The Chicago Tribune published a story that outlined the various ages that children should be able to accomplish tasks around the house. I was astounded that the “child-rearing” experts expected so much from children at such young ages. I have compared their findings with what happens in “Kathy’s World.”


Kathy Posner

EXPERTS: Laundry-The experts said that children should start sorting clothes at 2 years of age and unload a washer or dryer at 3. The handling of detergent and fabric softener should wait until they are 10.

KATHY: Laundry- I did not run a washer or dryer until I was 49 years old. My Mother did my laundry while I was growing up; I lived with someone who had a maid while I was in college and after that I sent it out. When I bought a condo that had a laundry room, my friend Patti taught me how to use the machines. As it is, I only do towels and underwear. Everything else goes to the dry cleaners (including sheets!)

EXPERTS: Iron a shirt- Michelle Dugan the Mom on TLC’s “18 Kids and Counting” has 10 year old twins that iron. “They’re capable of pulling the ironing board out, plugging in the iron and getting a few wrinkles out, “she says. Maybe it’s not a perfect job, but they can do it.

KATHY: Iron a shirt- I have never ironed a shirt. When I got my laundry room, the aforementioned friend Patti came over to teach me to iron. She did not succeed. It was not due to her lack of training skills, it was due to my not wanting to do it! When something gets wrinkled, I send it to the dry cleaners. If I have clean napkins and tablecloths that need ironing, I hire Patti’s daughters to do them for me.

EXPERTS: Clean a toilet- The experts want parents to start children on this task as early as 3 or 4 by giving the child a cloth moistened with alcohol to wipe the outside of the bowl and the floor around it. They also say to hand them a toilet brush at 6 and set them to work.

KATHY: Clean a toilet- I find it appalling to expect a 3 year old to clean a toilet. Some 3 year olds are still in diapers (according to my friend Linda, who while she has no birth children of her own, has many nieces and nephews.) Linda thinks it is “disgusting” to expect a child to clean a toilet. I say, feminism aside, Mothers are the equivalent of their children's maids. Moms should be cleaning toilets, not children. Not Dads, because they will purposely do a poor job so the Mom has to come in and clean again. That is how the world turns. Sorry!

EXPERTS: Make a bed- The experts say that a child of 2 or 3 years old can make a bed. Maybe not perfect, but good enough. The more they practice the better they get.

KATHY: Make a bed- Some children are still sleeping in cribs at the age of 3. How is a two year old supposed to make up a crib? Though I have few “life skills, I happen to love making a bed. I change my sheets three times a week and they cannot have a wrinkle in them or I cannot sleep. I cannot leave my bedroom in the morning if my bed is not perfectly made. It is an emotional thing with me.

EXPERTS: Shut off the water- Not the tap, but at the main valve or the toilet tank. Kevin O’Connor, host of PBS’ “This Old House,” figures 10 is a good age.

KATHY: Shut off the water- I have no clue how to do this. That is why there are plumbers and maintenance men wherever I live.

EXPERTS: Use a screwdriver and power tools-Kevin Connor says age 3 is right for the screwdriver because that is when his child picked one up on his own. Connor says 4 is the right age for screw guns and such.

KATHY: Use a screwdriver and power tool- I would call DCFS if I had a neighbor that was letting their child use a screwdriver at age 3! They could put their eye out! Who would allow a child to use a power tool at age 4? I guess the reason that the episodes of “This Old House” show so much work being accomplished is because they use child labor!

The list of impossible tasks for children goes on and on. We need to let children be young and carefree for as long as possible and not subject them to grown-up tasks. Unless they could get a real job that would bring in some cash! Sophie, pictured in this blog, is obviously on the right track.
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