Doing chores is one of those things that most people avoid at all costs. We’ve all been there: making ourselves scarce just at the moment when we’re being rallied by our parents to help around the house; or doing the cooking just so you can avoid the incredible dullness of washing up (maybe that’s just me).
Why chores aren’t such a bore after all
Chores can feel like a waste of time- time that could be spent with friends, studying or reading. And these obligations don’t stop when you leave school- they’re a staple part of adult life.
But according to psychologists and academics, doing household work when you’re told to(or especially when you’re not, but you do it anyway) actually has incredible benefits. Researchers at the University of Minnesota collected data over a period of 20 years which showed that doing chores has a magical effect on almost everything later on in life- jobs, relationships, education, and mental health.
And the infamous Harvard Grant study, which has spanned a whopping 75 years so far, revealed that we need two things to be happy and successful: to love, and to have a good work ethic. For the second we need to develop a “pitch-in” mentality, which can stem from- yes, you guessed it- doing chores.
The characteristics and skillsets which are fostered by doing household work boil down to these core elements:
1. Responsibility and collective duty
Learning to chip in and help others is important later on in life; building a happy and productive workplace requires the same mentality. It’s important to avoid getting into the habit of putting yourself first and being lazy around the house- developing these early on can be detrimental to adult relationships later on in life.
By doing chores yourself, and not leaving them to others, you learn how to be an autonomous individual, and you learn a crucial fact of life: that you can’t rely on others (parents especially) to do things for you.
3. Resilience and perseverance
It’s important to learn how to set yourself a task - however small, insignificant or just downright boring- and do it, even if you really, really don’t want to. Finishing a chore is surprisingly satisfying.
4. Time management and organisational skills
Carving out part of the day to dedicate to menial tasks that you might otherwise sideline is key- it helps with juggling workloads and managing schedules later on.
Lastly, looking at it physically, keeping your living space clean and tidy is fundamental in maintaining a clear head and peaceful lifestyle.
Thoughts from an expert: Author of How to Raise an Adult Julie Lythcott-Haims said in a TED talk that, “professional success in life comes from having done chores as a kid,” and the “earlier you start it the better.”
She goes on: “If kids aren't doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them. This means that not only are they're absolved of doing the work, but of learning that work has to be done and that each one of us must contribute for the betterment of the whole."
As ever, it’s about how you define success and happiness: too often we think being ‘happy’ means succeeding in some abstract goal- like getting rich or getting your perfect job - but time and time again philosophers and psychologists have pointed out the very real benefits behind both taking joy in the small things in life, and in helping others. Chores are a first step - so get cleaning!
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