dad's work pants and shirts. Remember those pant hanger things?

    Don't forget to link back and come add yourself to the linky thingy.

    A Walk Through the Old Neighborhood

  2. I well remember sprinkling, rolling and refrigerating the ironing. I, too, have a burn mark on my tummy from the hanky-ironing days. I was probably 7ish, too. Everything had to be ironed. It was a chore, right along with baby-sitting, starting dinner, cleaning the whole house on Thursdays and Fridays. I was the oldest. Patti & Tammy never had to work like I did, and they freely admit it.

  3. It sounds like you did just fine with your kids. Many things changed since we were their age. I remembering ironing the hankies, too, and it seems I remember a story about my brother ironing his abdomen. He also ran his arm through the wringer washer. Enjoyed reading your memories, and remembered many of the same things.

  4. I remember chores like this when I was being raised in the 1950;s abd 1960's. I taught my kids how to do chores. My youngest son is a cop and he still irons his uniforms!

  5. a teacher and mom at my boys' school was sending her son to college...and he didn't even know how to wash a load of clothes. I think to NOT have your kids prepared for life is a HUGE disservice to them (and their future spouse!)

    My boys look at their laundry list of chores compared to their friends and I let them know they'll never be divorced for not doing their part! LOL

  6. Thanks for your terrific comments, everyone! Terri, it seems parents always ease up on the younger theory (based on my experience) is that weariness of the struggle sets in ;) Pattisjarrett, you're so sweet. I can't imagine getting my arm through a mom told me she did this as a child and broke her arm. Hope he was injured severely...ouch. Paula, sounds like you raised him right. April, sounds like your raising yours right, too, good for you!
    I knew how to do many things when I got married, but I didn't know how to cook....not that Mom didn't try, I just refused to learn. Luckily, I got a good cookbook as a wedding gift ;)


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