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What makes a home & chore theory

What makes a home & chore theory

What I’m reading
Children of homeowners twice as likely to own homes themselves.

Almost 40% of US homeowners own their homes outright as of 2022—many of them baby boomers who refinanced when rates were low.

The list of brain conditions that have been associated with changes elsewhere in the body is long and growing. Changes in the make-up of the microorganisms resident in the gut, for example, have been linked to disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and motor neuron disease.The brain and body are intertwined.

A thought piece
This is a FANTASTIC piece: how your house makes you miserable. “How do you make your home entirely your own — a reflection of your good taste! — while also making it wholly acceptable to the market-reflected gaze? The only solution is to make the market-inflected taste your taste. And that experience can be incredibly alienating, particularly when you convince yourself that you’re doing a remodel that you’re going to love, spend a ton of time and energy on it, and then look around and think meh.”

When we bought our house a friend of mine said to me, “Yeah, we looked at that house but it needed so many renovations to make it liveable.” WHAT? This house was in perfect condition when we bought it and in the 6 years we’ve lived here we have few problems (the oven died but it was original to the house – 1962!). We did do some cosmetic work to the house such as tear up all of the white carpet and refinish the hardwood underneath. We also installed laminate throughout the basement (again, white carpet) as well as replace the vanity in the main bathroom to a two-sink Ikea one for the kids & replaced the linoleum with tile flooring. Overall though, we only spent about $1500 in those cosmetic changes. Conversely, I think this friend wanted to turn this mid-century bungalow into a modern showpiece which would have required tearing down walls, putting in marble counters etc. We liked it just the way it was.

Sure our cabinets are crappy 80s ones that have been painted white and we unfortunately have popcorn ceilings (which people apparently hate but I am neutral on the subject). I just think that not everything has to look like it’s about to be featured on HGTV. I remember my friends and I all living in a bunch of old, crummy apartments with weirdly angled ceilings and wonky closet doors. All of these places had charm because they were each vastly different from each other. We also used to decorate with a mish-mash of found items interspersed with Ikea furniture and every place was so different from another one.

I guess renovating the condo has put this to the forefront of my mind because a condo is a different beast. A friend of ours had suggested that we just sell it “as is” with all the smoke damage, the yellow paint, shitty cabinets and no appliances. But I think people expect more of a turnkey experience with a condo where a house is more of a place that you would accept some imperfections in exchange for the location, land and bones of the place. The condo cabinets and the counters *do* look dated which is a pain when you are trying to sell. But I am loathe to tear them out and do a full reno because a> it’s wasteful; b> the people who buy it may just tear it all out and reno themselves anyway. I abhor the idea of wasting all that time and money only to have it all tossed into the garbage. So we’ve mostly focused on replacing the damaged bits, did smoke remediation, tossed on a coat of fresh paint and bought new appliances.

I think as well that we view our house as our HOME and not an investment. So we don’t care to be constantly updating it. It’s also why I installed a sit-down tub instead of a roll-in shower. Yes, the tub was very expensive AND it will reduce the value of the home should we put it on the market. But so what? I plan to have my corpse dragged out of here and during my (hopefully long) lifetime I will get a lot of enjoyment out of being able to take a bath whenever I want.

Child labour
We asked the kids if they would like to clean the house on the weekend for the same amount of money we pay the housecleaner. The reason why is because The Eldest had Covid last week and so we told the cleaner not to come (clearly!) but the house still needed a good once-over. They were really excited about earning money and The Youngest was even more excited to learn that the money I offered was for EACH of them and not SPLIT between them. Haha. Crap, I could have paid them even less! 😉

The kids did a FANTASTIC job – as good or even better than our housecleaner does. I was thoroughly impressed. To be fair, we used to clean as a family and so they have had years of practice. But post-pandemic with all of the busy-ness and my health we decided that having someone come and clean every two weeks was worth the money.

My kids have always had unpaid chores. From the time they were toddlers at the end of the day we would play music, dance around and put our toys away before dinner. This was to get them into the habit of tidying, not because they were good at it. Us parents did most of the actual tidying but over time they grew into the habit of actually putting their stuff away at the end of the day and then we just built on that.

By 6 & 8 they learned how to do the basics of cleaning by doing it with us, and by 10 & 12 they knew how to clean the entire house. That isn’t to say that the adults didn’t take on the majority of the work at first but over time they slowly did more and more on their own until we did none. They still do tidying in between the housekeeper visits as well as washing the dishes every night. We’ve also taught them some basic dishes that they can cook on their own. The Youngest in particular has been asking to learn more about cooking, so we are taking the time to teach them how to cook a variety of meals.

The one chore we actually pay the kids to do is folding and putting away my laundry. Mr. Tucker’s office is right next to the laundry room so he generally washes the clothes during the week so that by the weekend it’s all clean and in baskets. So on the weekend, they have to separate and fold/put away the household stuff (ie: towels and sheets) as well as do their own. Mr. Tucker is super picky so his is left and just does it when they are done.

In a sense, being disabled has really helped with teaching kids how to do chores. Children can be the masters of strategic incompetence when they don’t want to do something. So many parents just throw up their hands and do the task because ensuring a child learns how to do a chore can take twice as long and is way more stressful. But in my situation, I had no choice. I had to work through the process of them resisting learning how to do things because I just could not physically do them anymore. Of course, we are now all better off: the kids 100% have the skills to feed themselves and maintain a home and Mr. Tucker and I don’t have to struggle doing all the house stuff.

What’s even better is that they are proud of their skills. The Youngest came home once and told me that none of their friends were forced to do chores at home*. Their friends were saying things such as, “Why do you have to do anything? I don’t have to do any chores and I still get an allowance!” & The Youngest replied, “Because I live there for free? It’s only fair that I help out. Besides, I have the skills to live on my own now and you don’t.**” I was pretty impressed with that answer because it’s an astute observation for a 13-year-old to make I live there for free and it’s only fair that I help out.

We had planned to take up most of the housecleaning ourselves when Mr. Tucker retired but both kids said that they were happy to get paid to deep clean the house. So we may end up paying them to do the deep clean once-a-month instead. They like earning the money, they do a great job and since we generally manage to keep the house tidy enough in between deep cleans, it will work out for everyone. Of course, the time will come when they will be too busy with school and their own jobs. But then Mr. Tucker and I can take it back over.

Hope you are having a lovely Tuesday!

*The Eldest has also said this. It’s up for debate as to whether or not that is the truth. I am sure many kids have responsibilities.
**Ok, a bit rude and I also learned the trial by fire way when I first moved out and I wouldn’t recommend it.