I dumped out the laundry basket into the middle of the playroom. The LEGO had been pushed aside, it was time to fold towels. And Charlie dove into his task, giving lessons along the way.
“Corner to corner and make a rectangle,” he instructed me. “Corner to corner, make a square. Don’t fold it again though, Daddy, because it won’t fit in the drawer.”
I need Charlie’s help doing laundry, because I’m wrong at folding laundry. Notice I didn’t say terrible. I grew up doing my own laundry, I did my own laundry from teens until I moved out – because my mom was wrong at it. She didn’t fold the clothes the way I liked and now, apparently, I don’t fold the clothes the way my wife likes. I’m not bad at it, I’m wrong at it. So that’s where Charlie comes in. Laundry is his thing.
Zacharie’s chores are a little more involved. He is tasked with unloading the dishwasher every morning and then he has to sweep up the floor after dinner. Which is why he was so excited – I mean Christmas morning excited – when the big green Swiffer Wet Jet box arrived this week.
“It just makes it so much easier, daddy” he explained as he flipped through the box of gear with a huge grin like it was a new LEGO set.
Later, a Swiffer commercial came on during Dancing With The Stars. “Daddy! It’s Swiffer, like my box!,” he exclaimed. “Do you know that if you had one arm you could still use a Swiffer to clean the lights on the ceiling?,” he immediately followed, retelling the story of a previous Swiffer commercial.
It’s easy to inspire your kids to do chores – just involve them. Have both parents do the work. Treat parenting like the team sport that it is.
My kids do chores because I do chores. I’ve taken the boys with me to do the groceries since they were old enough to sit up in the front of the buggy. They like it. They think men being involved around the house is a complete natural. There is no gender divide when it comes to helping out around the house, we all do it. This is a good thing.
The involved dad is taking a starring role in advertising too. Which is so important for changing the media message about involved parenting. A couple of dad pals of mine are starring in the new #SwifferDad campaign. Check out Doyin from Daddy Doin Work, Beau from Lunchbox Dad, Mike from Playground Dad, and Patrick from Getting Rad with Dad showing how dads are are role models for clean.
Dads today are pitching in with chores nearly 2x more than their dads did growing up. Half of dads today say they do the majority of the cleaning in their home. Ninety-eight percent of dads agree that having a clean home makes them happy. And there’s this new thing called “ChorePlay” as we learned about at Dad 2.0. Men who help around the house are more attractive to their mates. Good for the kids. Good for the goose. Definitely good for the gander.
Dr. Michael Kimmel gave the opening keynote at Dad 2.0 asking the question “Are Dads Men?” He traced old perceptions of masculinity. He spoke of privilege and of what it used to mean to be a man.
The old school, Marlboro Man-era rules of masculinity demanded no sissy stuff, bringing home the paycheque, being sturdy in crisis, and giving them hell when times got tough.
But that is no longer real life. “Its a false ideology that will not adequately prepare you to be the fathers and partners you want to be,” Kimmel argued. “This is not Mars or Venus. This is planet Earth, where women and men are both parents.”
Kimmel finished by declaring the next generation of fathers, (millennials), already take for granted they will be involved dads. They assume it. They expect it.
I see it in my kids already. They support each other, they support their friends, and they’re not bound by “traditional gender roles.” They want to help. They want to fold laundry. They want to cook meals. They want to Swiffer the heck out of that floor.